If you're a current law student, recent graduate or even just beginning to consider law school, you've heard about all the start date deferrals for first-year associates. Many BigLaw firms are pushing back start dates up to a year, rescinding offers and generally slashing the 2009 associate class. The law school blog, The Shark, has a Temple of Doom that lists all the deferrals, rescinded offers, etc.
Of these, Cravath seems to have been a late but big addition. And the deferral package they're offering doesn't sound so bad: $80,000, $1,000 a month to put towards student loans, and health coverage just for agreeing to push your first day to October 2010. Not too shabby! But while new JDs are getting sweet deals because of the late notice, etc., it's time to start worrying about the class of 2010. At Cravath, start dates for current summer associates (who will finish law school in spring 2010) are being pushed all the way back to fall 2011. Although they are still getting deferral packages (Cravath is offering $65,000), the offerings are not as complete as what 2009 grads are getting. So smart rising 3Ls are starting to come up with Plan B's for 2010-2011 now. And Harvard Law is on it.
On Friday, HLS career services sent out an email encouraging students to start considering their postgrad gap year. "If you are at a law firm this summer and hope to return after graduation, you should ask yourself now what you might do to fill the 2010-2011 year if necessary." Just to be clear, that's their bolding, not ours. The letter continues to offer some suggestions on how to fill your time and make some money, too, including fellowships and judicial clerkships.
Although students who have their hearts set on a career in BigLaw are being asked to change their plans and this might be a bit unnerving, at this point they're only being asked to postpone those plans for one year. It's not the end of the world. It also feels a bit early to start sending out letters with bolded lines telling students they have to figure out what they're going to do in 2011 right this minute. Those students are still working hard in their summer associate jobs, worrying about winning that first-year position for 2011 at all. Thinking ahead is good, but having a breakdown at a July 4th BBQ is hardly productive. So take a breath, work hard at your summer job, spend an hour looking at fellowships on the internet, shoot a quick email to your favorite professor, enjoy a cool blonde beer with an lemon slice and relax. It's not yet time to freak out--and you'll want to enjoy all the time you have before that hour comes.
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