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Legal cadets get less pay

Legal cadets get less pay

A growing number of US firms are introducing apprenticeship programs for new recruits to better improve their legal practices.

A growing number of US firms are introducing apprenticeship programs for new recruits to better improve their legal practices. 

Frost Brown Todd, Drinker Biddle, Ford & Harrison and Howrey have all announced apprenticeship programs in the past months, with plans to introduce them from next year, reports the National Law Journal.  

Apprentices will start at the firm on a lower salary and are billed out at a lower rate than normal associates, or billed out for lower total hours. 

Howrey is the latest firm to introduce the program and from next year will be paying first-years at the firm US$60,000 (AUD$73,700) less in base pay, at $100,000 (AUD$122,800) a year with a US$25,000 (AUD$30,700) bonus for law school loans. The apprentices will spend a majority of their time attending classes with partners and shadowing them on client matters. The apprenticeship period will last two years, with a pay increase in the second year.

Just as medical students participate in a period of on-the-job-training; it seems an increasing number of legal practitioners also think law students require the same transition from study to practice. 

Firms like apprenticeships, because they reassure clients who are reluctant to shell out the big bucks for green lawyers, while helping to avoid the need to defer new associates. While firms save on overheads by paying lower salaries, they won’t be making money off these associates since they won’t be billed out to clients at the same rates or frequency as in the past.

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