NALP Bulletin, August 2010
The 2010 recruiting season is here! No longer can we refer to our recruiting program as “fall recruiting.” In fact, with the new timing guidelines many of us are likely to complete our recruiting season just as the fall begins.
The NALP Ethics and Standards Advisory Group is eager to offer ideas to make this recruiting season your best yet. With that in mind, we have 28 ideas for a fair process.
Let history help you plan ahead — the 2009 season seems like a distant memory, so take a few minutes to think about how you managed the process, what worked, what didn’t, and how you can adapt your procedures to the new 28-day timing guidelines.
Educate the lawyers — update your internal memoranda and recruiting materials with the 28-day timing guidelines. (Do some of your lawyers still think the deadline to accept is December 1? If so, now is the time to educate.)
Train the interviewers — with smaller summer classes and fewer interviews, be sure that you are hiring the best for your organization. Provide tips and advice at your organization on best practices for interviews. Consider hiring consultants for the interview training. A small investment can pay dividends in good hiring decisions.
Rethink the in-house (callback) interview — will your firm be seeing more or fewer candidates per day? Will you be starting the season earlier or later? Are there other effective ways for candidates to meet with your lawyers and for lawyers to provide feedback?
Manage the schedule — remember to keep room in your schedule for return visits and second looks. With the 28-day timeframe, we may be conducting callbacks and return visits at the same time.
Review the offer letters — remember to update the language in your offer letters to reflect 28 days, including the actual response date in the letter to ensure no ambiguity. Order Part V cards from the NALP bookstore.
Stay connected — throughout the process students are very eager to hear from employers. Make use of technology — consider Facebook, Twitter, or other social media tools to keep students in the know about your organization.
What about the waitlist? — meet with your hiring committee to consider how you want to manage the 28-day offer cycle. Will you have an official waitlist? Will students be advised of their waitlist status or just be “on hold”?
Tracking offers — most recruiting software has 28-day tracking within the system. Get familiar with it. Remember that the 28-day offer period begins on the day following the date of the offer letter. For example, if the offer letter is dated September 2, day one of the 28 days is September 3, and the offer will expire at the close of business on September 30 (unless September 30 is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, in which case the offer should be extended to the next business day.) State the exact date in your letter.
Follow-up efforts — be prepared with appropriate follow-up contacts and activities for those to whom offers are extended. Think about the timing of offer dinners and how to best address students’ individual questions and interests.
Stats, stats, and more stats — review data points and relevant stats from past seasons. What information do you need to track in the 2010 recruiting season? Even with the change in timing guidelines, our statistics on yield are helpful in predicting results.
Communicate with career services offices — law school career service officers are eager to help with the process. If you come up short or student responses are slow, check in with your NALP colleagues. Working collaboratively on the process helps everyone.
Internal updates — lawyers work hard at interviewing, and with the new timing guidelines they will expect results more quickly. Keep them in the loop so they can help with the process. Find ways to reward them for their efforts.
Continually improve the process — whenever there is a change to a system, use the opportunity to your firm’s advantage by continually evaluating and tweaking your processes. Just because you’ve done something one way for a long time doesn’t mean it’s the best way.
Education is key — understand the process right from the start. Review and distribute the handout entitled “Student Professionalism During the Interview Season: A Quick Guide to Your Ethical Responsibilities in the Offer and Decision-Making Process.” Ensure that the guide is front and center on your internal websites and in your interview materials and discussed in your pre- interview meetings with students.
Set career goals — counsel students to be reflective about their ideal job, and their short- and long-term professional goals. The better they understand their strengths, the easier it is to market themselves to employers, and then to prioritize the callbacks and offers they receive.
Know your limits — the NALP Principles & Standards continue to have a five offer limit. Accumulating and holding more than five offers at any time does not benefit anyone. Encourage students to talk through their offer options as they receive them.
Advise students to spend money wisely — professionalism and good judgment are essential qualities for all lawyers. Emphasize the importance of fiscal responsibility and understanding employer expense reimbursement policies. In addition, encourage the tracking and submission of expense reports in a timely and accurate manner.
Use technology — provide suggestions on how to best track the 28 days with online calendars including setting reminders of upcoming deadlines for each offer.
Make good choices — the timing guidelines are designed to give students ample opportunity to learn more about the organizations from which they received offers. Encourage students to do thorough research (both online and through personal connections) on each employer throughout the process.
Take advantage of opportunities to connect with employers — employers frequently offer students an opportunity for a second visit or dinner invitations. Instruct students to attend events when feasible with employers of interest to them and, in any event, to accept or decline invitations promptly. Advise students to come prepared with questions that will help them gain a better understanding of the organization and touch on the student’s particular interests.
Communicate regularly — Remind students that employers are eager to hear from them throughout the process. If the employer has not made a decision on the candidate’s application, students should express their ongoing interest to the recruiter or on-campus contact (or withdraw if a more attractive offer was extended). Radio silence from a candidate is often interpreted by a firm as a sign of no interest in that firm. If a student needs more time to consider an offer, encourage him or her to ask. The student should be prepared to explain the need for more time (e.g., a search in another city, an embarrassment of riches causing the student to need more time to make the right decision, etc.). It is important for students to know that once employers have extended offers, they are interested in having the students work with them — particularly if the students demonstrate good judgment and professionalism throughout the process.
Private sector vs. public sector — students who are actively pursuing positions with public interest or government organizations may request that an employer extend the deadline to accept the employer’s offer until as late at April 1.
Seek guidance — consider how to connect with students throughout their decision-making process to offer good counsel and advice. While technology is a wonderful tool for communication, some of the best career coaching occurs in person, so encourage students to talk with you in person when you think it is helpful.
Take the plunge — employment decisions are important and require careful consideration and thought. Advise students to accept an offer once they’ve done their research, considered their options, and are comfortable with their decision. Remind them that they are not required to use all 28 days.
Saying “no” — declining an offer can be hard, but it is important to the process. Remind students that just letting the deadline pass without sharing their decision (aka the silent decline) leaves a lasting and unfavorable impression. If students know offers are not right for them, they should contact the employer with their decision. E-mail is perfectly acceptable.
Enjoy the process — finding a job is stressful, and finding a job in a challenging economy is even more stressful. At the same time, law schools and employers work hard to make the process informative, helpful, and engaging. Encourage students to enjoy the interview process as much as possible.
Strike a balance — the interview process is time consuming, but school work is critical to long-term success in the industry. Instruct students to work with employers to schedule their callbacks around their class schedule.