Principles and Standards

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Board Adopts 14-Day Reaffirmation Provisions Permanently (November 2015)

At their November 2015 meeting and at the recommendation of the Ethics and Standards Work Group, the Board adopted as permanent the 14-day reaffirmation provision (Part V B1 and V C1) within the 28-day response window for candidates not previously employed.  This had been provisional for the past two recruiting cycles and outreach from Board members and the Ethics and Standards Advisory Group had indicated that some members used them and others did not.  Several members found them helpful in managing yield and in encouraging open lines of communication with candidates.  Other members opted not to use them, but did not object to their presence for those who found them helpful.

Board Adopts Clarifying Changes for Principles and Standards Parts IV and V (February 2015)

At the direction of the Board in November, NALP’s Ethics and Standards Advisory Group recently proposed changes to Parts V & IV of NALP’s Principles and Standards to further clarify the guidelines regarding reaffirmation and the acceptance of offers. NALP’s Board recently adopted these proposed changes at their February Board Meeting. They are now in effect. The new updated guidelines now appear on the Full Text of NALP Principles & Standards page. A redlined version showing the changes is available at

Reaffirmation Provisions - These provisions were edited to clarify that students are only expected to reaffirm their interest to employers that specifically asked for it in their offer letters. To maintain consistency, the sections concerning students not previously employed (V.B.1 and V.C.1) and the sections concerning previously-employed students (V.B.3 and V.C.3) were revised with the same language.

Early “Summer” Offer Provision - Interpretation 20 addressed the start of the 28-day clock for offers made before a school's fall on-campus interview program. This provision has now been incorporated into Part V as a new Paragraph 4 in Part V Sections B and C. Following input from members, the Advisory Group and the Board concluded that it was valuable for this guideline to be located with the other timing guidelines. As a practical matter, it is less likely to be overlooked in Part V; moreover, inclusion in Part V gives this guideline equal emphasis. There is a sense that, although the number of summer offers is still small, the growth of regional or specialty job fairs and other similar recruitment activities would warrant some attention in the timing guidelines. As a result of this action, Board members also retired Interpretation #20.

There were a few additional edits that flowed from these provisions. These are included in the updated Part V & IV on the NALP website and in the redlined version.

Board members also permanently retired Interpretation #13: Extending Summer Employment into the Fall Semester.

Board Adopts Two Provisional Timing Guidelines Permanently (November 2014)

At their November meeting, NALP’s Board of Directors reviewed member feedback on three recent provisional changes to Part V (General Standards for the Timing of Decisions and Offers) of NALP’s Principles and Standards. The Board opted to make the provisional “October 1” offer acceptance guideline for previously employed candidates permanent (in Parts VB3 and VC3), while opting to retain the 14-day reaffirmation clause for candidates not previously employed in Parts VB1 and VC1 provisionally for another recruiting cycle. The Board also adopted as permanent the “Summer Employment Provisions for First Year Students” in Part V, which enables law schools to offer one-on-one career counseling and application document review to full-time students beginning on October 15 (these were initially adopted provisionally in 2013). Full details are available here.

Background on these changes:

Recruitment Guidelines

Law schools, legal employers, and law students together share the responsibility of ensuring fair and ethical legal hiring practices. NALP's Principles & Standards are guidelines that offer an ethical framework for all participants in law student recruiting. They guide the timing of responses to offers and set forth the obligations of all participants in the recruiting process. Compliance with the Principles is voluntary, yet virtually all ABA-accredited law schools and many of the nation's legal employers subscribe to these guidelines.

NALP also offers interpretations of the Principles that provide guidance for dealing with specific difficult recruiting situations, such as signing bonuses, exploding offers, establishing a waiting list, and first year recruiting.

One of the thorniest recruiting dilemmas occurs when an employer receives too many acceptances of its offers to law students. Schools and employers can work together to minimize the effect of a rescinded offer.

NALP has prepared a list of some of the questions law students most often ask about these ethical standards. These answers provide students with a quick guide to the essentials of navigating the fall interviewing season with professionalism.

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