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It’s a sign of the slow economic times: Students from at least five law schools who had been invited to summer associate positions at Herrick, Feinstein had their offers rescinded last week in telephone calls from the 125-attorney Manhattan firm. Ordinarily, such offers are held open until Dec. 1, in accordance with hiring standards adopted in 1978 by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), except in hardship instances of “extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances.” At the same time, as many as 10 other firms around the country have likewise recently withdrawn summer associate offers, according to the Washington, D.C.-based NALP. Eight Herrick recisions have been confirmed — one more than the seven summer associates scheduled for the firm’s 2003 class. New York University School of Law and Brooklyn Law School each had two recisions; at least two more occurred at the University of Pennsylvania Law School; Columbia Law School and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law each had one. In all cases, the students involved held other summer associate offers. The recisions by Herrick and other firms struck campus placement officials as unfortunate but understandable in light of the poor economy. “I think students are well aware of what’s going on in the market place,” said Ellen Wayne, dean of career services at Columbia. “I think they’re making their decisions much faster, and that may have impacted firm yields. Firms were flooded with acceptances.” Jerry Nash, interim executive director of NALP, declined to name other firms at this early stage of assessing how NALP might formally react to the recisions. He characterized the other firms involved as “mostly larger” offices from all regions of the country. “Clearly by our principles and standards, we stand against the rescinding of offers,” said Nash in a telephone interview. “But we are forced to recognize that this happens because of the realities of the [economy]. “Based on calls we’ve received, there are several firms — maybe five to 10, and likely some others we’re not hearing about — that have rescinded,” said Nash. “It’s a buyer’s market now.” Howard N. Spiegler, a Herrick partner and chair of its hiring committee, defended his firm’s recisions as “a clear choice under the circumstances,” and said the actions fell within NALP’s hardship guidelines. “We’ve never in our history had the number of acceptances we had in October,” said Spiegler. “We had to make a decision.” He said the hiring committee reasoned that had offers not been withdrawn before December the number of 2003 summer associates would exceed the number of permanent associate positions available in the fall of 2004. “We faced the prospect of telling highly qualified people that we didn’t have a job for them,” said Spiegler. “We struggled with this.” Joan A. King, director of Brooklyn Law’s career center, said, “Students have a right to depend on the NALP guidelines, except in very unusual cases, which this was.” Over the years, she added, “We’ve seen isolated incidents of rescinding [permanent] offers, but I don’t ever recall seeing it in summer programs.” “These are unpredictable times, and I’m sure the firm [Herrick] was not happy to be in this situation,” said Joanne Verrier, assistant dean for career services at Pennsylvania Law. “I’m not sure that students are well-served by a firm that takes [summer associates] it knows it doesn’t need.” Irene Dorzback, assistant dean for career counseling and placement at NYU Law, said she had not yet spoken with anyone from Herrick. “But I understand that they were filled to the limit with quick acceptances,” she said. Jacquelyn J. Burt, assistant dean for Cardozo’s Center for Professional Development, said she counsels students to be mindful of the “employer’s market” economy. “I would never advise a student to snap up an offer no matter what,” said Burt. “But I tell them very clearly: be realistic — if you have an offer and you want it, take it.” Should the number of withdrawn offers mount, law school officials might not be quite so understanding. Gihan Fernando, assistant dean for career services at Georgetown University Law Center — who said his school is so far unaffected by recisions — suggested a range of possibilities for dealing with firms in the future: � Tough questions directed at firms claiming they are over-subscribed; � Complaining to NALP; � Discussions with other law schools affected; � Student utilization of employer-related grievance procedures; � The ultimate sanction of suspending campus recruitment privileges. In the case of Herrick recruiting, recisions may also have occurred at two other New York campuses: Fordham University School of Law and St. John’s University School of Law. Jeanne Ardan, director of career services at St. John’s, said “No comment” when reached. Michael Schiumo, assistant dean for career planning at Fordham, did not return phone calls. Nash is not surprised by “No comment,” or the sympathy for Herrick expressed by campus officials speaking for the record. “Schools create their own sets of rules that they can and do enforce, and which are in large part based on NALP’s guidelines, which are not themselves hard and fast rules,” said Nash. “But in a tough market, schools are going to be loath to limit potential employment situations by locking employers out of their campuses.” Some campus officials expressed frustrations about the effectiveness of the NALP rules; one even suggested this may be the “tip of the iceberg.” For the time being, though, Nash described the recision situation this way: “It’s not isolated, but at the same time it’s not epidemic.”

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