An economic model developed by NERA for the ACC and adjusted by Balanomics for research described in the ACC Docket, Nov. 2009 at 102-3, uses an estimate of what law firms spend to find and attract new associates. That estimate puts talent acquisition costs of law firms for “1st year associate recruiting costs” at a staggering $400,000.
Similarly, whatever time and money law firms pour into newly graduated associates after they join, whether the training comes from organized CLE or on-the-job learning, benefits the legal department that eventually lures them away, but without any cost. Let’s pick some numbers out the air: one week of formal training each year at 40 hours times a billing rate of $200 ($8,000) plus $2,000 each to attend two CLE conferences ($4,000), plus 10 hours of partner time to train at $500 an hour ($5,000) plus some firm overhead to arrange and track all this training ($3,000). Each year on those assumptions, an associate costs the firm $20,000 for training.
Legal departments that pick off associates after they have practiced a few years avoid that initial huge investment.