The Phases of OCI: Final Phase – Offers & Decisions

The National Association of Law Placement (NALP) is the American legal industry’s professional organization for hiring.  NALP publishes helpful guidelines for law students about handling offers and decisions.  Below is an overview of the timing of offers and decisions:

Offers to 2Ls for Summer Employment (if you have not previously worked for the employer):
Students have 28 days following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever is earlier, to formally accept or decline the offer.  Students should reaffirm their interest in an offer of employment within 14 days of the date of the offer letter or risk retraction of the offer.  THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT THE OFFER.  You only have to reiterate your interest in the offer to the employer.  If you need more time to make your decision, thank the employer and indicate that you would like some time to consider their offer, offering to provide them with an answer in a specific amount of time.

Offers to 3Ls Made by Their Summer Employer:
Offers made to 3Ls by their summer employer on or before September 2 are to remain open until October 1.  Students should reaffirm offers within 30 days or risk retraction of the offer by the employer.  Offers made after September 2 shall remain open for 28 days from the date of the offer letter.

Management of Employment Offers:
A student is limited to holding five offers of employment at any one time.  For each offer received that places you over the five-offer limit, you should release an offer within one week of receiving the excess offer.

It is important to read your offer letters very carefully and to track on your calendars all response deadlines.  You do not want to lose an employment opportunity because you miss the deadline to accept.

Accepting Offers:
Accepting and declining offers of employment should not be taken lightly.  Consider offers thoroughly.  Weigh the pros and cons.  Make sure you are confident about your decision.  When you are ready to accept an offer, you can either call the person who extended the offer to you or call the Recruiting Department.

It is common to respond to an offer in the same manner in which it was conveyed (i.e. respond to a letter with a letter, an email with an email, a phone call with a phone call, etc.), but it is not necessary.

If you accept a law firm job offer over the phone, it is usually not necessary to follow up with a letter.  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 confirmation email or letter.

Declining Offers:
You should decline an offer of employment as soon as you decide that the position is not right for you.  It allows employers to determine their hiring needs and opens the position for classmates who might be extended an offer if you decline.  Be professional and decline offers you know that you know you do not want.

Be polite and direct.  When you decline the offer, remember to state your gratitude for the offer, and be sure to thank the employer for their time and effort.  You do not have to volunteer what your employment plans are, but some employers may ask where you will be working, so be prepared for that question.

Additional Resources:
Below are a few of the questions law students most often ask about the NALP Guidelines.  These answers provide you with a quick guide to the essentials of navigating OCI process with professionalism.

Want to learn more?  Click on the links below:

By Felicia Ho
Felicia Ho Career Consultant Felicia Ho