Paul L. Caron

Friday, May 17, 2024

Georgetown Deans: Early Big Law Recruiting Is Ruining The First Year Of Law School

Bloomberg Law Op-Ed:  Early Big Law Recruiting Is Ruining the First Year of Law School, by William M. Treanor (Dean, Georgetown) & Amy Mattock (Assistant Dean of Career Strategy, Georgetown):

Bloomberg Law (2021)Law firms traditionally have interviewed students for summer jobs at the start of the second year of law school, known as 2L, or in the weeks before the 2L year starts. This schedule has been in place for generations, and it worked both for the firms and for the future lawyers.

But in the last two years, the timing of the process has shifted, with some firms competing to be first movers, even considering applications early in the second semester of the 1L year. This race to the bottom is harmful to everyone involved.

1L Academics
The first year of law school is when students learn how to think, strategize, and write like a lawyer. Big Law’s push to consider 1Ls for jobs undercuts students’ ability to get the most out of their classes and invaluable extracurricular activities.

The previous practice of an August on-campus interview, or OCI, for rising 2Ls gave 1Ls time in the spring and early summer to research firms, build their resumes, and—most importantly—reflect on what sort of lawyer they wanted to be.

Employers value a students’ thoughtful, deliberate decision to attend law school, but the shift towards early recruiting is making it nearly impossible for students to give that same thought and consideration to how and what they want to practice. This is an incredibly short-sighted practice if a firm wants to hire for longevity.

Employers are now reaching out to 1L students shortly after they walk through our doors, soliciting applications for 2L summer positions earlier and earlier in the spring of their 1L year and sometimes converting applications for 1L summer jobs into offers for 2L summer positions. Many firms opened their 2L summer application portals in April or May. We have seen interviews and offers for 2L summer as early as February of 1L year.

Many students now feel like they’re in a race for employment at the start of their second semester of law school. They’re not wrong. Because students know that grades are so important, we’ve seen many forego important 1L activities like Barrister’s Council. And law students are being asked to make long-term career decisions before they’ve had a chance to research or test the market. ...

This push to earlier recruiting is a tragic case of law firm “FOMO, [Fear Of Missing Out]” though the ones who are really missing out are the students. The push to hire earlier and earlier means law firms have less information about performance in law school. One senior lawyer told us that his firm is projecting greater attrition because of the early hiring process.

Early hiring benefits no one. Firms must refuse to participate in this process of increasing earlier hiring. If enough firms decide not to hire 1Ls this counterproductive process will stop. Nobody wins a race to the bottom.

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