Which offer to accept? 10 things you should think about

Books 2

You've aced the OCIs. You've convinced multiple firms that you're the one for them, and you're now in the enviable position of juggling offers for that coveted summer associate position. Now time to choose the firm that is actually right for you...


  1. You have 28 days from the date of the offer letter to decide whether to accept or not, assuming the firm is a NALP member. Once you've made your decision, let firms know and don't wait until day 28 just for the sake of it. (Read NALP's General Standards for different timeframes depending on circumstances.)

  2. Speak to current and former lawyers at each firm, though bear in mind that experiences of the same firm can vary dramatically and things may be different when you (hopefully) join as an associate in two years' time. Many firms are happy for you to revisit them during the offer period and some may even invite you to dinner (go if you can).

  3. Focus on the work. What is each firm's core business? Which practices have been expanding/contracting? How will work be allocated? Will you rotate through practice areas as a junior associate or stay in just one? If you don't know or care what work you'll do, try to keep it broad – choose a firm that will keep doors open.

  4. When assessing culture you must consider tangibles rather than clichéd anecdotes. Is compensation mainly lockstep or eat-what-you-kill? Is assignment allocation formal or free market? How diverse is the firm's leadership? How has the firm performed financially over the past five years? How many partners have left recently and from what practice areas? Who has joined, where and why?

  5. Be honest with yourself about your personality and genuine interestsWhat vibe did you get with your interviewers during OCIs and the callback interviews? Who did you really click with? Would you rather work downtown or in the financial district? Do you value an overseas empire or close ties to the region?

    “Select a good initial experience. Get the best training possible. Those first few years of training and legal practice are more important than people realize. If you have a clear sense that you want to be a tax, corporate, litigation or administrative lawyer, then go to a law firm that will give you a well-rounded experience in that area. If you don't know what area you're interested in, go to the best law firm you can get into and learn how to become a general lawyer, while you figure out what your passion is.” – Rudy Giuliani, Bracewell & Giuliani

  6. Think about what makes you happy. Look at vacation policy, whether you get your own office or not, if there's an on site gym, lavish IT budget, flexible working arrangements, caregiver policies...

  7. If diversity or pro bono are important to you, examine firms' stats and policies to see which do the most and which merely pay lip-service.

  8. It's never too soon to think about exit options. What are firms' attrition rates? Where do departing associates move to next? How much is the firm worth on your resume? If you think you might want to join private equity, or government, or a corporation in a few years then join the firm that excels most at what you want to do.

  9. Decline offers as soon as you can, thanking each firm for its time. This could be the person you receive the offer letter from, the interviewer or recruiting director. We'd advise that after phoning it's best to send a short follow-up email too. Try to speak to the person and don't just leave a voicemail. Your paths may cross again in future, so leave a good impression.

  10. Find out about the day-to-day structure of the summer program, like whether you can spend time abroad, whether you'll encounter many or fewer types of work, and what social activities are offered. If you still can't tell the firms themselves apart after thinking about the points above, just pick the one with the most exciting summer program...