Citing less demand for legal work, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius Chairman Francis Milone announced in a firmwide video conference that the firm would not be conducting on-campus interviews during the fall of 2009 and will be eliminating its 2010 summer associate program.
Milone also said the firm will be moving away from lockstep compensation, opting for a merit-based system instead.
Morgan Lewis has already deferred the start dates for this year's class of first-year associates from October 2009 until October 2010. The firm has also previously announced that the start dates on any offers extended to the 2009 summer associates would be pushed back until 2011. So far all deferred associates will receive stipends of up to $60,000 while working in government and public interest positions.
"We're running our own business and focusing relentlessly on client relationships," Milone said in a statement. "Doing so responsibly means continuing to reduce expenses, committing to the people in whom we are already invested, and looking at compensation across the board to ensure our structure matches the reality the entire legal industry must face."
Morgan Lewis also sent a letter from the firmwide hiring partner to law school deans announcing the changes:
Dear Law School Deans, Placement Deans and Heads of Career Services:
We are contacting you about our plans for fall recruiting.
As you know, as a result of economic conditions, Morgan Lewis decided in March 2009 to defer the start dates for our entering associates from October 2009 until October 2010. We simultaneously decided that any offers extended to our 2009 Summer Associates would be for start dates during 2011.
All of our deferred associates have elected to participate in the Morgan Lewis Fellowship Program, under which they will receive stipends of up to $60,000 while working in government and public interest positions. The response to the Fellowship Program from our deferred students, our clients and the public interest community has been overwhelmingly positive.
We are in the midst of a very successful Summer Associate Program, and plan to extend offers to as many of our 2009 Summer Associates as possible. However, like other firms, we continue to experience reduced demand for services in some areas of practice and lower levels of associate attrition than in past years. We, therefore, unfortunately are presented with a situation in which any hiring that we do this fall for a 2010 Summer Associate Program would reduce the number of offers we would be able to extend to our 2009 Summer Associates.
Given the unique circumstances of the current year, Morgan Lewis has decided that we will not conduct any on-campus interviewing during the fall of 2009 and that we will not have a 2010 Summer Associate Program. We continue to be committed to law school recruiting and entry level hiring. However, our highest priority is to provide opportunities for our existing associates and 2009 Summer Associates.
We are grateful for the law school relationships that we have developed over many years. In the coming months, we intend to build on those relationships and to find other ways to contribute to the success of your students, including the members of the Class of 2011. We would welcome your thoughts and suggestions as to how we can best support your school and students. We also hope to open a dialogue with law schools and industry groups, with a view toward improving the on-campus recruiting process by, among other things, re-assessing the timing of on-campus interviews and the existing rules requiring law firms to hold offers open for extended time periods.
Sometime this week, either I or one of our Office Hiring Partners will contact you by telephone to discuss these matters. In the meanwhile, please do not hesitate to contact me or Karen Amatangelo-Block, Firmwide Director of Attorney Recruiting (202-739-6177), or any of your usual Morgan Lewis contacts. We deeply value our relationships with you and your students, and look forward to working with you in the coming year.
With best regards,
Firmwide Hiring Partner