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by Vault Law Editors | June 23, 2009


Howrey has always marched to the beat of its own drummer: the firm ditched lockstep, runs a hardcore  Bootcamp in lieu of a cushy summer program, and paid for some product placement in that John Grisham movie… Yesterday, Howrey threw another curveball and announced radical changes to its first and second year associate program. 

Under the Howrey’s new apprenticeship system, rookie associates will focus on training -- and take a significant reduction in salary.  First years will work with Howrey's in-house writing instructor, be assigned to trial teams, and dedicate a large portion of their time to pro bono and public interest matters. (It is still unclear at this time whether apprentices will be ritually ‘fired’ in regular ‘board room’ meetings.)

Year two of the program includes client secondments, judicial externships, and other advanced development opportunities.  Reflecting “dramatically reduced billable hours expectations,” first-years will receive an annual salary of $100,000, plus a signing bonus of $25,000.  Second years will receive an annual salary of $125,000, plus a $25,000 bonus. 

Howrey Chairman Bob Ruyak gave an interesting interview with the WSJ Law Blog's Ashy Jones.   Ruyak on the rationale behind the change:

“At other firms, it’s largely the luck of the draw. You bring in a group and some work out and others don’t and it’s really left up to chance … Thing is, other professions don’t leave this up to chance: in medicine and elsewhere, you give the trainee some real work, definitely, but you also make sure everyone has the same head start. … In order to get to this, we had to trash the old system. By the end of the second year of this training, we’d like to think that a client will have no trouble working with one of our associates. The only way to get this is to have a process in which everyone gets the same training.”

On the lower salaries:

It’s really not because of the cost-savings. We’re doing it because we want to entice people who really want to invest in themselves; people who say, ‘it might be a little less on the front end, but it’ll be worth it down the line.’

"Not because of the cost-savings." Sounds totally plausible!  Anywaywill this approach turn out to be another Howrey-specific eccentricity, or this a new forward for more large firms?

                                                                                                   -posted by brian


Filed Under: Law

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