February 26, 2010
The NALP Board of Directors has announced provisional timing guidelines for the 2010 recruiting cycle, adopting a 28-day rolling response deadline for candidates not previously employed by the employer, and a November 1 response deadline for candidates who have been previously employed by the employer.
This decision comes on the heels of months of member outreach and industry dialogue about the legal industry’s recruiting processes. In a communication to its membership earlier today, the Board reported on the actions taken during its meeting yesterday.
In August 2009, in response to concerns voiced by its membership about the current legal recruiting process, the NALP Board formed an independent Commission on Recruiting in the Legal Profession and charged it with reviewing the current recruitment model and engaging in a nationwide conversation about potential changes. In the intervening months, the Commission has undertaken extensive member outreach as well as research into the recruiting practices of other industries, and of the legal profession in other countries.
In early January of this year the Commission issued a report that included proposed recommendations that would have moved the current recruiting model away from rolling response deadlines to a model based on “offer kickoff dates,” specific dates before which offers could not be made. The recommendations responded to the recruiting challenges identified by the membership. During a public comment period our members participated in a spirited and thoughtful dialogue about the proposed recommendations. After reviewing member feedback it became clear that there was no consensus among the membership about the nature and scale of change that might be appropriate. As a result, the Commission did not submit its original proposal as a final recommendation. Instead, based on member feedback, in its final report to the Board the Commission described other possible changes to the Principles and Standards that might be considered.
During its recent meeting, the Board considered all of the Commission’s work, the subsequent member feedback, and the possible changes the Commission described. As a result, the Board took two actions. First, the Board adopted the two provisional changes to the Timing Guidelines as noted above and described in more detail below. Second, the Board affirmed the importance of the ongoing work of the Commission in continuing to explore ways in which the legal recruitment process might be improved.
For the 2010 recruiting cycle, Part V of NALP’s Principles and Standards (the Timing Guidelines) will remain largely unchanged, with the exception of two important modifications.
Two years ago, in 2008, NALP changed the Timing Guidelines and replaced the former December 1 response date with the current rolling offers provision. Since then, students who had not previously worked for an employer had 45 days to respond to an offer from that employer for summer or permanent employment. Member feedback to the Commission this year from law schools and legal employers has indicated that a shorter period will still allow students sufficient time to choose among competing offers. Therefore, beginning in August of 2010, students will have 28 days to respond to an offer from an employer for which the student has not worked. All of the other provisions of the Timing Guidelines related to such offers will remain the same, including the extension provisions, the offer expiration provisions, the number of offers students may hold, and the 1L recruiting provisions.
For offers to candidates who have been previously employed, the response deadline will return to November 1. The reaffirmation provisions for these offers will remain in place.
A revised version of the Part V Timing Guidelines provisions in NALP’s Principles and Standards is expected to be released within one week’s time. As has been the case in the past when there have been changes to the Timing Guidelines, these changes have been adopted by the NALP Board of Directors on a one-year provisional basis, and the association’s membership will be given an opportunity to ratify these changes at the conclusion of the provisional year.
In a statement released by NALP, LeaNora Ruffin, the association’s President, said, “The core purpose of NALP’s Principles and Standards has always been to provide an ethical framework for the recruitment of law students. They are guidelines and not regulations, however. NALP member law schools and legal employers are autonomous organizations, and it has always been up to each law school and each legal employer to agree to the terms and conditions for law student recruitment on each campus. NALP’s timing guidelines provide helpful guidance to our members, and it is a credit to the association and to the industry that there has been broad support for the guidelines, and widespread agreement to the timing provisions in the guidelines.”
Ruffin’s statement continues: “The Board believes that the adoption of the 28-day rolling response provision for the 2010 recruiting cycle accommodates the competing interests of the broadest range of our member institutions. NALP will continue to monitor the ethical framework reflected in its Principles and Standards to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.”
About NALP: Founded in 1971, the National Association for Law Placement, Inc.® (NALP) is dedicated to facilitating legal career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students and lawyers. NALP maintains an online archive of press releases under Media & Sponsorships > Press Releases. For additional information about NALP, contact James G. Leipold ([email protected]), Executive Director, at 202-835-1001. Mailing address: National Association for Law Placement, 1025 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 1110, Washington, DC 20036-5413.