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September 05, 2009

Plan B for recruiting "Grunts"?

The "elite" associates you recruited: Would they fight for your clients? Would they fight for anyone? (Columbia Pictures, 1981)

Uh, "associates", rather. But maybe grunts is the "right" word. Who said their life was ever supposed to be easy? Who without a love and yen for complexity, challenge and hard things in life would ever chose private law practice? Well, many young people are; frankly, the law is "too hard" for them--way too hard--and they are failing.

Not much fight in these humans, either. Not much gospel. Remember: we're not taking about divinity, forestry or hotel management grads. People who attend law schools are signing up for war. And we're often getting Teletubbies on Thorazine.

Don't look to blame law firms or their clients. The demands of practice have not changed very much in the last 30 years. Blame the other "us": parents, and law schools. We are raising and educating Mega-Wimps. And they are miserable in any demanding job.

The Point. Are we recruiting from the "right" schools? Plan A: law review from top schools. Plan B: non-elite law school grads. (Plan C: dirt poor kids from evening divisions who think any work is a great privilege and honor--we'll get there yet, and it's probably the answer.)

Plan B. While you think about it--and we are as we are fascinated by the subject--see this month's issue of American Lawyer magazine, and a piece by Ronit Dinovitzer and Bryant Garth, "Not That Into You". Dinovitzer and Garth find that graduates of lower-tier law schools are more appreciative of their jobs at large law firms, so they start those jobs with the intent to work towards partnership. But graduates of elite law schools are less satisfied with the long hours associated with those jobs, in part because they view them as mere stepping stones towards their actual target positions. Nevertheless, large law firms cling to the policy of preference for the elite graduates. Should they?

Our thanks for the heads up to our coach, spiritual leader, and lawyer's lawyer Ray Ward. They broke the mold on you, sir.

Posted by Rob Bodine at September 5, 2009 12:51 AM


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