JUST STAY HOME

l a w b i z It just gets worse: Now they’re paying lawyers not to work.

Partners at the law firm of Jackson & Walker, one of the city’s 10 largest firms, discovered with dismay that the job offers they’d made to third-year law students were being accepted at an alarming rate. Thirty-lour budding barristers said yes to the offer of employment starting this fall-several more than the firm needs to navigate in the still-sagging Texas economy.

So it was back to the board room to figure out how to make the new lawyers another offer they couldn’t refuse. In the end, Jackson & Walker decided to dish out $21, 000 each to lawyers willing to delay their entrance into the world of contracts and trials. They hope the bait will lure away at least 15 of the 34 neophytes scheduled to start work this fall in the firm’s three Texas offices.

Response to the offer has been generally positive. Hiring partner Gerald conley and managing partner mike French believe the just-stay-home policy will keep the firm growing at a manageable pace; still, the solution means an immediate financial burden for the firm-and potential embarrassment among peers.

Other firms, however, might want to stifle the wisecracks; Jackson & Walker’s overly successful recruiting is probably less a reflection of enthusiasm for the firm than a sign of diminishing options for law students who once had their pick of offers from the city’s fast-growing law shops.

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