Biglaw, Job Searches, Kasowitz Benson, NALP, National Association for Law Placement (NALP), Screw-Ups, Summer Associates

A Fall Recruiting Debacle: One Firm Decides To Go Explode Some Offers

‘Congratulations on your offer! Take your time deciding.’

The weather here in New York is turning nice and crisp; Sunday is the first day of fall. But because on-campus interviewing gets underway earlier and earlier, “fall recruiting” is almost over for many law students. Those who are lucky enough to be fielding multiple offers for 2014 summer associate positions are now deciding where to go.

But some students are still making up their minds. And one leading law firm wants them to decide faster — or else….

UPDATE (5:40 p.m.): We’ve added comment from the firm below.

The firm in question is litigation powerhouse Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman. Several readers directed our attention to this thread over at Top Law Schools. Here’s the original poster (“OP”):

Kasowitz is calling people with offers right now and asking/forcing them to accept on the spot. Prior to 28 days being up. I believe they are also are over capacity for next summer. Terrifying.

Perhaps KBTF feels that a superior legal mind shouldn’t need a month to decide on a firm?

The mention of a 28-day period refers to NALP’s “Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities”, which provide as follows regarding summer employment offers to 2L and 3L 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. Offers made after December 15 for the following summer should remain open for at least two weeks after the date of the offer letter.

If you read through the full TLS thread, it appears that Kasowitz Benson is doing three things: calling up law students holding offers and telling them that (1) they have to accept the offer on the spot, (2) they have to accept the offer by the end of the day, or (3) they could no longer accept the offer.

We have independently corroborated much of the TLS thread. For those of you interested in a real blow-by-blow of the situation, we have reprinted a message from one upset law student whose Kasowitz offer effectively got rescinded.

So what’s going on here? It sounds like a case of poor yield management. One Kasowitz defender on the TLS thread posted:

I have a bit of inside information – they are very likely not over capacity based on # of acceptances this round and average class sizes of previous summers. The rate of acceptances is just too high for the # of offers outstanding. Sometimes this happens – happened to another firm I got an offer from when I was doing OCI and that firm handled it in the same way (calling everyone up and telling them.) Recruiting isn’t an exact science.

It might be a good idea to accept elsewhere (as the firm has advised it sounds like) but from the number of people I’ve heard that have accepted the class is likely not full yet. It’s just early for them in the season to have this many acceptances. Like I said before, this s**t happens. It’s not “terrifying”, calm down. If you accept you’re not going to get no-offered next summer. If you are particularly anxious there are many nice and helpful people in KBTF recruiting that would be glad to give you more information and help you out.

We reached out to the “nice and helpful people” over at Kasowitz, in both recruiting and media relations, but have not yet heard back from them. We will update this story if and when they respond.

UPDATE (5:40 p.m.): We just received this statement from Kasowitz Benson:

This was an unforeseen circumstance. We took the exact same approach in extending offers as in previous years, but the acceptances came back faster than ever and at an unexpectedly higher percentage. We therefore reached out to students to gauge interest levels in order to maintain our summer class at an appropriate size. We take our summer program very seriously and take pride in the high rankings it receives. In contacting the students with outstanding offers for summer associate positions, we felt we were acting in their best interests. Kasowitz has little attrition and therefore has limited flexibility in the size of our summer program. Too big a program would devalue the experience for all concerned.

The situation is unfortunate and unprofessional. It’s best for a firm to make offers on a slow and rolling basis, sending out additional offers (or rejections) as it sees how its yield evolves, instead of issuing a slew of offers and then either rushing offerees or pulling the rug out from under them.

Sadly, it’s not unprecedented. As longtime readers of ATL may recall, during the dark days of the recession, firms would rescind offers all the time; it was no big deal. This is why Elie Mystal urged law students with offers to accept them as quickly as possible, in both 2008 and 2009.

Law students with offers, consider yourselves warned: congratulations, but don’t dilly-dally on deciding. Especially if the firm you’re dealing with is Kasowitz Benson.[1]

Are you aware of recruiting irregularities at other top law firms? If so, feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

(Flip to the next page for a detailed description of the Kasowitz Benson offer mess.)

1. Of course, the flip side of this argument is that maybe you don’t want to go to a law firm that (1) has an oversubscribed summer class, which could lead to a shortage of interesting work and/or permanent offers; (2) can’t handle fall recruiting in a competent manner; or (3) had a target size for its summer class and then shrunk it dramatically at the eleventh hour for some reason, perhaps due to a shortage of work at the firm.

(hidden for your protection)

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