The Firms

December 16, 2009 3:50 PM

Tales of the Deferred: Will Other Firms Follow Nixon Peabody?

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: Dec. 17, 11:50 a.m. This post has been updated with responses from additional firms.

After Nixon Peabody announced on Tuesday that it would re-defer two-thirds of first-year associates already deferred until January 2010, The Am Law Daily decided to check in with 42 other firms slated to start new lawyers in a few weeks to see if they'd made any last-minute scheduling changes.

We heard back from roughly half of the firms we contacted, and most of those say they're still on track to open their doors to first-year classes next month. Several firms said they've actually had some of their new associates start earlier than January as needs arose in certain practice areas. 

A Bingham McCutchen spokeswoman, for instance, confirmed that ten associates--six in financial services, two each in the firm's litigation and corporate groups--started in October due to an uptick in work in those areas. The remaining 56 lawyers in the firm's incoming class will start on January 28.

King & Spalding told us that 18 of 44 deferred first-year associates started earlier this year as a result of "increased business needs." The rest of the firm's incoming class will start on January 19. First-years at Vinson & Elkins that didn't start in November are slated to begin work next month, says a firm spokesman.

At Goodwin Procter, four associates started at the firm in October. Another 62 first-years--roughly half the firm's incoming class--will start in January with the remaining new lawyers slated to start in October 2010. White & Case has done something similar, starting 71 associates from its incoming class this past November, with the remainder of the first-year class not slated to start at the firm until "sometime next fall," according to a firm spokesman.

Incoming classes at Andrews KurthBryan Cave, Cooley Godward Kronish, Davis Wright Tremaine, Dewey & LeBoeuf, DLA Piper, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, Kaye ScholerK&L Gates, Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, Quarles & BradyRopes & Gray, Schiff Hardin, Stroock & Stroock & LavanVenable, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati are all on track to begin working at their respective firms in January, those firms told us.

Katten Muchin Rosenman is starting its incoming class on February 1, the first day of the firm's fiscal year, while Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe newcomers are still slated to begin at their firm in January and March. (The numbers do not include those 3L's that chose to take one-year deferrals to pursue public interest work, travel the globe, or catch up on episodes of Jersey Shore.)

A spokeswoman for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman told us the firm also remains on track to start 32 incoming associates next month with another 22 being deferred until January 2011. Another spokeswoman for Greenberg Traurig told us that the firm's individual offices make their own decisions about start dates, but that most first-years would start by January. (The firm didn't give specifics.)

Mayer Brown is asking 18 of its 119 first-years scheduled to start in January to consider a voluntary extension to October 2010 with a $5,000 per month stipend. At Troutman Sanders, a firm spokesman says that 24 first-years will start in January, while another 12 incoming associates are set to begin in staged intervals throughout the year.

Blank Rome says that "most" members of its first-year class will start in January, but that some associates have been told they won't start until later this year. A similar policy has been implemented at Faegre & Benson, where most first-years will start in January, while others have had their state dates pushed back.

Nixon Peabody is not the only firm to recently push back its deferred start dates. As previously reported by Above the Law, some incoming associates at Winston & Strawn scheduled to start in January were told last month that they'll be involuntarily assigned new start dates in April and October.

A firm spokesman was checking into the matter at the time of this post.

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