March 23, 2020
Never have innovation, flexibility, fairness, and wellness been more important. As our law school and legal employer members are actively working through the impact of the current situation on summer programs and recruiting plans, we urge each member institution to consider how it can best innovate through this time of crisis in a way that is fair to all while keeping in mind the wellness of all the stakeholders involved. NALP's Principles for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process are more relevant than ever. We urge you to turn to them as you make decisions about how to proceed, and we encourage you to have frank and honest conversations with each other across the employer-school aisle as you work to make the best decisions you can under extraordinarily difficult and changing circumstances.
In recent days there have been calls for NALP to influence the upcoming recruiting process by moving it to January 2021. While it would certainly be reasonable to reevaluate the timing of recruiting during the COVID-19 pandemic, mandating a specific timeframe for when the recruitment season should take place is not something that NALP is able to do. NALP stands between the highly regulated world of higher education and the incredibly competitive free market of legal employment. NALP does not have authority to regulate the market. As the primary professional association for our members, however, we can embolden our members to maintain the highest ethical standards, and to strive for policies and procedures that are bound by reasonableness and that provide all members with the flexibility necessary to move forward in an incredibly uncertain marketplace.
We urge employers to reach out to law schools and to students with whom you have commitments to communicate about preferences and decisions as they are being considered and made. Similarly, we urge law schools to reach out to employers with whom their students have relationships to communicate their ideas as well as the challenges they and their students are facing at this moment. We continue to believe that the Principles for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process can provide helpful guidance for all parties involved in legal recruitment — law schools, law students, and legal employers.
Successful recruitment of law students requires good judgment and good faith from law schools, job candidates, and employers, even in times of duress. We are heartened to learn about our members reaching across the aisle and thinking reasonably and creatively about new ways to recruit given the realities everyone is facing. We encourage all participants to continue to act reasonably, in good faith, and keeping in mind our law student, lawyer and member well-being. Our member organizations are diverse and their needs are varied, and we have grown well past "one size fits all" standards, while at the same time remaining bound together by our common desire for diversity, access, and fairness.
Beginning this week, NALP will be convening weekly virtual town hall meetings to bring members together to discuss the challenges they are facing and the solutions they are considering. Also, we will be developing a place on the NALP website for members to post policy and calendar decisions they have made, including information about temporary grading regimes, summer program plans, and decisions about law student recruiting.
We have complete faith in our members to continue to talk to one another across the aisle and find creative solutions to the many challenges we currently face. During the current state of civil emergency we do not believe that there can necessarily be uniform solutions that might serve all institutions, but we do believe firmly that there are a multiplicity of solutions that will serve all of our member institutions, and that will preserve the fundamental values of fairness, access, and transparency that we all hold so dearly.
Georgia Emery Gray, President
James Leipold, Executive Director
Recognizing that NALP’s member organizations are diverse and their needs are varied, we have grown past “one size fits all” standards. However, we remain bound together by our common desire for diversity, access, and fairness. To that end, and after careful review, discussion, and debate, the NALP Board of Directors voted to make significant changes to NALP’s Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities, which will now be known as the NALP Principles for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process (“Principles”). The new Principles move from uniformity to a standard of reasonableness that provides all members the flexibility necessary to innovate and thrive in an evolving marketplace.
The new Principles emphasize that all recruitment activities should be scheduled to minimize interference with students’ academic work, and that the legal profession should be accessible to all individuals on a non-discriminatory basis, free of harassment. They continue to promote good judgment from law schools, candidates, and employers. The Principles urge members to aspire to the highest ethical and professional standards, and to maintain policies and procedures that allow students to meaningfully choose between competing offers and allow employers to effectively manage their recruitment processes.