Demand has plummeted for first-year associates. For law firms, this presents a modest long-term planning challenge. For law students, the dramatic change in demand is a full blown crisis. I speak at about ten law schools per year, and I can assure you that students are feeling unprecedented levels of anxiety.
For my general counsel readers, this imbalance between supply and demand presents a tremendous opportunity. I challenge you to reconsider outdated assumptions about the value of first-year attorneys. Your assumptions are based on paying for associates in the context of a law firm's economic model. No one argues that a first-year associate at Skadden, for example, is worth $300 per hour. The billing rate and eye-popping starting salaries are by products of a bundled service model under which you are really paying for access to the law firm.