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by Vault Law Editors | March 10, 2010


Back when I used to practice and was finding yet another flaw in a proposed argument on behalf of a client, the lawyer I worked with sighed and quoted Spencer Tracy’s Clarence Darrow-based character in Inherit the Wind: “Hornbeck, I’m getting tired of you. You never push a noun against a verb without trying to blow up something.”

That remark came back to me today when I read William Chamberlain’s defense of NALP in The National Law Journal.  There has been no shortage of criticism of NALP in the last several weeks, for proposing to change the recruiting guidelines, for not changing them enough, for trying to collect more detailed statistics from law firms, for not being able to. Some of the criticism has been fair and measured, some of it more strident and extreme.

As Chamberlain, a dean at Northwestern, says, “The reader who is not familiar with the legal recruiting process might get the impression that NALP is a mean-spirited and wrong-headed organization that dictates the rules of recruiting to employers and law schools.” It isn’t. As Chamberlain notes:

NALP is its members — law schools and employers. The NALP office employs a small staff of 12.

NALP is a trade association that establishes guidelines to ensure the fair recruiting of law students. It is not a regulatory agency.

[I]t is unrealistic for us to expect NALP to resolve all of the legal recruiting issues that have been raised by employers and law schools and highlighted by the economic crisis.

Finally, one cannot ignore the impressive work that NALP continues to do in collecting and disseminating data about hiring and the legal profession.

Sure, it can be fun to blow things up, but it’s not necessarily the most useful thing to do when something doesn’t work the way you want. Whatever your views of the recruitment process, to be truly constructive in changing it, it helps to understand the role that NALP actually plays, and what it can and cannot do.

- posted by vera


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