An unjustified complaint about law departments hiring law firm associates

“Heck, every time we assign someone to their work longer term, they hire them out of the firm to work in the department, usually just at the point when they begin to actually contribute to the firm’s overall profitability.” This quote, presumably from a law firm managing partner, comes from the ACC Docket, Vol. 26, Oct. 2008, at Value Challenge 6. This peeved partner criticizes clients who hire the firm’s associates, especially if the young lawyers have just started to enrich the partners.

Blame for this situation, if there is any, rests with the partners. If associates like their jobs and prospects, they decline offers from law departments. And if the economic model of law firms causes them to lose money on associates for several years, that’s not the problem of law departments. Associates have to go somewhere, since most won’t make partner, and it is better that they go to a law department than to a competitor firm. The bonds tighten between the firm and the company. Further, law firms aren’t reluctant to poach mid-level associates from other law firms.

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