Published on:

An argument against setting minimum experience requirements for associates

A friend of mine, Andrew Shipley, Assistant General Counsel – Litigation with Northrop-Grumman, wrote regarding my comments about setting minimum experience levels for associates (See my post of Nov. 8, 2005.). I quote him below.

‘The issue raises an interesting dilemma. Clients don’t want to pay the high price for what it perceives to be low-value-added first-year associates. But does a blanket prohibition on the use of first year associates actually solve the problem? Only if the client and the law firm have a sufficiently good relationship to ensure that the more experienced associate who is assigned represents good value. Otherwise, the fourth-year tasked with typical first-year work may be the weakest associate in his class, as the firm might prefer not to alienate its more talented colleagues. Such an assignment could yield even less value to the client than if a talented first-year had been given the work. So, why have a blanket prohibition if it may not achieve the desired end?”

Shipley makes a very good point.