On Friday, we told you that NALP released its updated forms on firm offer rates. There is a wealth of information in the NALP data, and an Above the Law reader teased out the summer offer rate information:
I’m sure you’ve noticed, some firms only give NALP multi-office reports, some give multi-office reports in conjunction with their regular single-office reports, and others don’t use it at all, in addition to the domestic/international differences on some firms… Which is all to say that I might have inadvertently double-counted interns and offers at some firms without knowing about it, and the data may not always be parallel between different firms. However, the information from each firm is at least real and, I hope, comprehensive.
The reader compiled offer rate information for the top 50 firms according to Vault. You can really see an offer rate drop off in the bottom half of the Vault 50…
Breaking news from the land of totally obvious statistics: the class of 2009 got rogered, but good.
The National Law Journal reports that the NALP numbers are out, and the statistics confirm what we all already know:
The median number of offers by U.S. law firms for 2010 summer associate positions was seven, according to statistics released Tuesday by the National Association for Law Placement. That was down from 10 offers in 2008 and 15 offers in 2007.
In fact, the offer rate was the lowest NALP has reported since the organization began gathering offer statistics some 17 years ago.
Only 36 percent of interviews last year resulted in summer associate offers, compared to 47 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2007.
On Friday we reported that, after months of discussion, NALP would be changing to the 45-day open offer period to a 28-day open offer period, and otherwise leaving fall recruiting to proceed much as it has been. Today, we’re learning why NALP decided to abandon more ambitious plans to actually make recruiting better for students, law schools, and law firms. Apparently, fundamental change is just too damn hard. The National Law Journal reports:
NALP Executive Director Jim Leipold said that the organization received 800 responses to the proposal since it was unveiled in early January.
“It became clear that there was no easy consensus or even a trend around one particular idea,” he said. “Law firms and law schools are both conservative and risk-averse institutions. The scope of change was very large and it doesn’t surprise me that there was resistance.”
I feel bad for Jim Leipold. It seems like a large part of his job involves running around explaining why his organization can’t actually do anything useful.
NALP stakeholders may be happy, but students are just as screwed as ever.
If it seems I’m hard on the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), understand that it is out of love. We want NALP to succeed. We want them to gather reliable information from law firms; we want them to provide reasonable guidance for law students, schools, and firms. Having an organization like NALP sounds like such a good idea.
As my Dad used to say, “these occasional beatings hurt me more than they hurt you.”
But when NALP releases new provisional recruiting guidelines that address approximately zero issues regarding law firm recruiting, it’s hard not to go to the woodshed and start looking for switches. Here’s the headline news from NALP:
The NALP Board of Directors has announced provisional timing guidelines for the 2010 recruiting cycle, adopting a 28-day rolling response deadline for candidates not previously employed by the employer, and a November 1 response deadline for candidates who have been previously employed by the employer.
This decision comes on the heels of months of member outreach and industry dialogue about the legal industry’s recruiting processes. In a communication to its membership earlier today, the Board reported on the actions taken during its meeting yesterday.
The “old” NALP guideline provided for a 45-day open offer period. So, for those playing along at home, it took NALP a global economic recession and months of discussion for it to shave two and a half weeks off the open offer period. I’ve seen deck chair rearrangements more decisive than this….
Yesterday we wrote about NALP’s decision to allow firms to blur the equity / non-equity partner distinction. Today, the WSJ Law Blog, the ABA Journal, and Business Insider have coverage of the issue.
But NALP isn’t the only organization attempting to gather information on law firm partnerships. Vault is also in that game, and according to a senior law editor Vera Djordjevich, they have no problem getting the very equity versus non-equity partnership information NALP ignores:
[O]ur diversity survey requests — and most law firms provide — separate numbers for equity partners and non-equity partners. …
The database includes statistics for equity vs non-equity partners for each of the demographic groups the survey addresses (gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability). Of the firms that participate in the survey, a small percentage refuse to distinguish between partnership tiers in their reporting, but that fact is generally disclosed in a footnote. For example, Kirkland & Ellis reports that it has more than one partnership tier but includes all data in the equity partner category, explaining that the firm “does not distinguish between equity and non-equity partners for the purpose of external surveys.”
So Vault is at least asking the questions — but are they getting answers? Details after the jump.
About a week ago, K&L Gates’s Peter Kalis called for the abolition of NALP. Kalis was focused on NALP’s well-documented problems trying to guide the recruitment of fresh talent to Biglaw. Kalis isn’t alone in thinking that NALP does an ineffective job setting out legal recruitment guidelines.
But if the organization can’t even be trusted to accurately report statistics, then maybe we really do need to examine what value NALP is adding to the process. There has been a movement, led by various groups of women lawyers, to get NALP to acknowledge the difference between equity partner and non-equity partner when reporting diversity stats. The distinction is important for women and minority groups trying to asses whether or not firms are doing a good job at promoting women and minorities to partner. You know, actual partners — not the non-equity “partners” who don’t get a share in the firm’s profits (and thus don’t affect profit per partner numbers as reported to Am Law).
The importance of becoming an actual partner as opposed to a non-equity employee should be obvious, but I’ll let Ms. J.D. explain:
Thanks in part to the efforts of groups like NAWJ, NAWL and MCCA, surveying and ranking organizations like Vault and AmLaw have learned to distinguish between equity and non-equity partners when collecting data from firms on stats like profits-per-partner and diversity. As you can imagine firms have an incentive to decrease the number of people they describe as partners when reporting profit-per-partner numbers and increase it to include more women or racial minorities when reporting diversity numbers. Firms care about the resulting rankings. We need to keep these firms honest to leverage the rankings as an additional force for increased diversity in firms.
It seems like the organization charged with collecting partnership data from law firms should be most sensitive to this distinction. But apparently NALP has decided that it will continue to ignore the distinction between equity and non-equity partners.
What’s the rationale for NALP’s position?
We’ve devoted a lot of coverage to the NALPguidelines regarding summer associate hiring. At the beginning of the recruiting season, I suggested that the NALP guidelines were so toothless that law students should disregard them, just as the law firms have done. During the fall recruiting season, Sullivan & Cromwell was eager to ignore NALP, and they were stopped only by collective law school action, inspired by Harvard Law School.
After a second consecutive year of nobody being happy with the NALP guidelines, in January the organization finally indicated that it might change things up before the next recruiting season. The core of the proposed new program would be to set a date before which firms could not extend offers to potential summer associates. At the time, I was unimpressed:
I don’t know. Increasingly, I’m of the belief that the old system just needs to be blown up and a new one should be built from scratch. How can a firm make a realistic hiring decision nearly two years in advance based on one year of law school? How can a law student make an informed choice when firms straight-up lie to them?
We now know that my lack of confidence in NALP’s new proposals was nothing compared to what they were feeling at Jones Day. The firm has been all over the web today, making it known that it’s not at all impressed with NALP or the new proprosed guidelines, which it perceives as anti-competitive.
If Kanye West talked about this past fall recruiting season, he’d probably say: “Biglaw doesn’t care about the NALP people.” This fall, we saw firms give the suggested 45-day open offer period an extended middle finger. Harvard Law School’s career services dean had to lead a revolt against Sullivan & Cromwell. I even suggested that law students should try ignoring NALP, just like the big firms did.
Apparently, NALP isn’t going to take this industry-wide disrespect lying down. They’ve formed a commission! The commission is writing a report! And, by golly, we’re going to get some real, draconian … guidelines, worth at least the paper they’re printed on. Am Law Daily reports:
Among the recommendations, according to three sources familiar with the report: Setting a date, likely sometime in late fall, before which firms would be prohibited from making offers to prospective summers. That proposed structure would replace the current system, under which firms can make offers to prospective summer associates at any time after interviewing them and then must leave those offers open for 45 days.
Respect NALP’s authority!
Look, they have to try something. Because right now nobody is happy with fall recruiting.
“There are no NALP police.” – James G. Leipold, Executive Director, NALP
Oh, but wouldn’t it be fun if there were? Let’s use our imaginations…. As the Bad Boys theme song plays in the background, a bespectacled Jim Leipold, accompanied by a gaggle of burly NALP goons, breaks down the door at 111 Huntington Avenue — the Boston offices of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge.
Leipold and his goons find the recruiting department like heat-seeking missiles, where they confront Katherine Kelly, EAPD’s recruiting director. The goons grab Kelly and turn her back towards Leipold.
Leipold handcuffs Kelly. “You are being arrested for your firm’s violation of Part V.C.1 of the NALP Principles and Standards,” he tells her. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to the managing partner of your law firm, as well as the right to blame the managing partner for your firm’s breach of the NALP rules. But don’t be surprised if you get hit with a stealth layoff after doing so.”
Bad firms, bad firms, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when NALP comes for you?
NALP, the Association for Legal Career Professionals (fka the National Association for Law Placement), promulgates “guidelines that offer an ethical framework for all participants in law student recruiting.” In past years, these guidelines were generally followed by law firms, schools, and students. This year, however, with the economy in the tank, things are… different.
Over the summer, uber-prestigious Sullivan & Cromwell tried to ditch the requirement that law firms give law students 45 days to weigh offers of summer employment. S&C ultimately backed down. But as reported in these pages earlier today, Edwards Angell has told law students receiving offers that they have three weeks to accept, “or until the summer class fills up” — whichever is earlier.
And EAPD isn’t the only firm that has decided to make offers with shorter fuses. Another firm is giving offerees two weeks to make up their minds.
More information, plus reflections on the NALP rules, after the jump.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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