QI am a 3L at a lower Tier-1 school. I summered at a Vault 100 firm last summer and received an offer to return as an associate after I graduate, which I accepted. With firms announcing associate layoffs, I am concerned that firms will start to rescind offers for incoming associates.
Is there anything I can do to hedge against this hopefully unlikely possibility? Would it be unethical to apply for jobs with other firms or the government after I’ve accepted my offer and have no evidence that my firm intends to rescind offers? Or do I just have to sit on my offer and hope for the best?
AUnethical? Do you read the news? The governor of Illinois tried to sell Obama’s US Senate seat. NY “super lawyer,” Marc Dreier, is accused of defrauding his clients and others out of $380 million. Bernie Madoff, the former chairman of the NASDAQ, is alleged to have operated a ponzi scheme with losses estimated at $50 billion. You think anyone’s really going to give a shit about some law student trying to protect himself against the possibility of his entry-level job evaporating before next fall? Sure, you’re probably violating some NALP standard, but I think you’ll avoid jail time, so long as you don’t actually lie in your interviews about the offer you already have.
If you want to spend your last year of law school freaking out all over again about resumes and cover letters and interviews, knock yourself out. Personally, I’d try not to sweat it too much. Times are certainly tough, but most Big Firms had already factored in a healthy dose of pessimism when they made their ‘09 offers back in August. There’s no doubt that some of those firms will rescind offers between now and the fall. But they’re the exception, not the rule. Pulling an offer is something that a Vault 100 firm will do just about anything to avoid. (Well, anything short of reducing profits per equity partner.) The very few firms that went down that path during the last recession still bear the reputational scar, and typically offered something sweet to soften the blow anyhow (a few months pay, deferred start date, etc.).
Unless you have some particular reason to think that your firm isn’t going to make good on its offer, you can probably afford to chill out a bit.
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