Deferred lawyers no longer keen to work for big firms

August 20, 2010 Many young lawyers are reconsidering their career goals after their job offers with major law firms were deferred in response to recession in the industry.

Promising associates were offered the chance to take up to a year off before starting as associates, and many were given a stipend. Some took the opportunity to travel, do research, or work in the public sector. As we approach the end of the deferral period, many graduates report that they are no longer keen to work in the private sector.

David Stern, executive director of Equal Justice Works – an organisation that aims to get new legal talent in the nonprofit and public sectors – points out there is a large pay gap between public interest work and private sector work: “The gap is multiples of the public interest salary, with a public interest attorney starting at, on average, $35,000 to $39,000 a year,” he said. “In a big law firm, these attorneys are starting at $140,000 to $150,000.”

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