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Starting next fall, law students will need to think fast when choosing which offer to accept for a summer associate job, due to a change in timing guidelines. The guidelines established by NALP, formerly the National Association for Law Placement, will require second-year law students to accept a law firm’s offer of summer employment within 45 days. If students do not respond, the offer lapses. The new guidelines, which replace those allowing students months to ponder an offer, are designed to free up the supply of summer associates and help the recruiting efforts of firms with smaller summer programs. “We heard that firms with smaller associate programs were having a particularly difficult time predicting their yield on offers to law students,” said Gihan Fernando, president of NALP. Fernando also is assistant dean for career services at Georgetown University Law Center. 45-DAY ROLLING OFFER Adopted earlier this month by the NALP board of directors, the new guidelines have a 45-day rolling offer provision that includes a countdown ending on Dec. 30. A law firm’s letter offering a summer position to a student determines the date when the 45-day period begins to run. The old guidelines enabled students to hold on to five offers until Oct. 15. They could keep open four offers until Nov. 1 and three following that date. By Dec. 1, students could not hold on to more than one offer. NALP decided to revise its guidelines, in part, because many schools have started their summer associate recruiting season earlier � in August, before the fall semester begins. As a result, students in some cases held on to offers for nearly four months. For Margaret Holman, director of professional development at 190-attorney Ford & Harrison, the time lag made it difficult to plan for the firm’s needs. “It created a hurry-up-and-wait situation,” she said. Giving students until Dec. 1 to decide meant that the firm sometimes had to scramble for strong candidates to fill slots left open by students who opted at the last minute to sign with another firm, Holman said. The change has an “upside and a downside,” said Daniel Suvor, chair of the ABA Law Student Division. It will deter students from stockpiling offers, he said, but it also “shortens a process that, naturally, takes a long time.” Suvor is a student at George Washington University Law School. The NALP board approved the change for one year and will consider making it permanent after receiving feedback from participants in the upcoming recruiting season. Almost all law schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) are NALP members, as are more than 900 legal employers in the United States.

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