I realize that most of my readers can only dream of working at a large firm--so what happens once you get there is probably beyond the scope of what you can think about today, when you're unemployed and living in your parent's basement.
However, it's something that should be discussed in light of the theme here: the law school scam. When you sign up for law school, when you're a bright eyed and bushy tailed lemming, you think about the prospect of making partner. That's the way that you decided you may make your millions. You have a chance, right? Wrong.
When I signed up for the dream, I was told that you could potentially make partner in five years. I understood the "over and out" Cravath System--probably not as well as I know it today. But the chance, the glimmer of hope, was there.
Since then, the track for partnership has lengthened:
An associate may have to wait as long as 9 years before the decision is made as to whether the associate "makes partner." Many law firms have an "up or out policy" (pioneered around 1900 by partner Paul Cravath of Cravath, Swaine & Moore): associates who do not make partner are required to resign, either to join another firm, go it alone as a solo practitioner, go to work in-house in a corporate legal department, or change professions (burnout rates are very high in law). [as per Wiki]
Fast forward several years, to when I was working in Big Law. I noticed that the only people who seemed to become partners were outsiders. The criteria for becoming a partner seemed to change from working hard and making your billable hour requirements, to your ability to bring in business. I will be the first person to say that law firms are inept at business. However, this trend makes sense. It just sucks for those who devote 9 years of their life and their most productive years, only to be pushed out by a stranger to the firm. I guess it's the difference between those who appreciate Derek Jeter as a home grown Yankee to A-Rod, a great import. Some people say that A-Rod will never be as loved as Jeter, because he's not really a Yankee in the way that Jeter is.
Then, in combing the news on google, I noticed the trend to take in high powered outsiders with influence and clients is the way to become partner at a large firm.
So, how does this tie into the scam? If the partnership track has lengthened from five years, to nine and then perhaps not at all, why has the cost of a law school education quadrupled? I'm not saying that everyone that goes to law school thinks they are going to become partner, or even wants to. However, if it's not longer a part of the plethora of options as a J.D., why would you pay more for the J.D.?
Do you know anyone who has made partner at a top 200 law firm?
Food for thought.