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Legal Seagulls: Scavenging Work

You'd think the law would be one of our more recession-proof trades — we've been counting on it at my house. At the very least, New York's big firms should have a bunch of Wall Street clients to represent. But it turns out even top 10 firms are starting to pare back.

Layoffs are painful everywhere, but how hard are law firms trying to avoid them? The self-styled "legal tabloid" Above The Law has been chronicling the efforts to cut costs and has noticed that some big firms have found creative solutions. They're offering associates cash (generally in the neighborhood of $75,000) to take a year off from firm life and find an unpaid public interest "internship." Some firms are pushing back start dates on incoming first year associates to January 2010. At least one firm has even offered buyouts.