As reported in these pages, a few large law firms are rescinding offers of summer associate employment. Some of the rescissions have been firm, with the firm essentially saying, “this offer is no longer available to be accepted.” Some have been softer, cast as “our offer is still open, but if you show up, we can’t guarantee an offer of permanent employment.”
In a series of posts, Elie has urged those of you going through fall recruiting and sitting on an offer (or offers) to accept as soon as possible. This is also the advice of several law school career services offices. We’ve previously posted a number of memos from CSOs urging quick acceptance; two new ones, from Cardozo and Vanderbilt, appear after the jump.
There is much wisdom in this advice — but the situation may be a bit more complicated than it might seem. From the UVA Law Blog:
[T]his “no sitting on the offer” business that ATL keeps propagating…. is far more complex than it would seem. Basically, there seems to be two somewhat contradictory underpinnings of this advice. First, you should accept an offer ASAP because holding multiple offers opern for too long hurts your fellow students. Second, you should accept an offer ASAP because you are likely to lose it if you don’t; therefore it’s in your own best interest. These are two different concerns, and we’ll try to disaggregate them.
Read more, after the jump.
More from the UVA Law Blog:
Holding Offer(s) Open Hurts Your Fellow Students
This is completely true. Many firms place students on a “hold” list after their callbacks while they are trying to figure out how many students (see above), and by holding your offer open that you don’t want, you’re hurting those students, many of whom may not have a single offer yet, even though NALP permits you to do it. So there’s a good reason not to do it – but to me this shouldn’t stop you from holding ONE or TWO offer open if you’re still waiting on another…. Why hold open with two firms? Because one of them might rescind, supra.
This seems reasonable. But what about from a more self-interested perspective?
Holding an Offer Open Hurts You
First and foremost, the claim here is that you run the risk of getting it rescinded, supra. But in a way, that almost suggests paradoxically that you should keep as many offers open as possible (the max is five under the NALP rules, FYI, subject to some date limitations). Why? Well, how are the people who accepted with Akin Gump feeling right now? Probably a bit uneasy. Moreover, if a firm can rescind offer without notice prior to acceptance, who’s to say they can’t do it without notice after the acceptance. It’s not like one option is more not-allowed under the NALP guidelines than the other, after all. Keeping multiple offers open as long as possible would seem to be a good way to keep your options open.
Good points. Now, this kind of “hoarding” of offers could have deleterious system-wide effects, much like the hoarding of money by banks is not great for the economy. But from a self-interested, looking-out-for-number-one perspective, it makes perfect sense — which is why all the banks are doing it.
Last week, at a career services program up at Harvard Law School, Assistant Dean Mark Weber made another interesting point in favor of proceeding with caution. As summarized by a tipster:
Weber clarified in a talk today on accepting offers that HLS’s position is not that HLS students are safe and don’t need to worry about offers being withdrawn, but rather the (logical) argument is that if a firm is in bad enough shape that they might retract offers, then accepting early won’t do you much good. They can always retract later despite the acceptance, or not give a permanent offer, or go out of business…
Basically, why rush to jump on a sinking ship?
Now, look, don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying you should just sit on offers and while away the time because you are feeling wishy-washy. You should endeavor to make a well-informed decision as soon as possible, then act upon it.
But at the same time, you shouldn’t be pressured into a shotgun marriage with a summer employer out of a sense of panic. This is especially true if you have multiple offers. Thus far, the phenomenon of rescinded / “discouraged” offers, while perhaps spreading, is far from universal. So if you have, say, three offers, you can probably afford to take your time. Even if one of the firms rescinds, you still have two you can accept.
It’s ugly out there; proceed with caution. Good luck.
1. BENJAMIN N. CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW — OFFICE OF CAREER SERVICES — MEMORANDUM
Some of you may have heard reports that a few firms have rescinded outstanding offers because they were concerned that their summer classes would be oversubscribed. Other firms are reported to have cancelled callbacks for the same reason. Although you should take the time you need to make informed decisions, you should factor the current economic climate into your decision process. If you have outstanding offers and have enough information to make a decision, it would be prudent to accept your preferred offer as soon as possible. If you have not already done so, please contact [xxxx] to inform him of any and all callbacks, offers and acceptances.
2. VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL — CAREER SERVICES — MEMORANDUM
Offers for summer employment are being accepted at a much more rapid pace than usual, due partly to the 45 day rule. Firms told me that many schools are encouraging their students to accept offers as soon as they get them, to avoid firms filling all their open slots and then contemplating rescinding offers. (Further, as the economy continues to post negative gains, firms may consider diminishing the number of hires they originally had targeted.) I encourage you to accept an offer as soon as you can….