Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities

(Effective February 13, 2015)

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) was organized in 1971 to promote the exchange of information and cooperation between law schools and employers. In order to advance those interests, the Association has developed Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities.

NALP encourages law schools and legal employers to educate all participants in the law placement and recruitment process about the spirit and the letter of these Principles and Standards. Successful recruitment and placement of law students requires cooperation and good judgment from three groups: law schools, candidates, and employers.

NALP Principles and Standards are organized as follows: (I) General Principles; (II) Principles for Law Schools; (III) Principles for Candidates (Law Students); (IV) Principles for Employers; and (V) General Standards for the Timing of Offers and Decisions.

To review the complete NALP Principles and Standards click here. Part III is provided in full below. Excerpts from Part V are provided below. Students with questions or concerns should schedule an appointment with their primary career counselor in the Career Development Office.

PART III. PRINCIPLES FOR CANDIDATES

A. Candidates should prepare thoroughly for the employment search process.

  1. Before beginning an employment search, candidates should engage in thorough self-examination. Work skills, vocational aptitudes and interests, lifestyle and geographic preferences, academic performance, career expectations and life experiences should be carefully evaluated so that informed choices can be made. General instruction should be obtained on employment search skills, particularly those relating to the interview process.
  2. Prior to making employment inquiries, candidates should learn as much as possible about target employers and the nature of their positions. Candidates should interview only with employers in whom they have a genuine interest.
  3. Candidates should comply with the policies and procedures of each law school from which they obtain services.

B. Throughout the employment search process candidates should represent their qualifications and interests fully and accurately.

  1. Candidates should be prepared to provide, at employers' request, copies of all academic transcripts. Under no circumstances should academic biographical data be falsified, misrepresented, or distorted either in writing or orally. Candidates who engage in such conduct may be subject to elimination from consideration for employment by the employer, suspension or other academic discipline by the law school, and disqualification from admission to practice by bar admission authorities.
  2. Candidates should be prepared to advise prospective employers of the nature and extent of their training in legal writing. Writing samples submitted as evidence of a candidate's legal skills should be wholly original work. Where the writing was done with others, the candidate's contribution should be clearly identified. Writing samples from law-related employment must be masked adequately to preserve client confidentiality and used only with the permission of the supervising attorney.

C. Throughout the employment search process, candidates should conduct themselves in a professional manner.

  1. Candidates who participate in the on-campus interview process should adhere to all scheduling commitments. Cancellations should occur only for good cause and should be promptly communicated to the office of career services and the employer.
  2. Candidates should respond promptly to invitations for in-office interviews and accept such invitations only if the candidate has a genuine interest in the employer. With respect to all other requests for information or invitations from employers, candidates should respond promptly.
  3. Candidates should reach an understanding with the employer regarding its reimbursement policies prior to the trip. Expenses for trips during which interviews with more than one employer occur should be prorated in accordance with those employers' reimbursement policies.
  4. Candidates invited to interview at employer offices should request reimbursement for reasonable expenses that are directly related to the interview and incurred in good faith. Failure to observe this policy, or falsification or misrepresentation of travel expenses, may result in non-reimbursement and elimination from consideration for employment or the revocation of offers by an employer.
  5. Candidates should handle in a timely manner any changes or cancellations to an in-office interview including cancellation of any travel arrangements.

D. Candidates should notify employers and their office of career services of their acceptance or rejection of employment offers by the earliest possible time, and no later than the time established by rule, custom, or agreement.

  1. Candidates should expect offers to be confirmed in writing. Candidates should abide by the standards for candidate responses set out in Part V and should in any event notify the employer as soon as their decision is made, even if that decision is made in advance of the prevailing deadline date.
  2. In fairness to both employers and peers, candidates should act in good faith to decline promptly offers for interviews and employment which are no longer being seriously considered. In order for law schools to comply with federal and institutional reporting requirements, candidates should notify the office of career services upon acceptance of an employment offer, whether or not the employment was obtained through the office.
  3. Candidates seeking or preparing to accept fellowships, judicial clerkships, or other limited term professional employment should apprise prospective employers of their intentions and obtain a clear understanding of their offer deferral policies.

E. Candidates should honor their employment commitments.

  1. Candidates should, upon acceptance of an offer of employment, notify their office of career services and notify all employers who consider them to be active candidates that they have accepted a position.
  2. If, because of extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances, it becomes necessary for a candidate to modify or be released from his or her acceptance, both the employer and the office of career services should be notified promptly in writing.

F. Candidates should promptly report to the office of career services any misrepresentation, discrimination or other abuse by employers in the employment process.

G. Students who engage in law-related employment should adhere to the same standards of conduct as lawyers.

  1. In matters arising out of law-related employment, students should be guided by the standards for professional conduct which are applicable in the employer's state. When acting on behalf of employers in a recruitment capacity, students should be guided by the employer principles in Part IV.
  2. Students should exercise care to provide representative and fair information when advising peers about former employers.

PART V. GENERAL STANDARDS FOR THE TIMING OF OFFERS AND DECISIONS

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To promote fair and ethical practices for the interviewing and decision-making process, NALP offers the following standards for the timing of offers and decisions:

A. General Provisions

All offers to law student candidates (“candidates”) should remain open for at least two weeks after the date of the offer letter unless the offers are made pursuant to Sections B and C below, in which case the later response date should apply.

Candidates are expected to accept or release offers or request an extension by the applicable deadline. Offers that are not accepted by the offer deadline expire.

A candidate should not hold open more than five offers of employment at any one time. For each offer received that places a candidate over the offer limit, the candidate should, within one week of receipt of the excess offer, release an offer.

Employers offering part-time or temporary positions for the school term are exempted from the requirements of Paragraphs B and C below.

Practices inconsistent with these guidelines should be reported to the candidate’s career services office.

B. Full-Time Employment Provisions

Employers offering full-time positions to commence following graduation to candidates not previously employed by them should leave those offers open for at least 28 days following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first. Candidates should reaffirm these offers within 14 days from the date of the offer letter, if an employer requests such reaffirmation in its offer letter.  Employers that have requested this reaffirmation may retract any offer that is not reaffirmed within the 14-day period.  Offers made after December 15 for full-time positions to commence following graduation should remain open for at least two weeks after the date of the offer letter.

Candidates may request that an employer extend the deadline to accept the employer’s offer until as late as April 1 if the candidate is actively pursuing positions with public interest or government organizations. Candidates may hold open only one offer in such circumstances. Employers are encouraged to grant such requests.

Employers offering full-time positions to commence following graduation to candidates previously employed by them should leave those offers open until at least October 1 of the candidate’s final year of law school, provided that such offers are made prior to or on September 2. Candidates should reaffirm these offers within thirty days from the date of the offer letter, if an employer requests such reaffirmation in its offer letter. Employers that have requested this reaffirmation may retract any offer that is not reaffirmed within the 30-day period.  After September 2 of a candidate's final year of law school, employers offering full-time positions to commence following graduation to candidates previously employed by them should leave those offers open for at least 28 days following the date of the offer letter.

If an employer makes an offer to a law student candidate not previously employed by that employer before the beginning the law school's on-campus interview program, that offer should not expire until at least 28 days following the first day of the law school's on-campus interview program.  Employers should contact the appropriate law school(s) to determine these dates.  See Part IV F above.

Employers offering candidates full-time positions to commence following graduation and having a total of 40 attorneys or fewer in all offices are exempted from Paragraphs 1-4 of this Section. Instead, offers made on or before December 15 should remain open for at least three weeks following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first, and offers made after December 15 should remain open for at least two weeks.

C. Summer Employment Provisions for Second and Third Year Students

Employers offering positions for the following summer to candidates not previously employed by them should leave those offers open for at least 28 days following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first. Candidates should reaffirm these offers within 14 days from the date of the offer letter, if an employer requests such affirmation in its offer letter. Employers that have requested this reaffirmation may retract any offer that is not reaffirmed within the 14-day period. Offers made after December 15 for the following summer should remain open for at least two weeks after the date of the offer letter.

Candidates may request that an employer extend the deadline to accept the employer’s offer until as late as April 1 if the candidate is actively pursuing positions with public interest or government organizations. Candidates may hold open only one offer in such circumstances. Employers are encouraged to grant such requests.

Employers offering positions for the following summer to candidates previously employed by them should leave those offers open until at least October 1, provided that such offers are made prior to or on September 2. Candidates should reaffirm these offers within thirty days from the date of the offer letter, if an employer requests such reaffirmation in its offer letter. Employers that have requested this reaffirmation may retract any offer that is not reaffirmed within the 30-day period.  After September 2, employers offering positions for the following summer to candidates previously employed by them should leave those offers open for at least 28 days following the date of the offer letter.

If an employer makes an offer to a law student candidate not previously employed by that employer before the beginning the law school's on-campus interview program, that offer should not expire until at least 28 days following the first day of the law school's on-campus interview program.  Employers should contact the appropriate law school(s) to determine these dates.  See Part IV F above.

Employers offering candidates positions for the following summer and having a total of 40 attorneys or fewer in all offices are exempted from Paragraphs 1-4 of this Section. Instead, offers made on or before December 15 should remain open for at least three weeks following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first, and offers made after December 15 should remain open for at least two weeks.

D. Summer Employment Provisions for First Year Students

To position law students to be as successful as possible, their efforts during the first semester of law school should focus on their studies rather than on job search activities.  Nonetheless, opportunities to learn about professionalism, professional development and the legal profession are appropriate early in law school.  Recognizing that law schools will differ in philosophy as to first-year career development activities, law schools nevertheless should not begin offering one-on-one career counseling or application document reviews to first-year students before October 15 (except in the case of part-time students who may be given assistance in seeking positions during the school term).  Individual law schools may set later dates as appropriate. 

Prospective employers and first year law students should not initiate contact with one another and employers should not interview or make offers to first year students before December 1.

All offers to first year students for summer employment should remain open for at least two weeks after the date made.