Thursday, January 10, 2019
Thanks to Professor Beth Edinger for alerting me that the NALP last month eliminated the traditional December 1st "rule" prohibiting employers from recruiting 1L law students prior to that date. Further, the NALP eliminated the rule prohibiting law school career services offices from engaging 1L's prior to October 15. Instead, recruiting season is now wide open meaning employers can start soliciting 1L students as early in the semester as they wish though the NALP urges employers to use good judgment by "scheduling recruitment activities to minimize interference with students' academic work and exam periods" and "exercising particular sensitivity during the first semester of law school [by] . . . respecting individual law school guidelines surrounding 1L recruitment." You can read the full NALP memorandum sent to law schools back on December 12 here which describes the organization's new "Principles for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process."
Here is NALP's explanation as to why it eliminated the December 1 restriction on employer recruitment activities (as well as the October 15 limitation on career services engagement with 1Ls):
The Board made these changes in accord with its fiduciary duty to the association and to support
flexibility and encourage innovation. The Board believes that modifying our guidelines to encourage
broader experimentation provides a path to meaningful positive change in entry-level recruiting. The
Principles provide guidance to help member organizations think strategically in formulating their own
creative recruiting policies.
The new Principles are the culmination of the work of several Boards, task forces, and work
groups. They are informed by prior work that highlighted recruiting methods in other industries,
technological advancements in interviewing and candidate assessment, and member feedback over
many years. The Principles provide guidance that all members — schools and employers — can use
to formulate their own ethical recruiting practices. The Board also believes that this new guidance
document is responsive to a current market in which different kinds of employers, both public and
private, are recruiting law students.
Apparently some schools are considering whether, for example, to accelerate the deadlines on first semester legal writing assignments so that 1L students can have their writing samples ready to go much earlier than before. Indeed, that's how the NALP policy change was brought to my attention - by way of a colleague asking whether my school was going to make such changes to our legal writing curriculum - the answer is, so far, "no."
You can read the full NALP policy changes related to employer recruitment of law students here including the elimination of the previous requirement that job offers remain open for 28 days to allow students enough time to weigh competing offers. Employers are now obligated to merely give students a "reasonable amount of time" to weigh their options.