Monday, 11 May 2009

Are pro bono and public interest the answers for new law graduates?

New law graduates have been particularly vulnerable in this recession. As many know, in the last several months, law firms have been pursuing a variety of measures to control costs and adjust for the declining demand for legal services in some areas, including cutting first year salaries, deferring start dates, offering stipends for public interest work, and, most recently, paying associates not to start at all.

Article from the New York Times
Article from Legal Week
Article at ABA Journal
Article at NY Lawyer (free registration required to view)

Where does this leave new law graduates who need appropriate training and mentorship opportunities? Can pro bono and public interest work fulfill the need?

Posted by Patrice Dziire
IBA Pro bono and Access to Justice Committee


  1. I think that pro bono work and public interest work is a very good learning opportunity to new grads, especially if taken in conjunction with the Second Season initiative in April's post. But would law firms take into account this pro bono experience in their hiring?

  2. Associates in large law firms have always used pro bono opportunities for training purposes - to get hands on client interaction, negotiation, litigation, and transactional skills. The practical skills that an attorney walks away with when working on a matter pro bono are the same (and sometimes even more pronounced) as those that can be gained from fee matters. These skills are important to law firm employers, no matter where or how they are gained. Indeed, an interesting new development from one law firm trying to manage the legal recession - new associates will participate in training programs ONLY for their first six months at the firm. Are we looking at a new traineeship model in the US? If so, this could likely bode well for pro bono and public interest also.