Latham & Watkins, the fourth-largest U.S. law firm, is offering incoming lawyers $75,000 to take the year off.
Latham, which fired 190 lawyers and 250 staff last week, said it is pushing back the start date for all incoming lawyers from Oct. 18 to mid-December, and offering the compensation to those who wait a year to start work.
San Francisco-based Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is also offering $75,000 to its incoming lawyers in the U.S. to begin in the fall of 2010. First-year lawyers at Latham and Orrick make $160,000.
“It is our sincere hope that those who participate in this program will pursue volunteer or community-service work,” said Latham managing partner Robert Dell. It is not a requirement, he said.
The world’s largest law firms are being forced to reduce expenses and fire attorneys and staff as the economic crisis slows financing transactions and work on mergers and acquisitions.
At Orrick, incoming first-year lawyers who take the $75,000 will be placed by the firm in a public-interest or government job for the year, or in a position with one of the firm’s clients, firm spokeswoman Elyse Blazey said Thursday.
The stipend includes $15,000 to cover costs of taking the bar exam, the test to become a licensed lawyer, a cost firms often cover. Latham’s $75,000 offer includes a $13,000 bar stipend.
Orrick said this week it would dismiss close to 300 employees, including lawyers, worldwide. In November, Orrick fired 40 lawyers and 35 staff in its structured-finance, real estate and corporate practices.