Don’t expect to find fresh new attorneys working at Citigroup Global Wealth Management next year.
Instead, the company is fine-tuning an innovative pilot program for recruiting in-house attorneys by placing them at one of three law firms during their first two years as attorneys.
“We realized that we were not set up to train recent law graduates,” says Shannon Hobbs, Citigroup’s HR divisional manager/senior vice president. “So we were trying to brainstorm a different approach to recruiting attorneys, and the idea evolved when someone said, ‘let’s partner with a law firm.’ Citigroup does a lot of work with a lot of law firms, so when we reached out, we thought it would be an easy marriage of trying to recruit law students to be a legal associate and then come in-house, being a Citigroup employee the whole time.”
The company will select up to six law students to spend part of their 2007 summer associate program at the New York office of one of three law firms and their first two years as attorneys at the same firm.
In hopes that this lawyer-recruitment program results in stronger ties between Citigroup and clients Bingham McCutchen; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, the new lawyers will spend most of their time on Citigroup-related issues.
“It’s choosing a career as opposed to a job,” Hobbs says. “If you want to go on a partnership track, this is not for you. If you want to work in-house, this program gives you the ability to have that law-firm training and then come in-house.”??
In addition to paying the starting associate salaries for these New York firms, Citigroup says it plans to offer a $35,000 forgivable loan that vests over three years. If the lawyers stay at Citigroup for a year after leaving one of the firms, they won’t have to repay the loan.
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“Students had not seen this kind of career choice before; this is truly a new concept for on-campus recruiting. It’s generating a lot of positive energy among attorneys –?they are getting involved to help with the training and adding a lot to the table in terms of designing how best to execute this program,” says Hobbs.?
Citigroup has completed interviews with 176 candidates at Columbia Law School, Howard University School of Law, New York University School of Law, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Placements should be announced within the next week.
Hobbs adds that Citigroup has seen an overwhelming interest in the program and plans to expand the program next year. ?
“It’s a true partnership between the law firms and Citigroup,” she notes. She says the new attorneys will be provided with different “touch points” during the training, including events, networking, and someone at the law firm overseeing their progress.
The Global Wealth Management division at Citigroup comprises the Citigroup Private Bank, Smith Barney, and Citigroup Investment Research.