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Quinn Emanuel Wants to Pay You $35K to Leave Your Summer Job

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on July 07, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Do you dislike your summer firm? If you were to stumble upon a new job offer at the end of the summer, would you jump on it?

Fear not, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is dangling a $35,000 sign-on bonus for lucky associates who join the QEUS team -- after a summer stint at another firm. Regardless of how other firms might feel about this, it could be a valuable opportunity to young lawyers who aren't in love with the firm they chose for their summer gig.

Associate Poaching?

Before other law firms start grumbling about "talent stealing," QEUS has characterized the move as even somewhat charitable. Bill Urquhart described the offer as a way of motivating associates "not to work at the place where they went that summer. We're trying to break the inertia."

Trimming the Fat, Harvesting Others' Oats

It was only last year when Quinn Emanual said it was effectively halting its summer associate programs. Ditto for 3L programs and judicial clerks. This was a strategic move, we estimate.

The number of students graduating choice law schools is still rather high despite the low application rates everyone has been talking about. And demand for positions is still also very high. This leaves a large pool of demand for limited positions. QEUS' move to sweeten the pie with $35,000 is not only devious, but also quiet clever. They get the educated and experienced creme without having to make the initial investment. Then the company uses the saved money to entice the most ambitious and hungry within the market. It's genius.

Only the Most Dedicated?

This announcement is somewhat consistent with the company's new policy of not hiring students with only a single year of legal education. "They gain more information, and by the time they have gone through the summer program, if they have decided they want to do litigation, those are the people we want."

When asked if the firm was concerned about the controversy it might stir up within the BigLaw community, Urquhart seemed nonplussed. "Well, not really," said Urquhart. "We care what these law students think."

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