For the last year and a half, there has been a steady stream of articles, blog posts, and opinion pieces about the law school recruiting process. Some have explored new apprenticeship models employed by law firms, others have focused on what law schools are doing to protect students, still others have put a renewed focus on public interest fellowships and job opportunities. Most, however, have merely predicted more doom and gloom. It’s perfectly fine to report what is going on out there, but how many more profile articles and pithy blog posts do we need about stranded 3Ls with no prospects?
That’s why it comes as such a relief to come across an opinion piece about the legal recruiting pipeline that actually suggests bold and decisive action. Not only that, but the author of the article, Aric Press, actually goes so far as to call law firms out and challenge them to push the envelope. Thank you, Aric Press!
In the piece, Press lays out the situation clearly. The old way of recruiting – where NALP puts rules in place that allow firms to go do the meat market on campus interviewing circuit, follow it up with four months of “call backs,” and then submit offers – isn’t working and neither NALP or the individual law firms are doing anything to react to new realities. This part of the article is all well and good, but nothing we don’t already know. What was so interesting to me is where Press took it from there, as he laid out a plan for firms to go outside the NALP system in their recruiting efforts. This plan includes a call for transparency, honest interviewing approaches, and probing to see if the applicant has practical skills that will match the firm’s needs. Press even calls for a two-step interview process with the second session serving as a mock client interaction, to truly test out whether the firm and the law student are a good match for each other.
Having worked in a law firm where everything is hidden behind the magic curtain until it’s “too late,” I am all for increased transparency and more rigorous interviewing processes that truly flesh out proper fits. Press has put forward a fairly bold initiative that would vastly improve the quality of law firm hires and give law students a much better view into life at individual firms. And all at a time when the recruiting process badly needs a facelift. Sounds like a win all the way around.
Now we wait to see if anyone paid attention.
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