It’s taken a while, but the economic downturn’s impact on the legal industry has finally caught up with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
Firm co-chairman William Perlstein says the firm told its incoming class of associates yesterday that the firm would be delaying their start date from the fall of 2009 until 2010, following the lead of many other firms around town. Perlstein says the firm’s incoming class has between 80 and 90 associates spread across its five U.S. offices.
Perlstein says the firm is having a “pretty good year,” the decision to push back the start date was made to accommodate client concerns.
“Our clients are being very careful in how they give out assignments,“ Perlstein says “We thought that staging the entry of new associates until next year would give us a better shot at evening out workloads so that everyone continued to receive good assignments.”
The affected associates will be receiving stipends to cover expenses during their time off.
The firm employs a staggered start date system, so part of its incoming class will start on Jan. 20 next year and the rest will start on March 17. A statement from the firm says the January associates will receive a $10,000 stipend, and the March associates will receive a $15,000 stipend. Those stipends will be paid on top of the $5,000 transition stipend the firm typically pays to incoming non-clerk associates and the $5,000 advance given to those coming out of clerkships.
Like many other firms, Wilmer will also be offering associates who volunteer to have their start date delayed until the fall of 2010 a $75,000 stipend.
The delays were first reported on Above the Law.
Here is the firm’s e-mail announcement:
"In light of the current economic crisis, we have made the extremely difficult decision to postpone our fall start dates until 2010. We believe the delay of our fall start dates is necessary to address issues arising from this unprecedented economic crisis and to allow us to offer a meaningful experience to the lawyers already here and to those who will join us. As is our normal practice, we will have more than one start date. A portion of the class will start on January 20 and the remainder will start on March 17. Those associates who join us in January will receive a stipend of $10,000 and those who join us in March will receive a stipend of $15,000. These stipends will be in addition to the $5,000 transition stipend we normally pay to our incoming non-clerk associates and the $5,000 advance of the clerkship bonus we pay to our clerks. In addition, the firm will continue to reimburse associates for the cost of the bar exam and related expenses. Our associates have the option to choose to defer their start date until the fall of 2010 for a stipend in the amount of $75,000. This deferral is entirely optional and is not tied to their ability to obtain a pro bono or other public service position."