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Firm Life • Inside The News • Trends
A proposal to push back on-campus recruiting falls on mostly deaf ears.
Law Schools to Firms: We’d Rather Not Wait
ACED WITH UNCER
tainty over the economy
and weakening business,
law firms and law schools
this year found themselves
at odds over fall recruitment plans.
Some firms, unsure of their hiring
needs, wanted to push the on-campus
recruiting into early 2010. But law
schools balked, saying that rejiggered
schedules could hurt students’ job
Vinson & Elkins hiring partner
Thomas Leatherbury, for instance,
says he contacted a number of law
schools, including Harvard Law
School and New York University
Law School, and asked them to consider moving 2L recruiting fairs back
to January or February 2010. The
delay, he says, would have given firms
more time to assess their hiring needs
and capacity. Leatherbury also raised
the possibility with NALP in April.
The idea did not go over so well.
“The general reaction was that if you
didn’t get Harvard to move, nobody
was going to move,” Leatherbury says.
In fact, Harvard Law School
was one top ten school that did end
up shifting its on-campus recruiting, though in the opposite direction.
Harvard actually pushed its program
up on the calendar, beginning it in the
last week of August—a week before
classes started and about a month earlier than usual. Harvard has traditionally run its recruiting program several
weeks after those of most of the other
top ten law schools.
“Having a later recruitment date
put our students at a disadvantage,”
says Mark Weber, assistant dean of
career services at Harvard. “The idea
of moving our dates later doesn’t have
any traction right now.”
Career officers at several schools,
including New York University,
Columbia, and Georgetown, contend
that it is nearly impossible for an
individual institution to make such a
change alone, and that the only way
a schedule shift can succeed is if all
schools in the top ten move their
recruiting dates at the same time.
Law schools also say early recruitment is actually a potential boon to
employers, especially since NALP’s
adoption last year of guidelines that
give students 45 days to accept or
decline a job offer. Elaine Petrossian,
Villanova Law School’s assistant dean
for career strategy, says that in light
of the 45-day rule, the sooner firms
recruit, the sooner they can determine
the size of their classes and, if need be,
make additional offers.
The National Association of Legal
Career Professionals considered the
topic at its annual meeting in April, but
by then the consensus was that it was