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If law firms hire fewer new associates, won’t senior associates do work not worth their rates?

Aric Press, Editor-In-Chief of the Am. Lawyer, Vol. 30, Feb. 2008 at 9, discusses layoffs by law firms. Rather than pink-slip associates, he speculates that law firms might decide to “sharply reduce the size of first-year classes.” He then notes offhandedly that “This means that some midlevels will be assigned to kids’ stuff, but so be it.”

So be it? Maybe from the law firm standpoint but law departments ought to be sharply on the lookout for experienced associates, with commensurate rates, doing the work of the junior associates who were not hired. Perhaps law departments should ask law firms to provide them with data about the size of their incoming classes (See my posts of Jan. 13, 2008: intervention by law departments.).