View and print in PDF format: Open Letter to Law Students (PDF)
As employer members of NALP, we have developed this letter to give students additional insight into employers’ perspectives on the recruiting process. We think the following suggestions will help you interview more efficiently within the broad provisions of the NALP Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities, and particularly the "General Standards for Timing of Offers and Decisions."The recruiting season is a busy time for everyone involved—students, career services offices, and employers. Many students who are trying to balance academics and interviewing may not be aware that employers face similar challenges in trying to give all applicants careful consideration. For instance, for each callback visit, an employer schedules a round of interviews with its lawyers, considering factors such as areas of practice, educational background, and personal interests, so that the applicant and the employer have ample opportunity to learn about each other. When you take into account that each employer, depending on its size, may schedule from two to twenty or more interviews per day for a period of several weeks, you will realize that interviewing takes up a significant amount of attorneys’ time and generates a huge volume of paperwork, email, and telephone calls.
Prior to beginning your job search, we recommend you take some time to reflect on your goals in terms of working environment, areas of practice, geographic preferences, and work-life integration. Employer web sites and materials on file in your career services office provide extensive, reliable information about many employers that may be of interest to you. Review this information carefully. Don’t assume that all of the information you read on legal blogs or find through internet searches is accurate. Do feel free to ask employers questions. The comments of fellow students who have worked or summered at employers in which you are interested can give you insight into the intangibles of the office’s culture. Speak with your career services office about their knowledge of particular employers. You should now have a basis for making informed comparisons among types of employers, comparisons that will prove invaluable as your search progresses.
As you prepare to interview, take advantage of your career services office for mock interviews and assistance with résumé and cover letter writing. It is important to keep your career services office up to date on your job search.On- and Off-Campus Interviewing
A few suggestions:
When you receive a callback invitation, you have two options: schedule an interview or decline the invitation. If you are no longer interested in a particular employer or city, do not be concerned that your decision will be taken personally. Most employers have a limited number of invitations to extend; you are helping your fellow students by telling each employer as soon as possible that you will not be accepting its invitation.Please keep the following in mind as you plan your fall interview strategy:
After an initial on-campus interview — or an initial in-office interview you have arranged on your own — some employers will reimburse you for expenses you incur, such as transportation, hotel accommodations, and meals. Discuss expense reimbursement policies and procedures before you travel to meet with the employers. Each employer has its own guidelines and limits with respect to travel reimbursement, and these policies may vary depending upon whether the interview resulted from an on-campus encounter or a write-in application as well as how far you are traveling for the interview. Students are responsible for finding out these policies before they travel, and employers are responsible for making these policies widely and easily available to students. Naturally, employers prefer that you take steps to save money when possible: visiting several employers in one trip and purchasing the lowest cost coach fare airplane tickets are recommended.
An important note: many employers in a given city/region are willing to share expenses with the other employers you may be visiting in one trip. If you are visiting more than one employer during a single trip, inquire about their willingness to share expenses with the other employers (almost all will appreciate the opportunity to reduce their reimbursement costs through expense sharing). Typically, one of the employers you visit will serve as your “host” in the city/region, meaning that you will submit all of your expenses to them and they will contact the other employers directly about sharing the expenses. You will find sample reimbursement forms in the materials provided by many employers for on-campus interviews or on the employer’s website. If you don’t find current forms, be sure to get them from the employer before you travel. Many employers state their reimbursement guidelines or limits on their forms.Offers
When you receive an offer, be aware that employers must consider numbers seriously in the employment process. They extend only a certain number of offers because they know from past experience that a certain percentage (which differs from employer to employer) are accepted. If you receive an offer and have no intention of accepting it, please decline as quickly as possible, by telephone or email. If you decline by phone, following up with an email is encouraged. If you wait to decline, you may be preventing the employer from making an offer to another student. For those offers you are considering, you should carefully read offer letters and emails from employers and reaffirm your interest in the position in accordance with the employer’s instructions and NALP's guidelines.
In all cases, you should be familiar with the NALP Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities, Part V., “General Standards for the Timing of Offers and Decisions” (which are available online at www.nalp.org/principles and in your career services office). As outlined in Part I., “General Principles,” students and employers are encouraged to keep the lines of communication open.
Do not be defensive if an employer asks where you will be working when you reject an offer. Employers often keep statistics about where students work. They may also be interested in the reasons for your decision and appreciate candor.
We hope these suggestions will be useful. We wish you well in the upcoming hiring season.