(LA Times, Carol J. Williams, April 6, 2009) Emeka Orjiakor spent his first six months as a real estate lawyer in a sleek glass-and-steel downtown high-rise. Now he's feeling more down to earth in the humble offices of a public-service practice, helping the poor fight foreclosure and eviction.
Orjiakor, an associate at Sidley Austin LLP since September, is on loan -- at a substantial pay cut -- to the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice through a program designed to retain young talent whose jobs are disappearing in the recession.
Across the country, the junior end of the law firm hierarchy has been taking the brunt of layoffs, pay freezes and furloughs as business shrinks and firms trim their payrolls. Summer associate programs are being scrapped or reduced, and many spring graduates who were promised positions for the fall are being asked to delay their start for as long as a year.
But one silver lining is the altruistic use to which some firms are putting their surplus lawyers, seconding them to defend the poor, champion worthy causes or provide full-time pro bono lawyering.
Orjiakor says giving back to society was a strong motivation for going to law school, but student-loan debt and interesting commercial work distracted him from those goals when he graduated from USC's Gould School of Law in May.
(Read the entire article.)