Job Searches, Rudeness, Summer Associates

Dear Law Firms: Canceling Summer Programs After People Bid on Those Programs Is Bad Form

Late last night, we received a tip that has become all too common in the dog days of August. This tipster sent us this letter from the career services office at Georgetown Law:

Haynes and Boone, LLP has just informed us that they will no longer have a summer program in their Washington, DC and Austin, TX offices. Please contact me if you are interested in switching your interview to either the Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, or New York, NY offices or if you would like us to cancel your interview.

These late-breaking summer program cancellations, partial cancellations, or substantive summer-program changes really need to stop…

Okay, law firms: we get that over-hiring new associates is one of the ways you mismanaged us into the massive layoffs of 2009. We even applaud your restraint in summer associate and new associate hiring — assuming, of course, that such restraint leads to higher offer rates for summer associates and better job security for full-time associates. But you guys need to have a modicum of respect for the intense pressure that rising 2Ls are under.

In this market, interview slots are extremely valuable for law school students. There are not enough jobs to go around, and students know it. When they bid on your firm for an interview, that’s one less bid they have for some other firm. When you pull the rug out from under them this late in the process, you’ve essentially taken away one of their few chances to get a summer job. It might not matter to the law firm — they’ll get more than enough applicants for the summer positions they have — but for the individual student it’s a huge problem.

Take these Georgetown kids. Do you think a majority of the GULC students who signed up for Haynes and Boone in D.C. or Austin desperately want to work for Haynes and Boone? Do you think that they told their mommies “when I grow up, I want to be an oil and gas litigator at HayBo”? Of course not. Most of them are just thinking: “I want to work in D.C.,” or “I want to work in Austin.” Switching them from D.C. to, say, NYC isn’t at all the same thing. Instead, they’ve got to come up with some other firm that is having a D.C. summer program to fill the slot.

Only it’s going to be hard, because they learned about this decision so late in the game.

This is a problem that could be easily avoided. Here’s what has to happen:

Step 1: People in law firm management, sit down right now with your fellow partners. Do it right now!
Step 2: Talk.
Step 3: Determine if you want to have a summer program. If so, determine which offices will be hosting the summer program.
Step 4: Have secretary call, email, or fax your decision to all the law schools.
Step 5: Tell the steward that you don’t need another cup of coffee, because the whole process took you approximately five minutes.

See how simple that was? It’s the end of August. There’s no reason a firm can’t figure out whether or not they’re having a summer program by this point. Heck, they don’t even have to decide how many people they want to hire — just whether or not they are hiring people at all.

For the sake of stressed-out law students, please do this. Please take five minutes today and figure out if you are having a summer program. You are so very powerful and they are so very inconsequential. But don’t we judge people by how they treat the weakest among us?

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of summer associates

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