Staci Zaretsky, a 2010 law school grad who lives in New Jersey and works for the blog Above the Law, was outraged enough to spread the word about Beck's offer. What caught her attention was the straightforwardness of Beck's posting: "Are You Recently Admitted To The Bar, Or Awaiting Bar Results, But Need Experience For That First Job."
Beneath that heading, the ad read: "General practice attorney with more than twenty years of experience is willing to train a small number of recently admitted attorneys, or those awaiting bar results. For a monthly fee, you will be able to shadow the experienced attorney, and learn by watching the day to day practice of law. Observe the following types of proceedings, as they occur; Civil Short Calendar, motion arguments, foreclosure mediation's, pre-trial conferences, Workers' Compensation and Social Security hearings, real estate closings, discovery proceedings and compliance, research and general office operations. ...
Zaretsky posed as a hungry law school grad and sent an email seeking more information. Mostly, she wanted to know how much money the law grads would have to pay for Beck's service. Beck told her he wasn't sure how much the fee would be; it would depend on how many people participated.
Zaretsky had harsh words for Beck in her blog entry. "Oh, how kind of you to reduce the fee based on the number of applications you receive from people who are so hard up for a job that they're willing to pay for one, even after shelling out hundreds of thousands of federally backed loan dollars in law school tuition," she wrote. "I guess this is the new world that we're living in."
Beck's Craigslist posting caught the attention of others, including the ABA Journal and Legal Blog Watch.
As Jane Genova, a New Haven-based blogger for Law and More put it, "It's come to this."
"This is even worse than an unpaid internship in that a fee isn't required from the intern to gain the experience, " Genova wrote. "Will this kind of revenue producer be censured by the state bar association?"
CBA President Barry Hawkins doesn't see any Practice Book violation or other problems, outside of possible attorney-client privilege issues. But he said that young lawyers would be better served participating in the CBA mentoring program, which currently has more available mentors than law graduates in search of guidance. "Since mentoring is offered for free through the CBA, why would anyone pay for shadowing?" he said.
Others said they expected the state's Chief Disciplinary Counsel or the American Bar Association to step in and take a stand against the practice, though no could think of any rule being violated. Beck does not believe any employment laws or attorney-client rules would be broken, because he made it clear he was not asking the graduates to interact with clients or do any work. He also said he planned to ask judges and clients if it was OK that the lawyers would be with him in court.
Patricia King, chief disciplinary counsel for the state of Connecticut, said no rules violations that came to mind. "But it sure is sad," she said, referring to the overall employment picture.