Economy Freezes the Legal World

Two of the country’s largest and most successful law firms have announced that they will freeze the wages of their associates in the coming year signaling that no profession can escape the dangers of the recession. After already having to layoff nearly 80 employees, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe decided to follow suit and not raise any wages after Latham & Watkins made a similar statement just a week before Christmas. Each firm, with over 1,000 lawyers on staff and a global following, is still on the safer side when it comes to cutbacks despite these early measures. Analysts say these two will not have to worry about losing associates to better offers as most, if not all, firms will eventually be forced to take the same or more drastic measures.

These developments may come as quite a shock especially when considering reports that came out in swarms as recently as 2007 regarding the seemingly unstoppable rise in first-year associates’ salaries. A number of sources reported on the amount of competition between firms to offer the best benefits in order to grab top graduates. AdmissionsConsultants, an advisory group dedicated to helping students find and get into law schools, noted in both February and September of 2007 the incredible pay being offered to first-years across the country. Of course, these fantastic salaries came with the daunting, and also rising, law school debt.
Less than two years later associates are faced with frozen and even declining salaries but there are no signs of a decrease in tuition yet. Many say that this is the economy for continuing education but it looks like law school might not be the right choice for right now. For those who are looking at law school in the coming year, cross your fingers that the while you spend your next three years studying, the economy puts itself to work. 

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