No shock here, but I like law firm internship/fellowship/apprenticeship programs.

Clients like these programs.

Recent law school grads without a job like these programs.

And while we as a society find it perfectly acceptable for a young doctor to graduate a top-ranked medical school, $100,000 plus in debt, and go directly into an internship program at a minimal salary, to learn the trade, for some reason it is unacceptable for lawyers?

I never really expected universal acceptance of law firm internship programs, and believe that it will take years for them to take off industry wide, but I hope that one day they will become the norm.

With that in mind, I have to admit that I was quite “shocked” to read the following comments in this ABA Journal article from Carter Phillips, managing partner of Sidley Austin’s Washington, D.C. office:

“If you’re a top-flight law student and you talk to one firm offering $80,000 or $100,000 to take extra classes and then you talk to another firm offering $160,000 to do work you can bill to a client, I don’t see that as much of a choice,” he said.

Really. $160,000 jobs. Which firms are still offering these?? And what job offers, let alone multiple job offers? From what I’m reading, most “biglaw” firms, including Sidley, are offering deferrals and reduced salaries, in addition to the weekly layoffs.

As far as I can tell, a job secured in October 2009 is much better than one promised in … well … January 2011.

According to a May 8, 2009, Above the Law post (with copy of firm e-mail):

New associates heading to Sidley Austin, on the other hand, got “optional deferral” news. The firm e-mailed incoming associates yesterday announcing the “Pro Bono Assistance Program:” a January 2011 start date with a $75,000 stipend attached.

I’m going to pull out my little crystal ball here and make a prediction:

These young men and women who complete these law firm internship programs will be highly successful attorneys. They will continue to practice law in greater numbers over time, while their peers become dissatisfied with their careers and leave the law.

These young attorneys will be better business developers, and will be counted amongst their firms’ rainmakers. They will be better suited to the work that they perform, and will be more satisfied.

Why?? Because they will be better prepared, trained, mentored and educated in the practice, and business, of law.