This is a guest blog post by Patti McLaughlin.
Congratulations! The first thing you should do is be happy! The type A, detail-oriented people attending law school often head right into being stressed about the decisions they have to make. Please enjoy the moment before you start heading down the stress spiral!
OK…now to the practical matters.
With law firm jobs, you don’t have to accept on the spot. It is good practice to take a day and think about it. If it is your dream job, and you want to accept on the spot…do it, but you don’t have to do it. It is a good practice to talk about these major decisions with your trusted advisors like parents, mentors, professors and your CDO counselor who can help you narrow down the reasons an employer might be a great fit for you…or the wrong fit.
Although multiple job offers is an ideal situation for a law student, it does present a good deal of stress. Your body doesn’t distinguish much between good stress and bad stress so it can feel pretty overwhelming. This situation is often difficult to discuss with your friends who might not be considering multiple offers, so you probably will want outside counsel on this matter. Let’s cover some general situations so you have a guide:
- What do you do if you have an offer deadline approaching and you are waiting on another offer or just haven’t made a decision? Ask to extend the deadline. Contact the recruiter and ask for more time. The firm can extend your offer deadline, or they can say no. But the sure-fire way not to get a deadline extension is not to ask! Don’t be afraid to ask, just be positive, polite, and professional. The worst thing that can happen is they say no, and you are in the same position you were in before you asked. You should also inform any other firms where you have done call backs that you have an offer and when it expires. This information gives the firm your timeline and allows them to speed up their decision-making process when they are interested in extending you an offer.
- What do you do if you have an interview or call back with second or third choice firm, but already have an offer from your first choice firm? If you are 100%, sure that you would not consider an offer from a firm over an offer you already have cancel the interview or call back. As a rule, we don’t want you to waste the employer’s time or your own. (There may be exceptions to this if you are in OCI and cancel too close to the interview date). Simply thank the recruiter and any of the attorneys with whom you have developed a relationship. Let them know that you have decided to go in a different direction. As always, you want to be positive, polite, and professional.
- How do you turn an offer down? Don’t procrastinate! When you have decided you are going to turn down an offer, you should act. Your notification will allow the firm to move forward in their hiring process, and it will decrease your stress significantly. The first thing you must understand about turning down an offer is that it is a business decision. Although it might be the first business decision you have had to make, it isn’t personal. Everyone involved understands this. I promise you are not breaking anyone’s heart. Someone might be disappointed that you are going in a different direction, but there are hundreds of people who would love that job. The firm will move to the next person on their list. Trust me…they will be fine. You want to thank everyone for their time and efforts on your behalf and be positive, polite, and professional. You might decide to work at this firm down the road…keep that in mind!
- How do you make a decision about what firm is right for you? In the end, the choice really comes down to what works best for you. You can look at rankings and get all the advice you can find. You have to trust yourself. Which firm fits best? Only you can answer that question. If you are not sure, ask the firm if you can come back and talk to more people. Find recent NDLS grads who work in the firm and ask them to be honest with you. Let them know your choices and ask their advice. Ask a mentor what he or she thinks of the firm…especially if they don’t work there. You should take careful notice of the atmosphere at the firm. Are the office doors open or closed? Do people talk with each other? Do they talk with the support staff? Some people like a more formal atmosphere and some like a more casual atmosphere. Trust yourself to know what fits you best.
If you have questions or want to talk about dealing with a job offer or any other career-related questions, please schedule an appointment with a CDO counselor.