Firm recruiting changes

January 19, 2010
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If the National Association for Law Placement has its way, January and November are going to become very important months to many law students.

NALP released a report this month detailing significant changes to the recruiting process. The biggest one: Goodbye rolling-offer deadlines, hello offer kick-off days.

The changes stem from member feedback that the status quo isn’t working in the current state of the economy and legal profession, and significant change is required to help members meet current and future challenges.

The NALP Commission on Recruiting in the Legal Profession wants to do away with the current system in which law schools schedule on-campus interviews as early as possible before the first semester to give students a better chance at having an offer extended. Law firms are hopping from school to school trying to interview as many students during this time period as possible so as not to miss out on top-notch candidates for summer associates and new hires.

Instead, a date in January would be designated for 2L recruiting before which no offers could be extended, but may be extended any time after that date. The rolling period of time during which offers can remain open would shrink from 45 to 14 days. If the 2L had previously been employed at the firm, their offer could be extended at any time but would need to remain open until the kick-off date.

The 3L process remains mostly intact, but the report suggests the deadline in November for responding to offers extended to previous summer associates needs to correlate closely with the deadline for full-time offers to those who weren’t previously employed at the firm as a summer associate.

The commission believes adopting these changes will achieve a balance between giving employers additional time to process their hiring needs after looking at year-end financial data and giving law schools enough time to work with their students. You can read the full report on the NALP Web site, http://www.nalp.org/commissiononrecruiting.

There are some firms that aren’t fans of the proposed changes, which isn’t surprising given the legal community’s tendency to resist change and favor the status quo. But the changes aren’t perfect because law firms aren’t required to extended offers on the offer kick-off day, but are prevented from doing so any earlier. Students may receive offers from firms at different times and would face a shorter period in which to consider the offers. Firms that aren’t members of NALP may extend offers earlier, which could really throw a wrench in the process. Indiana has 14 firms – some with various offices – listed in NALP’s 2009-2010 member directory.

NALP is taking comments about the proposed changes through Jan. 29. You can send your feedback to suggestioninbox@nalp.org.

Law firms, students: What do you think about the proposed changes? Will it level the playing field or create different kinds of inequity and challenges for firms and schools?
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