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July 26, 2010 1:19 PM

Score One for Reason? Jones Day, Northwestern Push Back OCI...Slightly

Posted by Zach Lowe

We're not sure how big of a deal this is yet, but it's worth reporting on quickly: Jones Day and Northwestern University's School of Law have agreed to push back the law firm's on-campus interviewing date from mid-August to mid-September in what both sides are billing as move toward a more reasonable interview schedule. 

Northwestern will keep its general on-campus interviewing date on August 11, right around the time when the bulk of the nation's top law schools invite prospective employers to campus to meet with rising 2Ls. Jones Day will make its own visit on Sept. 13, the firm announced today. Firms for years have complained that the schools' move to push interview dates into August has created a bizarre situation in which firms are, in effect, making hiring decisions two years in advance. The problem, such as there is one, has no obvious solution. Schools prefer to hold interviews when classes aren't in session, while a few critics of the system have proposed holding interviews off until the second semester. The whole thing came to a head in January, when the National Association for Law Placement proposed a system in which schools could keep interviews in August while firms would be banned from making any offers to 2Ls until the following January, as we first reported here

A group of firms rebelled against the proposal. None were louder than Jones Day, which characterized the NALP plan as a possible antitrust violation. NALP ultimately set aside the proposal and instead kept the current system intact, with one change: firms must now hold an offer open for 28 days, down from the previous 45-day rule. 

Jones Day and Northwestern are hailing the one-month delay as a temporary solution to what Northwestern dean David Van Zandt called "the compression of summer associate interviews in August." That system "requires [firms] to make employment decisions and predictions about their hiring needs too far in advance of permanent start dates," Van Zandt said in a statement released today. The system "is also problematic for students," the dean said, because it "constrains their time to make sensible decisions."

Greg Shumaker, firmwide hiring partner at Jones Day, said in a statement that the firm is committed to hiring the same number of Northwestern students as it did in the past.

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