Kaye Scholer plans to split up its incoming first-year deferred associates, with half working on pro bono work for a reduced salary. The 500-lawyer firm had already delayed start dates for its 40 incoming associates to January. Now, 20 of the new lawyers will work in its pro bono program at the firm for a $60,000 salary, managing partner Barry Willner said Thursday.
Other firms have also put their deferred associates to work on public interest projects for stipends. But unlike those firms, who have placed associates at non-profits and government agencies to work and receive training, Kaye Scholer is keeping its deferred associates in house to work on pro bono projects the firm has taken on. Willner said the firm wanted to train its lawyers itself. "There isn't enough training out there," he said. He also said it is "very hard for people at this point to find pro bono jobs at other organizations."
The New York City Bar Association estimates that 125 to 140 deferred associates are now working at non-profits in the city. The associates and public interest officials have said the new lawyers are getting real-world courtroom experience that they might not receive otherwise.