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First- and second-year students at Hastings College of the Law and Stanford Law School are competing for summer associate programs with law firms earlier than any time in recent years. And Sari Zimmerman, the director of career services at Hastings, doesn’t like the push one bit. Zimmerman said her school was forced to push its recruiting season for summer associate positions a week ahead of normal after other schools moved up their recruiting seasons. “It was really just this past year that it hit us,” she said. “What concerns me is that it’s not going to stop here, that next year we’ll be a few days earlier.” Zimmerman proposes moving back the recruiting season a week and making it at the same time for all law schools. That would give students more time to make informed decisions on the firms they want to bid for, she said. The change would also give firms a chance to catch their breath after the summer associate season and leave them more time to make more informed decisions on fall applicants. The schedule at Hastings gives students one week from the start of classes to the time they bid on which firms they want to interview with. Zimmerman said that if Hastings hadn’t moved up its schedule this year, by the time its students interviewed with firms, the jobs they wanted might already have been taken by students at other schools. The career services department at Hastings plans to raise the issue at the National Association for Law Placement’s annual education conference in the spring, she said. Other schools, including Columbia Law School and New York University School of Law, held on-campus interviews in August. The push forced students at Stanford to put in their bids before classes started. “This year our students signed up in the summer,” said Theresa Beasley, an assistant in career services at Stanford. “They never had to do that before.” “I don’t think I’d like to do that,” said Ramona Mateiu, a second-year student at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. Mateiu worked at Schiff Hardin & Waite in Chicago until the Friday before school started, and was glad she didn’t have to research other firms while working at Schiff. At Boalt, classes started the week of Aug. 20, giving students less than one week to bid for one half of the firms. Ten days later, they bid on the other half. Dean John Dwyer has no intention of moving back the recruiting process at Boalt. “We don’t see any need for it,” Dwyer said. “I don’t think you’ll see uniform guidelines. You’re not talking about the same set of needs at different schools.” Adam Dawson, head of recruiting and a partner at Farella Braun & Martel, likes the idea of having some time to cool down from the summer program. “The way it is right now,” he said, “it is a little bit relentless.”

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