THE first-year corporate lawyers of "The Deep End," a series that has its premiere on ABC this week, inhabit an alternative legal universe, where advancement on the partner track seems measured by their perfect grooming and ability to model designer suits and trade flirtatious banter.

In fact, "The Deep End" was conceived in 2007, that halcyon era of $160,000 starting salaries and full employment even for law grads who had scored in the 150s on their LSAT's.

Those days are over. As the profession lurches through its worst slump in decades, with jobs and bonuses cut and internal pressures to perform rising, associates do not just feel as if they are diving into the deep end, but rather, drowning.


No Longer Their Golden Ticket -