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When the 130 summer associates at Morgan Lewis received a letter less than a month before they were to start work informing them of the opportunity to take part in the firm’s new Public Interest and Community Service program, many were not sure how to take the offer. After all, they wouldn’t be spending as much time at Morgan Lewis — only the first part of the summer. The second part they would spend with a public interest organization of their choice. “There were certain people who were uncertain about it because they wanted to work here the entire summer,” said Tom Sharbaugh, Morgan Lewis’ managing partner of operations. “I was a little skeptical. … I didn’t know what to expect in dealing with a law firm,” summer associate Cary Joshi said. She said she consulted with a school career counselor before accepting the firm’s offer. As it turned out, despite the short notice, 11 summer associates in Philadelphia chose to participate in the program, and, thus far, they say they have found the experience helpful. “This has been received very well by the summer associates,” said Eric Kraeutler, chairman of Morgan Lewis’ firmwide professional recruitment committee. “We’ve been extremely pleased. We’ve received nothing but positive feedback.” A total of 29 summer associates decided to take part in the program, including the 11 Philadelphia associates. All six offices that offer summer programs offered PICS programs. In the Washington, D.C., office were seven participants; in Los Angeles, six; and in New York, five. None came forward in the Miami or Pittsburgh offices. The Public Interest and Community Service (PICS) program is an expansion of Morgan Lewis’ public interest fellowship, which had offered two to four summer associates the same half-and-half opportunity for the past three years. All the summer associates have been compensated on an equal level whether they participated in the program or not. GETTING IT DONE The PICS program was developed after Sharbaugh attended an executive education program in March at Columbia University, where he heard Tom Tierney, former chairman of Bain & Co., speak about his own efforts to incorporate more community service opportunities at Bain. “People thought we should wait and start next year. … [But] if you don’t do things right away, they don’t get done. I thought we should just do it,” Sharbaugh said. Morgan Lewis sees three advantages to having the PICS program available to its summer associates, Kraeutler said. “We thought it was the right thing to do,” Kraeutler said. “We thought it was a good way to help the community where we work.” Second, the firm wanted to offer its summer associates a more interesting and challenging program, for those interested in an experience such as PICS, Kraeutler said. Last, Kraeutler said Morgan Lewis sees the program as a tool for recruiting summer associates, with the firm believing that many law students are interested in pro bono opportunities at the firm. “I know a lot of people who look for firms who do this split,” said Carrie Bassi, a University of Virginia student who chose to take part in PICS. She knows of other students who have taken part in similar programs in Washington, D.C., and New York. “Law students frequently ask about our pro bono activities in the fall, and we figured we could give them something right off the bat in the summer,” Sharbaugh said. This fall, Morgan Lewis plans to make the PICS program a part of its 2002 summer associate recruiting effort, Sharbaugh said. He said he believes that the next year, Morgan Lewis will have more participation in the program because the firm will have more time to explain the concept to recruits. All of the summer associates interviewed said they considered a firm’s commitment to pro bono work a factor in deciding where to work, although it often was not the most important factor. DOING MORE WITH LESS Although it may seem that the shortened period at the firm would make it difficult for the capabilities of the PICS participants to be fully evaluated by the firm, the summer associates interviewed did not seem to think this was an issue. “They make every effort to get to know you. … I think they go out of their way,” Bassi said. “By the first week, you feel comfortable there.” Katrina Abendano, who chose not to take part in the PICS program, said: “It takes a week or two to see how things run. … I don’t think [the longer time] is an advantage. I don’t think I’m better off.” Sharbaugh made the point that this period, whether it be as little as six or as many as 12 weeks, is much longer than the few hours the firm spends interviewing a third-year law student for employment. To ensure that the associates get a good taste of the Morgan Lewis environment, the first part of the summer is more focused and intensive, with more professional activities placed in the beginning half of the summer. PICS participants and nonparticipants get the same types of projects during the time they are at Morgan Lewis, Sharbaugh said. The only difference between the two groups may be that PICS participants may have earlier deadlines for what they need to accomplish because they are spending less time at the firm. While the PICS participants’ deadlines are closer than if they had not been in the program, Bassi and Joshi said they were still able to manage their time at Morgan Lewis to ensure that their projects were complete by the time they moved into their public interest jobs. THE RIGHT PICK “Since I’m not from Philadelphia, I thought it was a good way to get more exposure to the legal market and the area,” Bassi said. “I thought it was a great opportunity that I hadn’t heard of before.” After receiving her letter, Bassi said she was pleasantly surprised. Her doubts about PICS lessened when she received a call from Joe Costello, chairman of the professional recruiting committee for the Philadelphia office, who personally called each of the Philadelphia office’s summer associates to further explain the program. After working at Morgan Lewis for nine weeks, Bassi is working for the next four weeks with the Public Defenders’ Association Capital Representation Project. For Bassi, her summer associate position at Morgan Lewis was her first experience with a private law firm. Before law school, she worked for the U.S. Department of Justice for two years, and, last summer, she worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago. Bassi said her experience had allowed her to see both the prosecutorial and defense side of the legal system. Bassi will work next fall as a federal clerk. She hasn’t decided whether after the clerkship, she will choose the public or private sector. Penn law student Joshi, who is interested in women’s issues, spent the first eight weeks at Morgan Lewis and will spend the remainder of her summer at the Women’s Law Project. After graduation, she hopes to receive a public interest fellowship and is not sure whether she will enter the public or private sector once the fellowship has ended. Both Bassi and Joshi see the opportunity for a varied work experience in different aspects of the legal community as an advantage of the PICS program. “I’ve certainly met more people in the legal community, in the public sector and also at Morgan,” Joshi said. “I believe it provides some perspective going from a private firm to the public sector.” Bassi said: “It makes me more well-rounded … [which] keeps you from being closed-minded or biased. … It breaks up the summer and gives me a chance to do two totally different things.” Other PICS participants in Philadelphia are working at the Volunteers for the Indigent Program, the Support Center for Child Advocacy, Women Against Abuse, the Japanese American Society, the Committee of 70 and the Nationalities Service Center. Earl Hall, a Cornell law student, said he chose not to participate in PICS because he wanted to work closely with members of the labor and employment department, an area he plans to pursue after graduation. “I thought [a summer associate position at Morgan Lewis] was a great opportunity to watch some of the best labor lawyers in the country. You don’t get an opportunity like this often,” Hall said. Although he did not take the half-and-half split, Hall was still able to work on a pro bono project, revising an employment handbook for a local nonprofit organization. “I knew there would be opportunities to do pro bono work here,” Hall said. Hall would like to work for the labor and employment department at Morgan Lewis after graduation and wanted to make sure he fit in well at the firm. “For me, I made the right decision. My goals are very focused. … If I was less focused with the area of law I was interested in, I would have taken part in the program,” Hall said. Before this summer, Abendano, a student at Notre Dame University, had worked at Morgan Lewis during the summer between her junior and senior years in college. Last semester, she was studying in England, where the academic calendar runs later than it does in the United States, so she chose not to take part in the program because she was not able to join the firm until the middle of June. “I thought for me personally, it was better for me to stick around,” Abendano said. Had she been at Morgan Lewis longer than eight weeks, she would have seriously considered taking part in the program, Abendano said. Having worked there previously, she also knew that Morgan Lewis allowed its summer associates to do pro bono projects, so she knew she wouldn’t miss out on public interest work if she wanted that experience. She said the firm would have worked with her had she wanted to take part in PICS. While summer associates were strongly encouraged by the firm to participate in the program, the associates interviewed said they did not believe their participation or nonparticipation in the program had any effect on their full-time offers. “I think it’s nice that we had the choice so that those who wanted to do it could, and those who didn’t weren’t pressured into doing so,” Joshi said.

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