Lower Pay, More Training: Howrey To Try an Apprenticeship Program
The National Law Journal and Above the Law both reported on the "Tier 1 Associate Program," which will start this fall. With bonuses considered, Howrey associates will be paid $125,000 the first year, which will focus on structured training and pro bono work. The second year will see a slight pay bump to $150,000, and an opportunity for associates to work with clients at reduced billing rates. After that, the training wheels come off, and Howrey has (it hopes) a whole new group of litigators who are truly ready to work with clients.
Howrey managing partner Robert Ruyak, in his interview with the NLJ, hit the nail on the head in describing the apprenticeship program: "Law firms are way behind on this kind of thing. Other professions like medicine have been doing this for years. The way we have been doing things simply doesn't make sense."
So law firms are starting to get it. This may be the next step in the evolution of firm hiring that we discussed in the Drinker Biddle post. Law students are being presented with a real choice, to take less money up front in exchange for real training and a chance to accelerate the pace of their professional development. And while mmany might continue to grab at the largest available paycheck, there will be no shortage of new lawyers who will be happy to give an apprenticeship a go.
Perhaps not every firm could convince its partners to dip into the annual profits to make a long-term investment like this -- after all, even Ruyak admits that Howrey won't see any financial benefit from this program in its first several years, at least -- but more would do well to try.
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