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 for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process.
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 realize that interviewing takes up a significant amount of attorneys’ time and generates a huge volume of paperwork, email, and telephone calls.
To make the best use of everyone's time and effort, given the dense nature of the process, there are certain guidelines that employers would like applicants to follow so that the process runs as smoothly as possible.
Focusing Your Search
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 websites 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. Do not 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 your résumé and cover letter. It is important to keep your career services office up to date on your job search.
On- and Off-Campus Interviewing
A few suggestions:
If you participate in on-campus interviews (or arrange initial interviews on your own) and begin receiving callback invitations, it is time to focus your search further. We recommend that you apply the previously discussed focusing techniques to the information you have gathered from your initial interviews. You should then be able to make educated decisions about which callback invitations to accept.
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 interview strategy:
Additional Callback Tips
After an initial on-campus interview — or an initial in-office interview you 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 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 that firm and the firm 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.
When you receive an offer, be aware that employers must consider numbers seriously in the recruitment 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 your school's recruiting policies.
In all cases, you should be familiar with the NALP Principles for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process which are available at https://www.nalp.org/fair_ethical_recruitment, as well as your school's recruiting policies.
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.
©May 2019, NALP. Permission is granted to schools and employers to create a link directly to this document. For a printable version of NALP's Open Letter to Law Students, see Open Letter to Law Students (PDF).