Lateral Link “Bridgeyear Program” is a Bridge to Nowhere September 10, 2009Posted by admin in : Tales , trackback
Lateral Link is a lawyer recruiting service that works differently than all the others. Once a candidate signs up with Lateral Link they will be given a “search consultant” and access to search the Lateral Link database. When you conduct a search on their database you can view positions but you are not given the employer’s information, you will just be provided with general information about the position (after all if this information was given up front you could simply apply to the position on your own and cut out Lateral Link completely and since they are a free service they wouldn’t be in business very long with this strategy).
Their strategy is a different one. Once you click to learn more about a position a message is sent to your “search consultant” who will see if your credentials match the requirements for the position. If your credentials and the position aren’t an exact match and I mean exact (i.e if you have 1 year 7 months of litigation experience and the post wants 2 years, you will not be allowed to apply—and yes this example is from personal experience) you will not be provided with the information regarding the position. If you do match you will be provided with the employer information and an opportunity to discuss the position with your consultant.
Here is the interesting part, each job posted on lateral link provides the candidate with a bonus of either $5,000 or $10,000 dollars depending on how much the job pays. Jobs exceeding $160,000 a year will give you a bonus of $10,000 and jobs paying less usually carry a bonus of $5,000. In essence Lateral Link operates just as another recruiting firm would, except they share the extra bonus with you. Typically a headhunter/recruiter makes 15%-20% of a first year’s salary. Therefore, for a $160,000 a year job Lateral Link stands to make $24,000-$32,000 on the placement, if you worked with another recruiting firm they would simply keep this entire amount, Lateral Link instead shares a modest percentage (31%-41%) of this fee with the candidate.
In a good economy, if you have decided that using a recruiter or search firm is the right move for you (see my post on recruiters and junior associates) then certainly include Lateral Link in the mix, just be aware of their strict credential matching policy. My take is if you’ve decided on using recruiters you might as well throw one into the mix that allows you to reap in some of the financial benefits of your placement. Although be sure to still consider the calculus of the situation.
But I digress…
The real feature of this post is about a program that I was contacted about a few weeks ago run by Lateral Link called the “bridge-year program.” After reading the e-mail the company sent out explaining the accolades of the program one would think they were being exposed to a unique opportunity for lawyers as amazing as the introduction of sliced white bread. However, this is certainly not the case.
Here is Exhibit A:
Dear [Jobless Lawyer],
Lateral Link is pleased to announce the launch of our new Bridge Year Program. The goal of this program is to assist our Members who have been affected by reductions in force as well as those who are participating in firm-sponsored deferment programs.
Through the Bridge Year Program, Lateral Link is working with our in-house clients to create short-term arrangements, whereby these clients “adopt” experienced attorneys looking to bridge a gap in their employment. In addition to a potential permanent job offer at the end of the program, participating members will receive several benefits including: i) new in-house connections with sought after companies; ii) the opportunity to maintain and develop their legal skills; and iii) a nominal stipend of approximately $2,000 per month during the program.
Lateral Link has already helped attorneys participating in firm deferment programs to obtain positions at several top companies. The Bridge Year Program expands these efforts to include assisting qualified, recently laid-off attorneys who are interested in an in-house legal “internship” position.
We have some great opportunities for attorneys with experience in real estate, corporate, litigation, IP, and other practice areas. Our clients include some of the most well-known names in their industries, from cosmetics and entertainment to high tech and sports brands.
If you would like to be considered for the Bridge Year Program, please provide us with your information.
What a joke. Despite their best attempt to put all the trimmings on this jalopy of a program it is still a jalopy.
Here is the true translation for Exhibit A:
Since we here at Lateral Link are a bunch of crafty entrepreneurs we have determined a way to keep our clients happy, make a referral fee and sell the intellectual labor of lawyers who were negatively affected by the dismal economy at bargain basement prices. We are looking for experienced lawyers who will agree to work for the exploitive rate of $12.50 (or lower) an hour for an entire year at a large private corporation. What they will get in return are long nights and no guaranteed job but instead a wonderful pat on the back and the satisfaction of knowing they may have made “connections.”
If you think this is a harsh critique of the program need I remind you that the participants of this program are mega corporations that only exist to generate profits for their investors. We are not talking about non-profit organizations or groups providing legal services to needy individuals of the community. These are the actual groups that need discounted legal services and would not get help if it wasn’t for pro-bono or volunteer attorneys. I would not include Fortune 500 companies on that list.
I hope new lawyers will spend these rough times helping those in need and volunteering their time, rather than slaving away for a corporation who has the audacity to offer a stipend fit for a summer intern to a duly licensed full time attorney while offering absolutely no guaranteed future employment prospects.
But it gets better. If you thought $12.50 an hour was insulting, wait until you see the true beauty of the “bridge year program.” Apparently the $12.50 an hour is only for premiere placements, others are not so lucky. Most placements actually go for far below this rate.
Before I knew the rates of pay (or rates of “nonpay” as I should call them) were non-negotiable, I wrote to Lateral Link requesting information about one of the placements and asking if the employer would consider increasing their stipend to $3,00 a month (as you can see I was really looking for a sweetheart deal with that request).
This was the response I received:
Dear [Jobless Lawyer],
Unfortunately, this company has a very limited budget… they can only contribute $13,500 for a 4 day work week (about $8 per hour). That said this job would provide for excellent experience and contacts.
Please let me know if you would like to be considered.
[Blah Blah], Esq.
Lateral Link Group, LLC
Oh happy day! The dreams of a fulfilling career that carried me through law school may finally be here with the LaterLink program. Now that I think about it, I believe my first job out of high school as a camp counselor paid around $8 an hour (but the camp also provided me with free lunch and an opportunity to swim every day).
The minimum wage rate in D.C., Oregon, Vermont and Washington are all above $8 an hour so I’m guessing this company probably isn’t based in one of those territories (unless one of their handsomely paid attorneys discovered a wage loophole). My guess is that the folks over at LateralLink probably advised that the company incorporate in Wyoming where the minimum wage rate, is the lowest in the country, at $5.50 an hour.
Unfortunately, as insulting as these positions are, since the actual unemployment rate is approaching 17% (for an insightful analysis explaining why this is the case see this reasonablythinking.com post, put together by a colleague of mine with far more insight into the financial world than I could ever hope to provide– plus you might pick up some good investment tips here as well !) they are nontheless , pathetically, still atrractive to a young lawyer.
Here is my response:
“Hi [Blah Blah],
I appreciate you keeping me abreast to this opportunity.
And I don’t mean to sound rude when I say this but $8 an hour for a licensed attorney … is just insulting.
I know we are in bizarre times with the economy the way it is, but … unfortunately, this is not an opportunity I can pursue.
Some may say I should have just ended it there and moved on, others may say I took it too far already, but I say I was not finished yet. I had to give the executives at Lateral Link a further piece of my mind because this program actually had some potential, but for the fact it was missing a crucial component: respect for the attorneys they hire shown by offering a livable adult wage somewhere close to the fair value of the services they expected to extract.
So I wrote another letter to them:
I understand that for an associate on deferment this type of position makes more sense. I also understand that the deferred associate is who the “bridge-year” program is designed for.
I imagine that under these current economic conditions LateralLink is probably getting an overwhelming response to these types of outrageous positions, because the reality is there just isn’t much out there…
However, for someone in my shoes who was previously earning [a respectable salary] at a large law firm and has over $100,000 in law school loans, as do most of my peers, the prospect of making $8 an hour is a bitter pill to swallow regardless of what contacts or connections may result.
At the end of the day this program allows companies to reap the benefit of bright, young, well-educated lawyers while paying an amount near or below minimum wage.
My suggestion is that the companies you partner with should consider:
1) Increasing the stipend to $4,000 or $5,000 a month.
2) Allowing the participants to work for 2 companies simultaneously in the same geographic region working either 2 and 1/2 days for each company or alternating 2 day and 3 day weeks with each company. This way if each company contributes $2,500 a month the total amount of compensation can reach $60,000 a year which is at least a decent wage, and one most lawyers in today’s times I think would seriously consider.
Again I thank you for your help and attention, and I appreciate your company’s efforts to think outside the box during rough times.
I hope my suggestions are helpful.
Unfortunately, this letter was not responded to and I fear it will never be.
My advice: stay off the bridge to nowhere!blog comments powered by Disqus