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September 24, 2009 4:40 PM

Skadden Offer Day: Did the Risk Pay Off?

Posted by Zach Lowe

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom had people talking last month when the firm announced it would make all of its job offers on one day in late-September, abandoning its usual practice of offering 2Ls summer associate positions on a rolling basis throughout the fall. 

Skadden's recruiters told us the all-in-one-day strategy was in response to law schools pushing up on-campus interviewing to August and early September. Skadden figured if recruitment at the top schools was finished by mid-September, it may as well make its offers as soon as it was over--and make them all at once. The firm set Sept. 22 as "Skadden Offer Day." 

But in this economy, career services personnel and other recruiters wondered whether Skadden was being too patient and stood to lose the best 2Ls to firms who made their offers earlier. Students, they reasoned, would grab the first good offer they got. 

"I might have thought they would lose some people to firms who pushed for responses sooner," says Irene Dorzback, assistant dean of career services at New York University School of Law.

Skadden Offer Day came and went on Tuesday, and the firm says it is happy with the results. In fact, fewer 2Ls than usual turned down Skadden offers because they had already committed to another firm, says Howard Ellin, Skadden's hiring partner.

Was the firm worried its timing would force top 2Ls to turn them down? 

"We definitely thought about that," Ellin says. "We had absolutely no idea which would way it would play." 

But the firm picked Sept. 22 for a reason. Industry guidelines mandate that firms give candidates 45 days to decide whether to accept an offer. For an offer to have expired before Skadden Offer Day, a firm would have had to extend the offer in early August--before on-campus interviewing started at most schools, Ellin says. 

Ellin wouldn't say how many offers Skadden made or how many 2Ls accepted on the spot. The firm has said it plans to reduce next year's summer class by half of its recent classes (which numbered around 225), but will not rescind any offers in order to meet that goal.

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