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August 13, 2009

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Jeff Yates

Dan, I would agree that the move seems a bit heavy handed in response to a cancellation. I could be remembering things wrong, but I recall firms canceling all the time at my law school. This said, two things: first, I don't know all of the facts concerning this decision by Fordham - even if we have the boilerplate facts, there are sometimes aspects of tone and *how* things were handled (e.g. language used, context, etc.) that we can't appreciate fully as outsiders to the interactions - so, I will just say that my feeling that it's heavy handed is without full information. Second, I can imagine situations in which I would think that it is appropriate for a school to "ban" a firm from OCI for poor conduct, the market notwithstanding.

Tim Zinnecker

I'm guessing Dean Treanor got his nose bent out of joint because he viewed his law school as on par or better than the schools where the firm honored its recruitment commitments. Dean Treanor's response is small-minded and short-sighted. In the long run, he is only hurting the Fordham students who, in this market, need every possible opportunity at gainful employment. Very petty indeed.

If either party was "unprofessional" in these dealings, it wasn't the law firm.

Don Anon

It's pretty disheartening to read two law professors' cheering on the law firm's conduct (breaking its promise) because, you know, "this is a business." Actually, it's worse than disheartening. Law is also a profession, and I would have hoped that legal academics, of all people, would at least *try* to uphold some belief that professional values still matter in the law.

In any event, I can't imagine making a blanket statement about Dean Treanor's conduct without knowing what was communicated by the firm to Fordham. If Treanor's account is to be believed, this wasn't a knee-jerk reaction, but the product of justified outrage at the firm's course of conduct at Fordham. Given that there have been rumors of firms' playing fast and loose with the usual interview-season rules this year because they think they can get away with it (e.g., violating the NALP guidelines and giving exploding offers after callback interviews), I'm inclined to believe that the "petty" conduct was on the part of Reed Smith and not Fordham.

By the way, have Profs. Filler or Zinnecker considered how many Fordham students typically summer at Reed Smith? Perhaps Fordham's sanction has a negative impact limited to a small number of students who would have landed at Reed Smith over the next few years. But, if the Dean's action has the intended effect, it might have a significant positive overall impact on all students by discouraging similar conduct by other law firms.

Tim Zinnecker

Don Anon: thank you for your comment. I do not know all of the facts (and certainly not the tone) of the communications between Dean Treanor and Reed Smith. Upon reflection, I find my remarks were ill-phrased and rest on conjecture, and I apologize for them and for second-guessing Dean Treanor's actions.

Nevertheless, I didn't intend for my remarks to be deemed "cheering on the law firm's conduct." The point I wanted to make was that I hope what has transpired will not have a negative effect on the employment opportunities that Fordham students may otherwise have had with the firm in this or future years. Perhaps you're right and all of this "might have a significant positive overall impact."

Dan Filler

Don, I don't disagree that professional values matter in law. But I see a very big difference between, say, the responsibility to provide pro bono services and the decision of an LLP to cancel its interview slate. And let's be candid: law schools like Fordham have benefited greatly from the profession's move to a large business model. Not only has this move produced lots of jobs for recent grads. It has also created a world where the formerly close-minded top firms are now open to hiring from schools that are not super-elites.

anon

I'm not sure either Tim or Dan has much to apologize for. True, we don't know if Reed Smith has been pulling other tricks, but that is because Dean Treanor cited only one instance of supposedly unprofessional conduct: "The firm could have made its decision earlier." Canceling late doesn't speak very well of Reed Smith; but it seems less "unprofessional" than showing up when there are no jobs available. And compared to precisely the other rumored transgressions (e.g. exploding offers), it seems quite minor to spark such a reaction.

On the other side, this decision is almost certainly counter-productive for Fordham's students. The worst hiring environment in a generation is not the time for a middle tier school to ban a large firm. This is like a geek asking the prettiest cheerleader on a date, having her cancel at the last minute, and then sending her a nasty letter saying: "well, if you change your mind, I don't want to date you anyway!" Actually, it is worse than that, since Dean Treanor gets to nurse his wounded pride, when it is the students that suffer.

Rick Bales

Let's not forget that law schools frequently interview at AALS despite having no job openings. Sometimes the schools disclose this to candidates up front, but not always.

Dan

You can't tell me the firm couldn't figure out they were not coming two weeks or a month earlier. Lazy! Or indecisive! They screwed up, screwed the students, and now will pay the price. No pity for the self-inflicted.

Chris

It was not the pulling out; but rather the timing. By the way, the school's 30th place ranking in US News is misleading: Fordham is ranked 7th in placing students at the top 25 law firms, and the school has tons of alumni at all big NYC firms.

I am, however, biased as I am a Fordham Law alum (and think the world of Dean Treanor).

-Chris

FLS Alum

Kudos to Dean Treanor for taking a stand on behalf of his students, in the face of less than professional behavior by the firm. Given the current economic climate, the firm had to know the approximate size of its 2010 summer program long before it cancelled its EIW schedule. If it decided last minute not to have a summer program at all, different story, but that was not the case here. After Fordham’s Career Planning office went to the trouble of arranging a schedule of interviews for the firm - the students in those slots unable to have other interviews at the same time (opportunity cost) - at the last minute, Reed Smith basically said, “sorry Fordham Law, you’re no longer on our list of potential suitors.”

If Dean Treanor does nothing, what’s to keep other firms from doing the same? The work that goes into arranging the EIW schedules is not insignificant. If the firm had no intention of hiring any Fordham students, it was unfortunately its tough luck once the schedules were set. Reed Smith made a commitment, it should have kept it. So the students would have had practice interviewing (always useful), and the firm would have kept its word and saved face (also good.) Some folks find it easy to break commitments with those they think, for whatever reason, don’t matter. They don’t hold themselves accountable and are not worried anyone else will. Dean Treanor is holding Reed Smith accountable for its rudeness to his students and the Fordham Law community in general. Bravo!

Bloggers are fungible.

I went to Fordham. Don't call me fungible you dick.

..........

You know who is "fungible"? A professor at DREXEL University.

Your analysis on a school-wide basis is just stupid. As your article states, law firms are businesses, not ivory-tower academic institutions, and thus look at grades and personality a lot more than just the name on the diploma.

Of course your failings in the business world would have precluded you from analyzing the issue from that angle.

Jim Beam

As others above have aptly pointed out, the Dean's course of action will only hurt Fordham students going forward. It may have been a situation where Reed Smith had to cancel at some schools this year, but anticipated returning to those schools in future years when their financial picture improved.

When you are the dean of a reputable law school, your first duty is to your students. Although you may feel that you have been slighted, and you may have suffered a blow to your institutional (and therefore personal) pride, you - as a dean - should not let that dictate your course of action.

Finally, this is Fordham. It is not Harvard. It is not Columbia. Its not Chicago. Its not even Georgetown. Its Fordham. I'm sure Reed Smith is so stung.

Drexel 3L

To the two who decided to attack Dan Filler rather than addressing the idea-

Frankly, all law students are fungible. I am fungible. I know this.

Say HLS banned RS from oci. you think RS would be stung, or would they just hire more YLS grads?

And if YLS banned them, well, maybe they'd pick up more Stanford or Penn grads, etc.

They don't really care what schools they get people from so long at they have enough t14 grads to justify their exorbitant rates.

This will onyl hurt fordham. It forecloses the possibility of the school's students from landing OCI jobs at RS. It is stupid and terribly short sighted, all for the sake of pride.

Paraphasing Pulp Fiction:
RS may have caused you to feel a slight sting. That's pride messing with you. Forget pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.


Do you know who else are fungible? Anonymous posters on Blawgs.

/argument.


Chris

Drexel 3L,

I understand the point you are trying to make in your comment about all law students being fungible; but I do not interpret Professor Filler's comment to mean the same thing. He says, "Fordham grads, while excellent, are also highly fungible." This implies Fordham grads are HIGHLY fungible because they are from Fordham; otherwise the point would have been made differently — e.g., all law schools (or students) are fungible. Moreover, he used the modifier "highly."

And it should not be about school versus school; it should be about students (future associates). I would take a student from Fordham Law (or Drexel) in the top 1 or 2 % over a middle of the class Yale Law grad every time.

And OCI is not the end all. I for one obtained many interviews (including the interview that led to my current job at a top firm) by applying directly — sans OCI.

But we lose sight of Treanor's principles: It is forgivable to pull out — this is a business after all. But to fail to inform the school until the last minute shows a lack of respect and, more importantly, professionalism.

In the end, it is a value judgment, and not so cut and dry and some try to make it out.

But I am with the Dean on this one.

MS

I still do not understand the comment "middle Tier" Fordham is a Tier 1, top 30 (as high as 25, two years ago and only moved down due to a technicality). Further as already stated it is in the top 7 for top law firm placements. Go to ANY large firm and search Fordham and many lawyers can be found. Look at Drexel...anyone find someone yet?

FUNgible

People who went to Fordham seem to suffer from terrible self-esteem problems. This might be why Reed Smith decided not to interview there.

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