When the work at a large local Law Firm seemed to be scarce and leaving fewer cases to be available to hand out to new the new hires, someone came up with an idea. The Law Firms often do pro bono work for the public interest groups every year. Instead of laying off the new lawyers, keep them on and let them handle public interest and legal aid work to start gaining experience. This means the Firm would subsidize the work to be done at non-profit organizations and still get training for their new hires. This would solve the problem of bringing in new work during the economic slow down and it also would continue to give public interest groups the help they need. Often the Law Firms didn't have enough lawyers for pro bono work to handle year long cases and now non-profits have all the help they want.
The Human Rights Watch Group was stricken with awe at the proposal from lawyers to let their young attorneys work for them at a time when the Watch Group was also budgeting funds. This idea is experimental and there are details for the Law Firms to work out. Currently there are about six Law Firms giving the program a try versus turning away new recruits. One Law Firm is offering the new recruits their annual salary with benefits if they take on a job with a public defender's office or a non-profit corporation. The Firm has deferred start dates for all their new hires for 1 year but gives them the option to be able to work for pay if they choose to work at the pro bono sites.
The details to work out are the following; how will Firms pay their new lawyers who accept the pro bono work offer? Will they be billed by the non-profit group for a ''training fee'' and then the advocacy group sets up payment arrangements for the young lawyer's service? Who is responsible for any misbehavior a new hire might become involved in during the job? These technical issues are sure to be settled as the non-profit organizations are willing to work with the Law Firms. The beneficiaries commented that they have never seen such a large outpouring of help in response to a bad economic climate. It is a win-win arrangement which takes a great deal of faith and heart for Legal Firms as they hope their business recovery happens within the year. Many thought it showed how much the legal sector
cared for their own with prospects at seeing them return to the Firm.
The beneficiaries of the charitable work have hired a lawyer to oversee the employ of new lawyers go well. The overseers will find ways to verify work and settle plans for payment between the firms and the non-profit organizations. Hooray for these firms and may their giving be returned a hundred fold.
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