After a year of unprecedented downsizing in the legal industry—of staff, revenue and salaries—many predict that 2010 will see major changes in the way law firms hire and do business. Kicking off the new year with a new, “more mature model” for legal recruiting, a NALP commission has issued a report that could substantially alter the nature of law firm recruitment. The commission recommends, among other things, that law firms not issue any formal summer associate offers to 2Ls until January and that the window during which such offers remain open be reduced from 45 days to 14.
Traditionally, law firms recruit for summer associates on campus in the August preceding students’ second year of law school. The goal is to line up a summer class for the following year, and to offer most of those students the opportunity to become permanent associates when they graduate. However, as The Am Law Daily blog notes, “Firms have said that interviewing so early amounts to making hiring decisions two years in advance—and several months before firms have a handle on their year-end financial data.” The disadvantages inherent in such a recruiting process became glaringly apparent last year when a number of law firms caught off-guard by the economic downturn suddenly deferred associate start dates, reduced their summer programs and even rescinded previously made offers.
The proposed new guidelines are intended to address these concerns, as well as to encourage firms to engage in more “sophisticated” and “in-depth interviewing and assessment techniques … which they may have been unable to previously consider due to time constraints.” Pushing off the offer season into the second year of law school would also, according to the report, give students more time to prepare for OCI and “to make informed decisions about their employment options”—though, with the offer window reduced to just 14 days, it would give them less time to make decisions about specific employment offers.
The report is open for comment through January 29, 2010, after which the commission will submit final recommendations to the NALP Board of Directors. Should the board approve the recommendations, they could be implemented as early as this summer.
- posted by vera
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AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
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