You Must Uphold the Highest Standards...
as a profession are held to the highest moral and ethical standards.
Those standards take effect as soon as you enter law school and should
influence your behavior both in the classroom and in daily life.
conduct in the classroom is of critical importance, so is your behavior
as you undertake your job search. Every step of the search procedure,
from writing your resume to accepting an offer and joining your new
employer, should be governed by the same standards of behavior you
would expect from a senior attorney.
The current legal job
market is extremely competitive. As a result, you may be tempted to
embellish your resume, magnify your qualifications during an interview,
or horde as many job offers as possible. Each of these scenarios may
result in severe consequences.
Law students who
misrepresent or falsify credentials they send to employers may be
suspended or expelled from law school. Employers may rescind an offer
to a student or fire an employee who has provided false information
during the application process. In addition, bar membership may be
delayed or denied to individuals who are discovered to have falsified
or misrepresented their credentials during the character and fitness
investigation for bar admission.
These are consequences no
aspiring lawyer should risk. The guidelines in this brochure offer a
general overview of ethical and moral expectations for students seeking
NALP Principles and Standards:
General Standards Applying To Students (from Part V)
The members of NALP — law schools and legal employers — have developed ethical standards to help guide the recruiting process. These Principles and Standards
are designed to create an environment in which students have sufficient
time to make informed career decisions and employers can rely on
receiving responses at the appropriate time. Important provisions
include the following:
The guidelines provide specific dates for responding to offers, which
depend upon when the offer was received and whether the offer is from
an employer for whom the student has worked previously. Generally, a
student must respond to an offer from a prior summer employer by
November 1 and to other offers within 28 days following the date of
the offer letter or by December 30, whichever comes first. Students are
expected to accept or release offers or negotiate an extension of the
response date by the applicable deadline. There are exceptions, and in
some cases other arrangements may be made with the employer.
Holding offers open:
A student who holds many offers creates a hardship both for the
employers, who do not know how many more offers to make, and for fellow
students, who are waiting to receive the offers that are not accepted.
Therefore, the guidelines set limits on the number of offers a student
may hold at one time.
A student should not hold open more
than five offers of employment at any one time. For each offer received
that places a student over the offer limit, the student should, within
one week of receipt of the excess offer, release an offer.
Preparation and Credentials
Goals and Values
about your career objective and take time for career counseling as you
make decisions. Be realistic and consider your own limitations as well
as restrictions that are beyond your control: economic factors,
geographic considerations and the status of the marketplace where you
focus your search.
Resume and Cover Letter
impressions count - and in legal recruiting, your resume, cover letter,
transcript and writing samples are your tools for being counted.
information provided in your resume and cover letter must be accurate.
Distortion, misrepresentation, exaggeration, or intention to include
inaccurate information in your resume or cover letter is unethical and
inexcusable. You should be willing and able to discuss everything
listed on your resume.
your grades and/or class rank accurately. You should not "round up"
your grades (from a 2.5 to a 3.0, for example), or round down your
class rank (from top 22% to top 20%).
bar status on your resume once you have taken the bar examination. Be
sure to include the date you sat for the examination, the state in
which you took it, and when the results are expected. Upon passing the
examination, indicate the month and year of your admission.
should supply employers with the most current transcript available. If
you have received grades that the law school registrar has not
recorded, you may attach a separate listing of the courses taken and
should be your own unedited work. If the writing sample has been
edited, state this fact clearly. You may also explain the extent of the
editing by others. If your writing sample was prepared for a previous
employer, you must obtain permission from that employer and take any
necessary steps to protect the confidentiality of the client.
General and On-Campus Interviewing
honest. As important as it is to "sell yourself," it is always better
to sell the true you and not simply a role you are playing during the
Recognize illegal or
insensitive questions and be prepared to respond appropriately. Report
any inappropriate questions to your career services office.
the organization's travel reimbursement policies before you make plans.
Know what expenses are considered reasonable and reimbursable. Keep
receipts and submit requests for reimbursement promptly. If
interviewing with more than one organization on a single trip,
establish who is reimbursing what portion before traveling. Do not use
this as an opportunity to entertain friends or charge expensive
dinners, and make certain that all requested reimbursements are
Offers and Decision-Making
offer of employment requires you to make a very important decision. If
there are particular issues that are important to you, ask about them before you accept or decline an offer.
Become familiar with NALP's Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities,
which include "General Standards for the Timing of Offers and
Decisions." Copies of these ethical guidelines are available in law
school career services offices and from NALP.
in touch with the Recruiting Coordinator or an attorney at the
organization. Let them know what you are doing, even if you are
interviewing with other employers. Be honest.
employer's letter confirming your offer should indicate a deadline for
your response. You should make every effort to meet your offer
deadline. Call the employer if you need an extension. Do not wait until
the day before or the day of the deadline to ask for an extension.
Accepting and Declining Offers
job offers, salaries, terms of employment, etc., should be made in
writing by the employer, and your acceptance should always be confirmed
If you know your
decision before the deadline date, you should communicate that to the
employer. If you know you are not going to accept a particular offer,
you should tell the employer immediately.
you have accepted an offer, do not renege. Accepting a job offer and
then calling back at a later date to say you've changed your mind can
be a dangerous game. There may be circumstances which force you into
this kind of unfortunate action, but professional circles are small and
memories are long. Treat a potential employer as fairly as you expect
to be treated yourself.
As You Join Your New Employer
(Updated March 2010)
you begin your new job, you should work closely with the recruiter or
someone from human resources to conduct a conflict check. Be sure to
disclose all necessary information.
Learn and adhere to office policies as soon as you begin.
good management practices. This includes keeping accurate records,
communicating responsively and professionally, and producing the best
quality work possible.