Law professor Lawrence Solan has an idea that may sound laughably cruel to graduates buried in hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
Law firms should cut associates' pay, the Brooklyn Law professor writes at Huffington Post.
From Solan's op-ed:
Why not cut associate pay in the early years? For example, offer them $75,000, $125,000 and $175,000 for the first three years, respectively.
This salary cut will permit firms to continue to train the next generation of elite lawyers in substantial numbers, while shifting some of the cost of training its most junior associates from the clients to the trainees themselves.
Moreover, although large firms face pressure to remain competitive, the promise of these substantial raises should be a significant enticement to attract the best talent. Finally, savvy business clients will respect and choose firms that honestly link compensation to the realities of the market.
Solan's proposal has merit but some big problems, too.
First of all, big firms that cut pay are going to lose out on the most competitive young lawyers. That market competition is what drove salaries so high in the first place — and it's not going anywhere.
Second, you can't cut pay without cutting tuition.
Tuition already increased through the recession, and it is expected to jump considerably in the coming years, with one analyst projecting the top schools will charge more than $70,000 a year by the 2021-2022 academic year.
Brooklyn Law already charges $48,416 per year for full-time students, according to U.S. News.
If Solan's plan stands a chance of working, then law schools should make the first move.
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