NALP abandons controversial timing guidelines

by Vault Law Editors | March 03, 2010

  • My Vault

Last Friday, NALP announced that, after “a spirited and thoughtful dialogue” about its proposed recommendations” to change the law firm recruiting process, “it became clear that there was no consensus among the membership about the nature and scale of change that might be appropriate.” As a result, the organization’s 2010 Timing Guidelines “will remain largely unchanged.” There will be no January “Offer Kick-off Day,” the most controversial of NALP’s proposals. Students will have 28 days to consider new offers—less than the 45 they had last year but substantially more than the 12 days NALP had originally proposed. For offers to students who have already completed a summer program, the response deadline will be pushed up from November 15 to November 1.

If the responses to the original recommendations were decidedly mixed, the reactions to the final proposal are hardly more enthusiastic. But satisfying all of NALP’s constituents would have been an impossible task. As NALP Executive Director Jim Leipold told The National Law Journal, “It became clear that there was no easy consensus or even a trend around one particular idea,” he said. “Law firms and law schools are both conservative and risk-averse institutions. The scope of change was very large and it doesn’t surprise me that there was resistance.”

While there has been some “applause for NALP’s restraint,” there has also been a chorus of angry voices, of varying degrees of coherence. Opinions of the original proposals and the final compromise fall into several different camps, including:

I’m so mad I could spit: “I don’t know when ‘it’s too hard’ became an acceptable excuse for refusing to reform broken systems.” – Elie Mystal, editor at Above the Law

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: “I certainly didn’t think the system was broken. It would have been possibly problematic if [the offer date] got moved back to January.” – Aaron Marks, hiring partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman

An Offer Kick-off Day would have been overreaching, unfair and possibly illegal: “Far from improving the process, the Commission’s proposals would impermissibly alter the competitive market for the hiring of law students and would constrain students’ ability to reach early employment decisions that they individually judged to be in their best interests.” – Gregory Shumaker, firmwide hiring partner at Jones Day

Much ado about nothing: “There was a lot of work and a lot of hullabaloo to come up with a change that was seemingly modest.” – Jeffrey Boxer, hiring partner at Carter Ledyard & Milburn

Who needs NALP anyway? “The process by which law firms recruit from law schools fails to serve the interests of law students, law schools or employers. The enabler of this system is NALP… [which is], and for some time has been, a market imperfection — no more and no less. For the common good, it should be abolished, and we should start from scratch.” – K&L Gates chairman Peter Kalis

Back to the drawing board: “To make any kind of significant change, everybody needs to be on board or the changes won’t be followed.” –Mark Weber, assistant dean of career services at Harvard Law School

Go your own way: Aric Press offers “a different way to think about law school recruiting,” with or without NALP.

- posted by vera

Filed Under: Law

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