Friday, October 20, 2006

Law Firm Rate of Return

NALP. It sounds swell on paper—a structured way for students and firms to get together. Top law schools have a commodity. In many respects it is a sellers market, even in a bad economy, because the top students from top law schools (I leave, for now, the argument that a top student from a top law firm really is worth her weight in gold) are still limited in availability when held against the mass of graduates each year. So, a few law schools, if they come together (as they have), can shape the way students are recruited. Again, on paper, this works well. Students and firms have a chance to pre-screen each other for a few days (at many schools this is before classes start, so there are fewer distractions) before deciding where to go to “take this relationship to another level.” Due to the guidelines, students are not forced to select a firm on the spot, and may keep several offers outstanding for quite some time. Once they match up with a firm that fits them best, then they release the other offers and inform the “lucky” firm that they will be summering with them. If everything goes well, at the end of the summer the student will get an offer, and will be able to hold this offer open until after the next round of interviewing finishes for the following summer (most students do not double dip—meaning, going through OCI (on campus interviewing) twice, but some do, and can without having to turn down the firm that has offered them a job).

All of this is reported to NALP. NALP publishes several items about each firm’s recruiting, and students use NALP as part of their research when selecting firms. In my opinion, this creates a dilemma for both firms and students. [Note: I’m all for the more information the better. I don’t advocate not publishing this info, but I do want to address what damage this information might be contributing to.]

The stakes are very high when choosing where one will go in the summer between their 2L year and 3L year. While getting an offer to join a firm for permanent employment post graduation is nice, not getting an offer is really at issue. Returning from your post-2L summer without an offer can be the ‘kiss of death.’ (Okay, a bit dramatic, but it is said to really suck.) With no offer in your 3L year, that second OCI becomes an impossible task: “Oh, Mrs. Smith, I see you went to last summer, did you get an offer?” If you answer this “no” your already slim chance of a job offer (as most firms want to have you as a 2L first) goes from slim to none. Also, if you chose to look for clerkships post-2L summer, the issue will come up as well: “I see you were at this summer, they are a fine firm, are you planning to return?”

Alright, then, what’s the problem?

Well, if you know how important it is to get an offer from your summer firm, even if you have no plans of returning, what one piece of information to you think might matter most? I’ll tell you. The most important numbers are: How many Summers did they invite for the summer, and how many of those were offered permanent employment (received an offer). I call this, crazily enough, the “return rate.”

10 Summers :: 10 return offers = 100% return rate. 10 Summers :: 7 return offers = 70% return rate.

Right, you get it.

So, if most law firms look the same to most students (as I believe they do), what might be a deciding factor? The highest return rate wins. Because getting the offer is so important, a student torn between several firms (or more likely the case, indifferent to several firms) will look to the firm that gives them the highest probability of securing the offer (past performance no indicator of future blah blah blah). If the law student knows this, then so too does the law firm. Law firms are very aware of how their NALP form looks to students. If other firms—their competitors in the local market—have 100% return rates, then the firm with a 70% or, God forbid, a 50% return rate will be at a disadvantage in recruiting their choice candidates. So, what are firms to do? Well, they can lie on the self reported NALP report. Or, they can offer everyone who comes to work a job at the summer’s end.

As for lying. I have no idea if firms lie on these NALP forms, but I can tell you that this would be dangerous (besides unethical, of course) if recruiting from the top schools. Why? Well, the students who do not receive an offer talk. They not only talk to other students, but they talk to the Career Center. The student becomes the Career Center’s problem, and they Career Center might inquire as to why the student did not receive an offer. Too many time of this happening, and the word is out about this firm. Of course, the Career Center folks look at these NALP forms, and will spot any discrepancies.

Most firms are becoming afraid to not give offers. If they have to take on a poor performer, or more associates than are needed, it might be worth the cost in order not to shut off future candidates from choosing the firm in subsequent years. Sure, even a 50% return rate firm will be able to fill its summer class up, but it may have to look further down the line of desirable candidates. Because the best candidates will have several firms to chose from, they will pick high return rate firms, whereas recruits that don’t have many options will take a shot at a lower return rate firm—these students without options are usually lower on the pecking order.

Of course, this could be all a bunch of horseshit.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Eh, who knows, I doubt anyone stops by anymore, and why would you? For a few months, my blog was nothing more than a bunch of date strings across the entire blog. This was done in haste. The reason: I was out with some of my fellow Summers at a firm function, and one of the Summers started talking about my blog (I never told this Summer about my blog, but this Summer knew of it before our stint at the firm together). Anyway, the Summer was saying things in front of the recruiter, and I thought it might be best to suspend operations until my offer was secured. I don’t think there is anything too egregious on this blog, but why take the chance?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Journal of Sweet Stuff now open for business.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tragedy of the "free internet" Commons

The tragedy of the commons is nowhere more apparent than one of the local coffee shops with free internet access.  Some days you go, and the connection is flying fast, and other days you go and it is crawling.  Some days, several people cannot even get a connection.  I like watching those people constantly right-clicking on their little network wifi icons, desperately trying to grab the brass ring.  Of course, some days that’s me, and I do not like it.

Now, some economists would argue that this is wasteful.  Clearly there are some of us who would happily pay $1 to be on the network while others might not.  Of course, the $1 might be $2 or $3 or $6 or whatever it takes to get the “right” amount of users off of the network, so those that value it more can use it with a at an optimum level.

Sounds right to me.  However, this forgets the marketing aspect.  “Free Wireless Internet” signs attract more people (especially in a college town).  The coffee shop probably isn’t too concerned with the quality of the service at peak hours.*  It just wants the people in the door.  It does offer free internet after all.  Well, how about working that $1 charge into the product price then?  This is a classic argument.  The users can still have “free” internet, but just charge a little more for each coffee.  Clearly, as it is now the internet isn’t really free.  The “free” internet is already in the price of each cup of coffee.  Why not simply increase the cost to deter those who do not value the free internet as much as the others.  Oh my, this is a problem now… Not everyone who comes cares about the internet at all.  Why should they pay more? [See moral hazard]  Also, what about peak hour versus off-peak prices?  No need to deter internet freeloaders when the use is already low.  If you deter them all the time, then you never get their money for coffee even when you would gladly give them free internet.  No, you couldn’t always have higher prices.  And what about people who buy no coffee to begin with, but use the internet anyway?  Enforcement costs! And on and on it goes…

Solution?  I don’t know… I guess you could disconnect the use from the coffee prices in the first place.  I see a 3rd party who gets revenue from the internet use (advertising perhaps).  If a 3rd party wanted as many eyes logged on to the network, they would be benefited by increasing the bandwidth in the coffee shop.  The coffee shop could advertise free internet, and the internet provider could charge advertisers for the eyes of those surfing for free.  Who knows… I have so much work to do, and I am wasting my time with this crap.

This is why I stopped posting.

*[There is a whole other line of argument that they should care, but for now, I will assume that away as so many economists are apt to do—Additionally, one can argue that, no, the marketing aspect means it isn’t a tragedy of the commons as the aim is not use of the network at all (as is the case with roads and beaches) but marketing period.  I agree, but that is dull and too easy.]  

Friday, April 07, 2006

Breaking the Silence

Well, it has been quite a while since I last posted. I do not know how long it will be before I post again. I just wanted to put some thoughts down to let “all the rest of you” out there know how I see it from where I sit. Here’s what you should know: No matter how hard some of you try, you are closed off from some initial opportunities. That is not to say you are precluded from future endeavors, but getting that initial jump will not be easy. Two things transpired this week that solidifies what we always thought, but couldn’t know for sure… Federal Judges:
The Federal Circuit judges who came to speak with us this week had a few choice words to say. I really did appreciate their candor, and I in no way want to be disparaging—I just want to make sure that all those students at some other schools know that when their Harvard and Yale professors tell them that they can go anywhere they want so long as they just work hard enough, well… let’s just say, sure, there is always that one exception to the rule. Judge1: When I get the 400 or so applications for clerkships I make a few piles. The first pile is from students at <8 of the Top 10 Law Schools>. I pick from that pile first. If I cannot find a clerk from that pile, I move on to the next piles. I’ve never moved on to those next piles. Judge2: I hired two students from <Not Top 10 Law School> add <Another Not Top Ten Law School>. I will not make that mistake ever again.
And, in my seminar course, when I questioned why everyone in the class seemed to have such disdain for the job state appellate courts do, this was the reply:
Come on. You know who screens most of these cases and makes recommendations to the judges, right? Clerks. And, come on, who takes a state court clerkship? Students from lesser law schools.
So, soldier on. But, when your professors tell you that you maybe don’t have a job because you aren’t trying hard enough… what they really mean might be: well, not that job, you silly.

Friday, December 16, 2005

What to do...

I have a few days to decide whether or not to take my Crim Law exam for a grade or pass/fail.  I am in the class with all 1Ls.  I don’t know if I have the nerve.  I thought I’d know what to do after my first few exams were done.  But I feel like I tanked them.  Of course, the eternal optimist that I am, I feel like I tank every exam.  What to do, what to do?  It isn’t hard, Crim Law.  Make a list of the crimes, the defenses, the splits in the common law, what the MPC does.  But the cases.  I am terrible at case recall.  I remember the cases in much more abstract ways.  I think Con Law is the only place names really matter.  Other law is much more fluid (I know, I know, it is ALL Con Law, but you know what I mean).

My first two exams were both essay/multiple choice.  I HATE multiple choice law exams.  Hate them!  Crim is 100%, pure, uncut, essay.  No room to knock it out of the ballpark with multiple choice. Grrr.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Rant 1

The law school rant in several acts. It seems that some students are getting a little gnarly out there in law school land with exams coming up. They are complaining about law school sucking, and “what’s the point?”, and “screw this”, and “screw that.” Well, let me write on the other side of the argument, if I may? Let’s start with law review. There seems to be quite a bit of consternation over getting onto law review, and all the benefits that come with being “in da club.” But, really, law review is a very accurate measure of the type of lawyer and lawyerly life you are going to live. Look, how do you expect to make it in the world if you don’t know whether the comma in between “see, e.g.” should be italicized or not? I mean, this is truly important stuff. Some might argue that this is just a bunch of hooey, perpetuated by a bunch of self-important pinheads, destined to be academics, with lots of time to waste giving a crap about this stuff—well, if that’s you, you're just plain missing the point. I mean, if you don’t have the citation in small caps where small caps is needed, and if you underline an article title when maybe you shouldn’t have (at least according to the fine Bluebook folks), how do you expect to communicate effectively with people? Much less, how do you expect anything you write to hold any weight at all? I mean, when I see a period or comma outside of a quotation mark, when it should be within, well, I’m sure you agree that the author has lost all credibility with anyone worth their salt. Should we look to the content and ideas trying to be expressed, and consider the message in the work over the form? No way! That’s crazy talk. If a parenthesis is misplaced, I just start to wander. I no longer have any idea what this person is talking about, and I’m disappointed that I even started reading the piece in the first place. Who can keep you safe from this? The folks on law review. That’s who! So law review people get an office, and soda, and better jobs. And sure, they can share great outlines to maintain their superior class ranking. But why shouldn’t this attention to tedious, manufactured, arbitrary detail be rewarded? This is truly important, meaningful, and vastly rewarding work. Don’t go all “sour grapes” about it. You just don’t understand how crucial getting every sentence and citation perfectly spaced from the next one is in the grand scheme of life. I mean, how could you understand? You aren’t on law review.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Today ends my first semester of classes at my new law school.  I have lots of studying to do.  My laptop has been a flop ever since I purchased it, but these last few weeks have been pretty rough.  So, my level of stress has been tweaked slightly to the up end of the scale.  I am struggling with whether to take one of my exams pass/fail instead of graded.  I thought I’d tough it out, but the prof seems pretty bent on case citations.  I blow at case citations.  I’m going to stick with:  “the case where the guy kills some guy for making fun of his nose” (which, for some reason did not reappear in our insanity chapters).  Is this any more valid than saying “the Smith case”?  I mean, a history major shouldn’t care as much about the exact year the Pilgrims came to America – just that they came and for particular reasons.  I liken remembering case names to rote memorization of useless facts.  Like, how important is it for me to know then name of that one case where Adams tried to give that commission to some judge and Jefferson wouldn’t finish the job, and then the would-be-judge sued the Secretary of State and then the Chief Justice like said the Supreme Court had the power of judicial review.  Mar-something v. Mad-someone. Yeah, that one.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating:  If you plan to practice law in Florida, you should be reading Abstract Appeal.  It is great.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Soda SOL

I was curious as to what the statute of limitations on refilling soda might be?  I go to the student union almost everyday and get a large soda from Subway.  The price is inflated -- $2.11 for a 32oz soda.  However, it is refillable.  Is there a time limitation as to how long one can refill?  A distance limit?

Some considerations:

     Is it strictly a time thing?  Meaning, if the union is open for 14 hours a day, are you free to refill for the entire 14 hours.  I think it is a given that once the place closes, the privilege to refill runs out (this leaves open the 24 hour places, but I would also state that going home also runs the privilege out).  It used to be as long as the cup could still hold liquid (those paper-wax-covered cups would die after several hours), however the cup I buy is plastic, and could last for the next 2 years of my time here.

       Is it based on proximity to the soda machine.  I think this can’t be the case.  The reason being:  the bathrooms are not in the food court.  This was the same for Miami as it is at Michigan.  In both places, you must leave the confines of the eating area to use the facilities.  At Miami, you actually had to walk outside.  So, if your proximity were the test, should you buy a cup and need to go to the bathroom, you would lose the privilege to refill far too soon.

     JD says it isn’t time nor proximity. She holds that it is the duration of the meal which governs the refill statute of limitation.  And, she contends that I abuse the system.  I say “hogwash”, because what if there is no meal?  What if you just buy a drink?  Then what governs the proper time to refill?

     Perhaps it should be a limit on the number of refills.  This seems like the best solution.  There could be a chart.  A penny to ounce formula of some kind.  $2.11 might buy 3 fills.  A potential 96oz of soda.  Should you choose to use ice, well, that is a fringe benefit you pay for in reduced soda ounces.


Term of the month:  “Race to the bottom.”  I have heard this from several different people relating to several different topics.