In the column, employment law and human-resources counselor Lily Garcia offered guidance to a "middle manager" at a small firm concerned about their high turnover rate for new associates. The writer claimed that two out of every three new hires failed to last one year:
The pattern is always the same: The associate is hired on, struggles with his hours for the first few months, then over a few more months develops problems maintaining a responsible level of contact with clients, next they struggle with deadlines, and finally when the partners and I are at wits end the associate pretty much stops working, stops billing and becomes a professional liability.
Garcia's advice -- communicate clearly about job requirements, evaluate candidates' skills impassively, and be prepared to train and mentor -- might prove useful to a firm which, in Above the Law's succinct view, "has a terrible eye for talent." At the ABA Journal, the story generated a flurry of comments, with some commenters heartily endorsing the ATL view that poor management is to blame; others, though, seized upon the notion that newly-minted lawyers, with their distinct lack of practical skills, could be the problem.
[E]ven though they have graduated from law school, they are novices at almost everything they try to do. . . . Until law schools revamp their curricula and teaching methods, prepare yourself to do a good bit of training and to make little money during the associate's first year with the firm.
Is this a straightforward problem of firm management, of simply identifying associates who would fit best and overseeing them properly? Or are newly-graduated attorneys an impossible liability for a small firm, bringing little more to the table than advanced study skills and law-review credentials?