Well, I hate to say I told you so, but from a May 19, 2009, post Looking for Inspiration in the Recession I wrote about the Class of ’09 being a “lost generation” (which I now believe will trickle down to 2010 and possible 2011 as well):
Get ready, Class of ’09, more announcements like this to come: You may think you are just deferred, but you are really fired.
This morning came the announcement via The Blog of the Legal Times:
Arent Fox Rescinds Offers for Some Deferred Associates Arent Fox Chairman Marc Fleischaker has confirmed reports that the firm has rescinded offers made to some of its deferred associates. The associates who had their offers withdrawn were told this morning. In all, Fleischaker said, about 12 incoming associates were affected. Washington, which has the firm’s largest office, had “about eight,” New York had “between two and three,” and Los Angeles had one, Fleischaker said. The news was first reported on Above the Law.
I feel for Mr. Fleischaker and every other law firm chairman trying to handle similar situations: Associates deferred from jobs they were expecting to start a few weeks ago, only to find out that there is no work for them in the near future. Please, everyone — especially law students, future law students and currently deferred associates — read the legal news, follow the blogs, understand that the legal model has changed and will not be going back to what it was. I have been speaking with my peers, colleagues and consultants for law firms on this issue, and while there are many ways to scenario plan the next five years, there appears to be one consensus of thought: While we don’t know WHAT the legal business model will look like once the recession is over, and recovery is firmly in place, we can anticipate that it WILL be different from what it has been. If nothing else, technology has streamlined much of what lawyers, especially young lawyers, used to do; clients have different expectations of outside legal counsel; and it turns out that it doesn’t take as many associates to screw in a light bulb as it used to. In my opinion, law schools continue to do a disservice to these young men and women by churning out more JDs than we will ever need to be lawyers, all the while saddling them with an astronomical debt. Yes, a law degree can be used for different careers, but the law schools and their career centers are not promoting and training for this. As I said in Always a JD, Never a Lawyer:
Law schools MUST address these issues, from the law school graduates who never passes the bar to the lack of jobs upon graduation. It is unconscionable that law schools continue to admit more students than our current marketplace can absorb. These young men and women need this information so that they can choose to make an informed decision before rolling the dice.