NALP Rules for 1L Job Applications: Comment on a thread

From a thread...So I understand that we cannot contact firms for 1L SA until Dec 1, and I can't talk to my school career service people until Nov 1. I have no problem with that. 
What are about firms or small offices that aren't listed on NALP? Are they associated with NALP? And can I contact them? I just want to know if they are willing to take on 1Ls for summer internship, and really don't want to get into trouble.
Part V: General Standards for the Timing of Offers and Decisions

D. Summer Employment Provisions for First Year Students

  1. Law schools should not offer career services to first-semester first year law students prior to November 1 except in the case of part-time students who may be given assistance in seeking positions during the school term. 
  2. Prospective employers and first year law students should not initiate contact with one another and employers should not interview or make offers to first year students before December 1. 
  3. All offers to first year students for summer employment should remain open for at least two weeks after the date made.
In reply... 
While it is true that the NALP rules need not be followed by non-NALP members, the rules about waiting to contact potential 1L summer employers until after December 1 are set forth by NALP in concert with the accrediting entities (ABA and AALS). Underlying the rule is the general agreement that the primary duty of a 1L is to learn the difference between a contract and a tort (my interpretation of  many complex policy discussions.)

That said, you are not precluded from connecting with the speakers who come to your school during the first semester and the bar association members you meet at their meetings, from re-connecting with the people who were your recommenders, or talking to your friends, neighbors, and friends of your family, who may be lawyers or who may know lawyers and who are eager to help you. You will build your network -- always a good thing.

How is a"connection" not a job application? What can you say or ask?

1. SPEAKERS and BAR ASSOCIATION MEMBERS "Thank you for coming to visit my school. I enjoyed your presentation and would like to ask some follow up questions next week. May I call you to schedule a meeting?" Note that you are looking for information, not asking for a job.

2. BAR ASSOCIATION MEMBERS If you have taken time to go to local bar association meetings or to attend CLE programs, you may follow up with the people you meet. "The CLE was very interesting to me as I am beginning to explore the [practice]. May I call you to schedule a short meeting?" Note that you are looking for information and not asking for a job.

3. RECOMMENDERS   "Thank you for writing a letter of rec for me. I am here at [law school] and find it (fascinating, frightening, etc.) Can I buy you a cup of coffee to say "thank you" and to ask some questions about my future?" Note that you are saying "thank you" and not asking for a job.

4.  FRIENDS, FAMILY, etc.  This group is the one most likely to ask you for a resume right away. It is difficult to say "no" to your parents, so, quickly, pull up the resume you used for your law school application, add "law school" to the education section, and hand it off to Mom, Dad and your brother-in-law's cousin.

THE ETHICAL LAW STUDENT (YOU) Remind the parents that you are going to be really really busy during the semester. Should they gin up employment opportunities for you before Thanksgiving, you would probably embarrass yourself because someone would remember that you weren't supposed to interview until after December 1, thus making you look like an unethical law student.

LIMITED KNOWLEDGE PITFALLS  In addition, before the end of the semester, your legal knowledge will be limited to the Case of the Thorns and other early-casebook entries, and not fodder for the kind of interview in which you would want to appear to be smart and knowledgeable about the work that the prospective employer would need from you.

WHAT IF SOMEONE OFFERS ME A JOB? If, however, someone who is known to you or someone you meet between now and December 1 offers you a job, you are permitted to accept. What the NALP rules preclude you from doing is launching a Massive Summer Job Search Campaign addressed to strangers before December 1.

Please go back to studying.


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