The Boston Business Journal was tipped off by an employed graduate of Boston College Law School regarding a job listing posted on the career site for Boston College Law. The job posting advertises a job that pays $10,000 per year at Gilbert & O’Bryan LLP. One of the partners at the firm, Larry O’Bryan, said that he has already received 32 applications for the job, which was listed one week ago and said that whoever is chosen will receive invaluable experience.
“What we emphasize is that we do provide the opportunity for new associates to have their own case load right from the start,” O’Bryan said.
If an employee works full-time at the minimum wage in Massachusetts, with four weeks of vacation time, that employee could earn over $15,000 per year. If the full-time employee works at the federal minimum wage of $7.25, the employee could earn $14,000 per year.
The post for the job reads as follows:
“Compensation is mainly based on percentage of work billed and collected … We expect an associate to earn $10,000 in compensation in the first year.”
The graduate from Boston College Law School wrote to the Boston Business Journal with the following:
“I keep an eye on the Boston legal market for openings, because I work outside of MA, and hope to eventually return. Logging onto BC Law Symplicity today, I was shocked to see my alma mater is advertising a full-time job at a small Boston firm where the compensation is expected to be $10,000 per year. Assuming a 40 hour work week, 52 weeks per year, that’s less than $5 per hour by my calculations. To be exact, $4.81 per hour, which is a fraction of minimum wage. For a school that pays cafeteria workers a “living wage,” I find it astonishing that BC Law permits a listing for such an unconscionably low salary.”
The law school has advertised recently that its graduates earn $160,000 per year working for private law firms at the median level during their first year out of law school. It costs $44,000 per year to study at the law school. Josh Davis, an employment partner from Goulston & Storrs, wonders if the firm that posted the job follows wage and hour laws.
“In general an employee who is not exempt from wage and hour requirements has to be paid minimum wage for every hour they work,” Davis said. “If an exemption applies, that may not be true.”
A spokesperson for Boston College Law School, Nate Kenyon, released a statement about the job posting.
“In this challenging legal environment, we feel that it’s better to post any opportunity that offers our graduates a chance to gain legal experience. Other job postings on the same site offer far more in terms of compensation. Of course there will be outliers on both the high and low sides, but our policy is to post any paid legal position that’s submitted from a legitimate source,” Kenyon said.
Kenyon’s statement continued with the following: “BC Law does not edit or add commentary on any job posted through Symplicity, our online job database–this posting was written by the firm that submitted it. We wouldn’t necessarily endorse a full-time job that pays $10,000 a year, but there may be graduates who feel that the experience combined with health and retirement benefits are worth it. We offer counseling and advice, but it’s up to them to decide whether to apply for the position–just as it’s up to them whether to apply for the positions offering $160,000, or a public interest position or clerkship that might offer a different kind of work experience.”
The unnamed tipster wrote the following to the Boston Business Journal: “I graduated from BC Law in 2011, and am employed out-of-state after a long, arduous job search. … To say the least, this kind of ad is demoralizing.”
The job posting for Gilbert & O’Bryan also says: “This is an excellent position for a new lawyer or someone returning to a legal career, and a good place to learn how to practice law with real clients. … Benefits include malpractice insurance, health insurance, employer paid clothing allowance and an MBTA pass. Former employees have gone on to prominence in other firms, government and private practice.”