The organization that created the December 1st rule is the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), which is an organization that most law schools and most very large law firms belong to. NALP adopted a rule, years ago, to the effect that first-year students shouldn't approach NALP-member firms about summer jobs, and NALP-member employers shouldn't contact 1Ls, until after Dec. 1. The rationale for the rule is to encourage 1Ls to focus on getting used to law school, the Socratic method, etc. during the first few months of their first year of law school, rather than spending time searching for a summer job. The ONLY organizations that are "bound" by the Dec. 1st rule, however, are NALP members -- which, as mentioned above, are almost entirely composed of sizeable law firms in big cities, and some federal government agencies. A number of other organizations voluntarily comply with the December 1st rule, too, particularly nationa l non-profit organizations. But students are not required to wait until Dec. 1 to respond to summer job postings by small law firms, state government agencies, and nonprofits that are not NALP members, and those employers who are not NALP members and do not choose voluntarily to comply with the Dec. 1 rule do NOT have to wait until Dec. 1 to accept applications from first-year law students. Therefore, if you see a posting for a summer position in the Job Bank, in PSLawNet or elsewhere, and the employer is not a NALP member, you are free to submit an application at any time. There is nothing "illegal" about doing so. If an employer is voluntarily complying with the Dec. 1st rule, the job posting will usually say so. You can determine whether any given employer is a NALP member by looking at the NALP Directory at www.nalpdirectory.com.
Submitted by Jane Heymann, Assistant Dean for Career Services on November 17, 2008
This article appears in the categories: Career Services & Student Job Postings