To be fair, McDermott Will has been perfectly open that it has two classes of associates. In 2007 it created a staff attorney track, according to The Recorder:
The idea is that the new hires--the firm is looking into starting with a pilot group of 15--will be lawyers 'with good pedigrees' who have practiced for a few years but don't want to deal with big-firm hours, said McDermott Will partner Robert Mallory said. Instead, they'll put in more like 30 to 40 hours and be paid something like 25 percent less, though an exact pay range hasn't been decided.
At that time, Mallory explained that economics was behind the decision: "In a market where high compensation for lateral partners, lateral associates, and associates [is] creating pressures, we're trying to bring the best-quality service at the lowest price to our clients."Okay, so let's recap. These non-partnership positions have been available to many lawyers in the past--not only at McDermott. But these were positions that were easily attainable by T50 graduates. Now that associates at BigLaw are being put on non-partnership tracks, you don't need a T50 for a non-partnership track attorney. You can get a Stanford, Yale, Georgetown graduate to do the very same thing--forcing scores of T50 into the market with TT and TTT and TTTT schools. So, you can see the impact of this type of move now? The market for everyday normal attorneys is being inundated by the scores of graduates coming in from the bottom (40K+ annually) and then from the T14 at the top. So, you should care about the deferred associates from the class of 2009, chances are you'll be seeing them in jobs that you could have gotten in 2008, before the meltdown.