We are finally starting to pull out of the recession, but we are not totally out just yet. The tough times have had lasting effects on the job market and on the general attitude of Americans as well. Some people have adapted to the tough times by switching careers, taking second jobs or even moving down the ladder in the workforce.
One sector of the workforce in which the effects of the recession have had some impact is the law business. The fact that clients are not spending nearly as much as they were ten years ago has prompted big law firms to spawn a new breed of lawyers to compensate. Known as career associates or permanent associates, these legal workers make almost half as much as legal associates.
Some see it as a sign of the times. There are lawyers out there who regret having to take a step back into one of these positions, but it’s not all bad. According to the a recent article from the New York Times, these career associates generally earn about $60,000 a year, but they do not have to put in the long and strenuous hours of legal associates.
Career associates typically perform a lot of the same tasks that legal associates do, including writing briefs, visiting clients and prepping witnesses before court hearings. So they are lawyers. They do a lot of the same work. But the good news is they don’t have to work as hard.
The career associate path is becoming a popular option for those that like to spend more time at home and do not desire to live at their job. This is definitely a more family-friendly position than that of a legal associate, enabling one to work from home and travel less.
Law firms have essentially operated on the same structure for the past fifty years or so. Clients pay big fees for legal services, and legal associates can earn up to $160,000 a year fresh out of law school. But the legal business has transformed to cope with the fact that people are spending a lot less in all aspects of the economy.
This also helps to keep jobs within the US. A lot of the legal work that career associates are doing can be out-sourced to workers in other countries, but this is not necessary. This job title also helps to bring this sort of legal work to cities that do not exist within the realm of massive law epicenters like New York or Los Angeles.
Since career associates make less, a lot of them live in towns with lower costs of living. There’s no reason to uproot the family and move to some big city with all the smog and traffic when you don’t have to.
The career associate offers a lot of the same services as legal associates, and they do get paid a whole lot less. But this is good for clients and for people that do not want to dedicate every second of their day to the legal practice.
So in terms of adapting to the circumstances of the economy and providing opportunities that did not exist before, the career associate is a beneficial addition to the world of law.