Standards for Students Regarding the Job Search
The Office of Career Services, Social Justice Initiatives and Office of Judicial Clerkships (collectively, Career Advising Offices) will continue to honor their commitment to a transparent and fair on campus recruitment process.
These standards are effective as of February, 2020.
A. General Provisions
- Students must comply with these standards and procedures. In addition to the standards and procedures listed here, additional standards governing specific programs will be provided with program information. Failure to comply with the standards and procedures may result in sanctions determined by the Dean of Career Services. Sanctions imposed will be appropriate to the offense.
- NALP, the National Association for Law Placement, has developed principles to guide the conduct of employers, students, and law schools in the recruitment process. Members of NALP (including Columbia Law School, other law schools, and many employers) have agreed to govern their behavior in accordance with these principles. As a representative of Columbia Law School, you are expected to comply with the NALP Principles for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process.
- Missing class for job search-related activities (events, interviews, orientations, etc.) is prohibited at Columbia Law School. As noted in the Student Handbook, “Regular attendance is expected of every student at all meetings of the courses in which he or she is registered.”
B. Working with Career Advising Offices
Students are expected to work with the Career Advising Offices, read and respond to outreach and emails, and avail themselves of the resources and programs provided by the Career Advising Offices.
- Students are expected to treat staff, other students, and others participating in programs with professional courtesy and respect.
- Students are expected to notify the Office of Careers Services when they accept an offer of employment and to provide, upon request, additional information needed for Columbia Law School to comply with institutional reporting requirements.
- Recognizing the importance of the transition to law school, the Career Advising Offices will not begin offering one-on-one career counseling, or application document reviews to first-year students before October 15. (An exception is granted for students applying for 1L summer positions with government employers who have early deadlines because of extensive security clearance processes.)
C. Job Search Materials and Representations
- Students must represent their qualifications accurately throughout the job search process. Any students who misrepresents their credentials or qualifications to any employers will be subject to the Dean’s Discipline.
- Students should be prepared to provide resumes to employers. Every item on a student’s resume must be accurate.
- Students should be prepared to provide transcripts to EIP employers only through an interview or program arranged by Columbia Law School. No transcripts should be submitted to an EIP employer through any other method. Students should not provide transcripts at informational interviews. Under no circumstances should academic information be falsified, misrepresented, or distorted either in writing or orally.
- Students should be prepared to provide writing samples to employers upon request. Writing samples should be original work. Where the writing was drafted with others, the student’s contribution should be clearly identified. Writing samples from law-related employment must be edited or redacted to preserve client confidentiality and used only with the permission of the employer.
- The Career Advising Offices will not release information regarding individual students to employers, other than resumes, transcripts, writing samples, or other materials that students provide for this purpose via Symplicity or directly with the student’s consent.
D. Expectations of Professionalism
- Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner throughout the employment search process.
- Students are expected to treat employer representatives, other students, and others participating in programs with professional courtesy and respect.
- Students must honor all commitments they make.
a. Students must attend all scheduled interviews. A student who fails to cancel an interview in accordance with the deadlines and procedures for a particular program will be considered a “no show.” If a student is a “no show,” that student must promptly write an email apology to the employer with a copy furnished to the Associate Director of Recruiting and their OCS counselor. A subsequent no show may result in loss of access to the forfeiture of future interview opportunities.
b. Once a student has accepted an employment position, that commitment must be honored. The student may not continue to apply or interview for opportunities for the same time period (unless the positions are part-time and both jobs can be held at the same time). After accepting an offer of employment, a student should withdraw from consideration from all other active employment applications.
- Students should only interview with employers in whom they have a genuine interest.
- Students should reach an understanding with each employer regarding its reimbursement policies prior to incurring any interview-related expense. If reimbursement is to be made, students should only request reimbursement for reasonable expenses that are directly related to the interview and incurred in good faith.
- Students should notify employers of their acceptance or rejection of offers to interview and offers of employment at the earliest possible time. In fairness to both employers and peers, students should act in good faith to promptly decline interviews and offers of employment that are no longer being seriously considered. Standards for the Timing of Offers and Decisions are outlined in a separate section.
- Students should promptly report to the applicable Career Advising Office any concerns about possible misrepresentation, discrimination, or other misconduct by employers. The policy applicable to employers is set forth in Section E below.
E. Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policies
- Columbia Law School adheres to the non-discrimination statement endorsed by the Association of American Law Schools.
- As a condition of obtaining any form of placement assistance from Columbia Law School, employers are required to confirm their willingness to observe our equal opportunity commitment:
Columbia Law School pursues a policy of equal opportunity to obtain employment, without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, handicap or disability, gender (including gender identity or expression), or sexual orientation. Columbia Law School communicates to each employer to whom it furnishes assistance and facilities for interviewing and other recruitment functions the school’s expectation that the employer will observe these principles of equal opportunity.
- We are very pleased that under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, gay and lesbian people can begin serving openly in the United States Armed Services. Because of ongoing discrimination against openly transgender individuals who seek to serve in the U.S. military, however, we take this opportunity to remind members of our community of Columbia Law School's anti-discrimination commitment and express our view that the military should take steps to allow transgender individuals to continue to serve openly and remove barriers that currently exist for transgender people who seek to enter military service.
Please note: Because the federal Solomon Amendment threatens the loss of federal funding to Columbia University, Columbia Law School cannot apply its nondiscrimination policy to the military. This exception to our policy does not in any way reflect acceptance of, or agreement with, any existing or proposed discriminatory hiring practices, including against transgender individuals in the Armed Services.
- Columbia University is committed to fostering an environment that is free from gender-based discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault and all other forms of gender-based misconduct. Recruitment activities that are arranged through Columbia Law School, including on-campus interview programs and recruitment events are covered by Columbia University policies.
F. Student Complaint Procedures
- Columbia Law School understands that employers strive to maintain a professional demeanor during all of their interactions with students. If students encounter any behavior that violates section E above, they are instructed to contact the Dean of Career Services, in the case of a private sector employer, the Dean for Social Justice Initiatives, in the case of a public sector or public interest employer, or the Dean of Judicial Clerkships, in the case of a judicial intern, immediately.
When Columbia Law School receives a complaint from a student, the Dean of Career Services, in the case of a private sector employer, the Dean for Social Justice Initiatives, in the case of a public sector or public interest employer, or the Dean of Judicial Clerkships, in the case of a judicial intern, may take one or more of the following actions:
- Place the complaint in a confidential “watch” file in the Office of Career Services, Social Justice Initiatives, or Office of Judicial Clerkships, as applicable. Employers in the “watch” file will be closely monitored by members of the Office of Career Services, Social Justice Initiatives or Office of Judicial Clerkships for a period not to exceed one academic year to see if future complaints are filed.
- Promptly call the employer involved to discuss the incident(s) giving rise to the complaint and seek clarification regarding the conduct in question. To the extent that the Dean concludes that the employer, while fully intending to comply with Law School’s Policies and Guidelines Applicable to Employers, acted improperly, the Dean will request that the improper conduct be modified. If the Dean determines that conciliation is possible and may be useful, he/she may work with the student and the employer to resolve the matter in a manner agreeable to both parties.
- Ask the student to file a formal, written complaint, addressed to the Employer Relations Committee (“Committee”). Once the Committee reviews the complaint, it may decide to take several actions, including conducting a full factual investigation into the complaint and imposing appropriate sanctions if it is determined that there has been a violation of the Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policies.
- If the Committee determines that there has been a violation of the Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policies, it may respond by:
- sending a letter of reprimand to the offending employer;
- informing the wider Columbia Law School community about the complaint;
- placing the offending employer on probation for a specified period;
- barring the employer from participating in recruiting activities for a specified period; or
- imposing any other appropriate sanctions.
The Employer Relations Committee shall be comprised of administrative deans and directors and faculty members of the Student Affairs Committee.
Standards for the Timing of Offers and Decisions
To promote fair and ethical practices for the interviewing and decision-making process, Columbia Law School has adopted the following standards for the timing of offers and decisions:
A. General Provisions
- All offers to Columbia Law School students should remain open for at least two weeks after the date of the offer letter unless the offers are made pursuant to Sections B or D below, in which case the later response date will apply.
- Students are expected to accept or release offers or request an extension by the applicable deadline. Offers that are not accepted by the offer deadline expire.
- A student should not hold open more than five offers of employment at any one time. For each offer received that places a student over the offer limit, the student should release an offer no later than three business days after the receipt of the excess offer. Students are encouraged to hold open no more than two offers of employment within 14 days of receiving their first offer.
- Columbia Law School students are not permitted to interview during class or summer employment times. Interviews should be scheduled for a mutually convenient time outside of class or summer employment.
- Practices inconsistent with these standards should be reported to the applicable Career Advising Office.
- Employers offering part-time or temporary positions for the school term are exempted from the requirements of Paragraphs B and D below.
B. Summer Employment Provisions for Second- and Third-Year Students
Recognizing that the needs of smaller offices can vary greatly from the needs of larger offices who recruit our students, employers participating in EIP are expected to abide by the following offer timing guidelines:
- Employers offering summer associate positions to students in an office with a summer class size of 11 or more 2L students in the prior year should leave those offers open for at least 21 days following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first. Offers made after December 15 for the following summer should remain open for at least two weeks after the date of the offer letter.
- Employers offering summer associate positions to students in an office with a summer class size of 10 or fewer 2L students in the prior summer should leave those offers open for at least 14 days following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first.
- Employers who have offices that fall into both class sizes above are encouraged to adopt a uniform 21-day policy firmwide. Offices selecting the 14-day period will be denoted in materials shared with students.
- If an employer makes an offer to any student before the beginning of Columbia Law School’s early interview program, through the early application period, resume collection or prior relationship, that offer should not expire until at least 21 days following the first day of Columbia Law School’s early interview program. Columbia’s EIP schedule can be found on the EIP website or employers can contact the Office of Career Services at [email protected] to determine these dates.
- Employers are asked to include the expiration date and any reaffirmation requirements of the offer clearly in the offer letter. Students should follow the reaffirmation terms of any offers which they receive.
- Students can accept the offer at any time prior to the offer deadline and should strive to make offer decisions in a timely manner.
C. Summer Employment Provisions for First-Year Students
- To position law students to be as successful as possible, their efforts during the Fall semester of law school should focus on their studies rather than on job search activities. Nonetheless, opportunities to learn about professionalism, professional development, and the legal profession are appropriate early in law school, and Columbia Law School welcomes employer participation in student programs focused on professional development and not recruiting.
- Before December 1, prospective employers and first-year law students should not initiate contact with one another and employers should not initiate formal one-on-one recruiting contact with students, including applications, interviews, or offers to first-year students. An exception for earlier recruitment is granted to government employers with extensive security clearance processes.
- Interviews should be scheduled for a mutually convenient time outside of class and so as not to disrupt students’ studies. We recommend that interviews be held after the end of Fall exams and prior to the January term.
- All offers to first-year students for summer employment should remain open for at least two weeks after the date of the offer letter.
- Students may accept the offer at any time prior to the offer deadline and should strive to make offer decisions in a timely manner.
D. Full-Time Employment Provisions
- Employers offering full-time positions to commence following graduation to any student previously employed by them should leave those offers open until at least October 1 of the student’s final year of law school, provided that such offers are made prior to or on September 2. After September 2 of a student's final year of law school, employers offering full-time positions to commence following graduation to students previously employed by them should leave those offers open for at least 21 days following the date of the offer letter.
- Employers offering full-time positions to commence following graduation to any student not previously employed by them should leave those offers open for at least 21 days following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first. Offers made after December 15 for full-time positions to commence following graduation should remain open for at least two weeks after the date of the offer letter.
- Employers are asked to include the expiration date and any reaffirmation requirements of an offer for full-time employment clearly in the offer letter. Students should follow the reaffirmation terms of any offers which they receive.
- Students may accept the offer at any time prior to the offer deadline and should strive to make offer decisions in a timely manner.
- Employers offering students full-time positions to commence following graduation and having a total of 40 attorneys or fewer in all offices are exempted from Paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Section. Instead, offers made on or before December 15 should remain open for at least three weeks following the date of the offer letter or until December 30, whichever comes first, and offers made after December 15 should remain open for at least two weeks.
E. Public Service Extensions for Second- and Third-Year Students
- Students may request that a law firm employer extend the deadline to accept the employer’s offer for summer or post-graduation positions until as late as April 1 if the student is actively pursuing positions with public interest or government organizations. Students may hold open only one law firm offer in such circumstances. Employers are encouraged to grant such requests.