Are You Aware of Employer Hiring Timing & Practices?
Business and corporate legal employers tend to hire on an “as needed” basis, although if you are interested in summering in a corporate legal department, you would want to focus your targeted mailings in the fall and early spring. These employers typically do not participate in on-campus interviewing programs.
Some federal government agencies, particularly those with Honors Programs, recruit each fall for positions beginning the following summer or beyond. Other agencies hire only when vacancies occur so a targeted mailing can be effective for these agencies.
Most state and local agencies hire on an “as needed” basis depending on funding and personnel needs. In Florida, government employers operate on a July 1 fiscal year so typically, more of the public defender and state attorney’s offices participate in spring OCI for anticipated openings after July 1. Students, however, should stay in contact with the judicial circuit offices of interest throughout the year as unanticipated openings can occur anytime. Follow-through and persistence are essential for under-resourced state and local agencies.
The majority of public interest agencies hire on an “as needed” basis when vacancies occur or as new grants are received. Typically they hire first- and second-year law students for the summer on a fellowship or volunteer basis. The agencies are less likely to recruit on campus than hire someone who has worked for them during a summer. A demonstrated prior commitment to public interest and networking is critical to obtaining these positions.
Federal courts under the federal hiring guidelines accept applications for postgraduate judicial clerkships the day after Labor Day of your third year of law school. Typically interviews are conducted and hiring decisions made fairly soon after that time. Florida state courts accept applications for postgraduate judicial clerkships at various times, although many accept them during the spring semester for vacancies the following fall.
Small law firms tend to recruit second year law students in the spring and third year law students in the spring, summer, following admission to the bar, or on an “as needed” basis. They usually do not recruit on campus but expect students to apply directly to them. They often hire students who have been working for them on a parttime basis during the academic year.
Medium-large (50-99 attorneys) and medium (20-50) sized law firms are more challenging to characterize recruiting methods. Those in large cities such as Atlanta or Miami tend to follow large firm practices by hosting a formal summer program, with recruitment exclusively in the fall except for a couple of slots for outstanding 1Ls. Other medium-sized firms are less structured and may recruit in the spring, fall or on an “as needed” basis. Targeted mailings can prove successful for these employers, who are not as likely to visit campus.
Large law firms (100+ attorneys) recruit second- and third-year students almost exclusively in the fall for summer associates through on-campus interviews and targeted mailings. The law firm’s second year summer program typically is used as a mechanism for hiring new permanent associates.