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Responding to Offers
Responding to Offers
At some point in the interview process you will begin receiving job offers, and likely some rejections as well. Employers typically provide responses to students within a couple weeks of their interviews, although some will act more quickly and others more slowly. If you haven’t heard within a couple of weeks, you should feel free to call or email and inquire about your status and the timing of decisions.
Included in CDO’s Recruiting Policies are Policies for Offers and Decisions which establish the amount of time employers should provide students to make decisions on offers. Employers and students are expected to comply with these policies. According to these policies, summer offers to 1Ls should remain open for at least two weeks following the date of the offer letter. The timing relating to offers to upperclass students depends on the circumstances so please review the Policies for Offers and Decisions closely to determine the timing that relates to your particular situation.
Extensions of Time
If you have a deadline to respond to an employer, but are not sure if you want to accept the position, speak with a counselor in CDO. Depending on your situation, it may make sense for you to ask for more time to decide. However, keep in mind that asking for more time may be a signal to the employer that they are not your first choice. Ultimately, it is significantly better to ask for more time than to accept and later renege on your offer. Reneging is unprofessional and reflects poorly on you and the Law School.
One option, if it fits your situation, is to seek an extension from a law firm employer until as late at April 1 so that you may explore public interest and/or business opportunities. Consult CDO’s Employer Recruiting Policies for more information about this option.
Splitting the Summer
Roughly 5% of first-year students and 15% of second-year students decide to split their summer between two employers, typically spending 6 to 8 weeks at each position. For most 1Ls, their first-year summer job will be their first legal experience. It may take some time to get acclimated to the work environment, to the process of conducting research, and to dealing with fellow attorneys and support staff. Additionally, the importance of securing good references and a writing sample can be particularly important during this time because of the potential need for them when applying for second-year summer jobs. For these reasons, splitting the first summer may not be a wise choice. By the time their second-year summer rolls around, most 2Ls will already have had some experience working for a legal employer. This experience, coupled with an additional year of school, usually provides a level of confidence that will enable a student to hit the ground running during the summer. As a result, second-year students may find splitting their summer to be a wise choice if they wish to explore more than one workplace.
The NALP Directory (in the Recruitment & Hiring tab, under Summer Associate Hiring Questions) provides information about firm policies on splitting. Most firms that allow splits require interns to spend the first half of the summer with the firm and work for a minimum of eight weeks. Public interest employers vary in their approaches to splitting, but often are more flexible than firms. It is also useful to look at the YLS Student Employment Lists on CMS which will indicate if a student reported working for more than one employer during the summer. Also, review CDO’s list of 2L Summer Splits with a Law Firm and Splitting Policies for Firms Participating in VIP 2023.
If you plan to apply for federal judicial clerkships, under the current hiring plan, you will apply in mid-June of your second summer and likely also interview during the summer, as early as in mid-June. Practically speaking, you are going to miss some work to pursue clerkship opportunities which may make splitting the summer challenging.
Keep in mind that the fact that you are interested in splitting your summer is not a selling point to an individual employer as it indicates that you are less than fully excited and committed to working for their organization. Thus, in most situations it is better to wait until you have an offer before inquiring about the possibility of splitting.
If you will be working for more than one employer in the summer, be sure that both employers are aware of your employment plans. It is likely that you will be asked to participate in a conflicts check to determine whether the potential for a client conflict exists. It is important that you do not reveal any confidential information. If you have any questions when participating in the conflicts check, consult with your employers.
Potential Pros to Splitting
- Opportunity to explore two different jobs and potentially two different sectors.
- Ability to expand your network of contacts.
- Greater likelihood of working on a variety of different types of legal projects.
- Opportunity to investigate more than one city.
Potential Cons to Splitting
- Insufficient time to thoroughly explore the position.
- Potential for employer to underestimate your commitment to its organization.
- Inability to secure a strong reference if a supervisor is unable to get to know your work sufficiently.
- Failure to create a strong writing sample if you have insufficient time to work.
- Less time to rehabilitate in the event of a mistake.
- Logistical issues associated with moving to a new city and finding new living arrangements.
Common Types of Splits
- One Law Firm, Two Offices. Most large firms have offices in multiple cities and may allow students to work in two different offices of the firm during the summer. With some firms, this can include a stint in an international office.
- Two Different Law Firms. Trying to navigate a split between two law firms in the summer can be quite difficult given that most firms want you for the first half of the summer and expect to have you at least eight weeks. There are some exceptions to this. For example, many Texas firms are willing to have interns in the second half of the summer and expect only six weeks of work.
- Law Firm/Public Interest. Because public interest employers are often more flexible than firms in terms of the parameters of splitting, this type of split is often workable. A typical approach for 2Ls is to interview at VIP and then commit to a firm for the first half of the summer while continuing to pursue public interest opportunities for the second half. Students exploring law firms and public interest opportunities may wish to make use of the April 1 public interest/business extension policy (see CDO’s Employer Recruiting Policies for more information about this option).
- Law Firm-Sponsored Splits with Public Interest Employers. Law firm-sponsored splits is a particular type of law firm/public interest split in which the law firm allows students to work for part of the summer with the firm, and part of the summer with a public interest organization, with the firm paying the students’ salaries for the entire summer. A list of these special law firm/public interest split opportunities is available on the CDO website here.
- Splitting with a Business Employer. Some law students wish to split their summers between legal employers and employers that are in the business sector. Many business-sector employers are open to summer splits and typically handle splitting requests on a case-by-case basis. Students exploring law firms and business opportunities may wish to make use of the April 1 public interest/business extension policy (see CDO’s Employer Recruiting Policies for more information about this option).
When you are ready to accept an offer, you can either call the person who extended the offer to you, or in the case of larger law firms, you can call the Recruiting Department with your good news. The employer typically follows up an acceptance with a letter confirming the acceptance and providing additional information about the position. With public interest employers, if you accept by phone, you should send a confirming email or letter.
You should decline an offer of employment as soon as you decide that the position is not right for you. Holding an employment offer when you have no intention of accepting it is inappropriate as it does a disservice to your classmates and to the employer It is common to respond to an offer in the same manner that it was conveyed (i.e., respond to a telephone call with a telephone call), but it is not necessary. If you are nervous about calling with your news, keep in mind employers get turned down regularly, and though they may not like it, they are typically quite gracious about it. It is acceptable to leave a voice mail message declining a job offer. If the thought of a phone conversation makes you very uncomfortable, then send a short, courteous email. If you decline an offer over the phone, it is a good idea to follow-up with an email (especially if you only leave a voice mail message) so you and the organization have a record.