Legal Apprenticeship
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Apprenticeship/Associateship in Law Firms Legal Counseling Report By Cris T. Casiple, LlB-4 Definition Apprenticeship - a practical training on the job supplemented by related theoretical instruction, for a highly skilled or technical occupation for a period of not less than three (3) months but not more than six (6) months. 1 - the act of being trained in a particular skill for a set amount of time by a specific employer. During this time the wages will be relatively low but on completion of the apprenticeship they increase to reflect the increased status of the employee and to recognize the skills required. 2 Apprenticeship in law firm, for the purpose of this report, shall be understood in its ordinary sense (second definition) and not in its technical sense (first definition). Associate - may be a junior or senior attorney, but normally does not hold an ownership interest in the firm even if associated with the firm for many years. First-year associates are entry-level junior attorneys and are generally recent law school graduates in their first year of law practice. Generally, an associate has the goal of being made a partner in the firm, after a number of years gaining practice experience and being assigned to increasingly more important and remunerative tasks. At firms with an "up or out" policy, associates who are repeatedly passed over for promotion to partner may be asked to resign. Some firms will also have "non-partner-track" associates who, though performing satisfactorily as employees, for whatever reason, will not be promoted to partner.3 - Associates are law firm lawyers who have the prospect of becoming partners. Large firms divide associates into junior and senior associates, depending on merit and experience level. The typical law firm lawyer works as an associate for six to nine years before ascending to the partnership ranks ("making partner"). When, and if, an associate makes partner generally depends on a combination of factors including the associate's legal acumen, client base and how well he or she fits into the firm's culture. 4 1 Article 58, Labor Code of the Philippines 2 Oxford Dictionary for the Business World 3 4 Apprenticeship Training A training program or system for the transmission of knowledge and technical skills. It works especially well for all crafts requiring complex skills and techniques.5 Advantages of Apprenticeship - No capital is required to start the apprenticeship. - Legal apprentices will gain a wealth of real work experience (apprenticeships are real jobs with additional training and assessment) which puts you way ahead of your peers in terms of experience. It also suits those who like to learn by doing rather than a more theoretical, academic approach. 6 - There is less risk for a new lawyer to fail in his practice of law, granting that the law firm where he is an apprentice properly supervises his training. - Shared responsibility with the law firm in case of problems to arise in the course of practice. Disadvantages of Apprenticeship - If compensation is to be viewed as a consideration for practice, the same is usually less relative to than earned if the lawyer practices on his own or as a partner. - The quality of apprenticeship is highly dependent on the policies and culture of the firm where it is done. - The apprentice faces same risk as other employees. So, if there isn’t a business need or you don’t get on well you could find yourself out of work after a year or two. Associate Training by Practice and Supervision Examples of how the apprenticeship program works today in most law firms.  A real estate partner, who has been practicing real estate law for years, guides a new associate assigned to her department. That partner had learned her craft years ago from still senior partners. She has since developed her own techniques and ways of doing things. She has mastered her trade.  She now passes on her knowledge and skills by teaching the new associates. It is a process that depends on close supervision. Sometimes it is friendly, sometimes not. That depends on the partner and the firm culture. 5 The Law Firm Apprenticeship Tradition And Why Most Lawyers Are Still Untrained in eDiscovery _ e-Discovery 6  The partner both explains and shows the associate, the apprentice lawyer, the ins and outs of deals, closings, title searches, funding, zoning, contracts, and document preparation.7 Some Facts about Apprenticeship  In some countries, apprenticeship is one way to practice law.  In five US states, you can still take this non-law school route to becoming a lawyer. Vermont, Washington, California, Virginia and Wyoming all allow people to become lawyers by “reading the law,” which, simply put, means studying and apprenticing in the office of a practicing attorney or judge. 8 7 Ibid. 8