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Law Firms Ask Law School Grads to Postpone Start Dates

Another major law firm — Cravath, Swaine & Moore — used to doing mega-mergers and acquisitions work is asking incoming law associates to take paid deferment of their start dates for a year,  according to an article in The New York Times.

The economic reasons are obviously at work here, and so is the lack of associate turnover. At the very least, these are paid deferrals in the $80K range.

From the article:

    Cravath is also requiring current summer associates who are offered full-time jobs to accept $65,000 to wait a year instead of starting in October 2010. The delayed start date for lawyers scheduled to begin work this year at the New York-based firm is optional.
    The announcement was made in a memo sent to associates.
    “While the firm’s level of work is at or near its level before the continuing economic decline, there are many more associates at the firm today than our plans anticipated,” Cravath said in the memo. “The poor economy and the disruption at many financial institutions have reduced the rate at which our associates have left.”

While this news probably affects more junior level associates who are finishing up law school and preparing to take the bar, it’s hard to ignore the connections and interdependencies between financial institutions and the current diminished need for legal services. That isn’t to say that no work is out there for M&A lawyers — there just happens to be less right now.  As the NY Times article points out, M&A activity is down by some 55 percent from 2008.

Take a look at this chart for some perspective:

Period Deal value 2007 Deal value 2008 Deal value 2009
Q1 $64bn $49bn $8bn
Q2 $131bn $49bn $22bn
Q3 $41bn $26bn N/A
Q4 $64bn $19bn N/A

Source:The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase

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