Updated December 2022
The Office of Career Services at Harvard Law School (OCS) has developed the following Policies and Guidelines (Policies) to protect the interests of both students and employers. By recruiting at Harvard Law School (HLS), employers agree to abide by these Policies. OCS may impose sanctions for failure to comply.
HLS has instituted policies and procedures to ensure a safe and non-discriminatory environment and to meet legal requirements. Employers recruiting at HLS must comply with HLS’s non-discrimination policy.
II. Interviewing & Callback Policies
A. Interview and Recruiting Programs Defined
OCS facilitates multiple interview and recruiting programs throughout the year, including the Early Interview Program (EIP), which includes both EIP Preview and EIP Week, the Spring Interview Program (SIP), and resume collection programs (OCS Facilitated Programs). More information may be found on our Employer webpages, including our Early Interview Program overview page.
For certain of the OCS Facilitated Programs, including EIP Week and SIP, OCS assigns interview slots for employers and students (OCS Scheduled Programs).
B. Student Materials Distributed by OCS
OCS collects and distributes students’ resumes and transcripts to employers for OCS Facilitated Programs.
C. Prescreening and Cover Letters Prohibited
Interview slots in OCS Scheduled Programs are assigned at the discretion of HLS. Employers may not request transcripts or information regarding law school grades, or otherwise prescreen students in advance of, or as condition to, granting a student an interview during OCS Scheduled Programs. Similarly, when adding or filling open slots on an HLS interview schedule, employers may not request transcripts or information regarding law school grades.
Employers are not permitted to ask students to submit cover letters for any OCS Facilitated Program.
D. Restrictions on Interviewing Rising 2Ls
Employers participating in EIP may not solicit direct applications from rising 2Ls, such as for early consideration programs outside of Preview; specifically, employers may not ask rising 2L students for transcripts or information regarding law school grades prior to their assigned EIP Week interview date(s). Employers may encourage rising 2Ls (including 1Ls who have previously interviewed) to apply through Preview or EIP.
Employers participating in EIP may not conduct any screening or callback interviews of rising 2Ls either: (a) prior to receiving the student’s application through Preview; or (b) for students who did not apply through Preview, prior to the employer’s assigned EIP interview date(s).
- Employers may conduct interviews, request transcripts, and extend offers to rising 2Ls for a given office (and only that office) prior to the employer’s EIP date if that office location is not participating in EIP. If, however, an employer is conducting multi-office or all office interviews at EIP, the restrictions above apply.
- Employers may conduct interviews, request transcripts, and extend offers to rising 2L students participating in non-HLS organized job fairs.
- Employers may conduct interviews, request transcripts, and extend offers to rising 2L students applying specifically to a firm’s “2L Employer Scholarship/Fellowship Program,” regardless of whether such program include an offer of summer employment. A “2L Employer Scholarship/Fellowship Program” means a program for 2L students that provides a benefit or compensation separate from, or in addition to, compensation provided to a student for summer employment.
Notwithstanding the above, employers may meet with students in the case of: (a) student-initiated requests for informational interviews; and (b) OCS-organized mock interviews. In both cases, however, employers may not request from students any information about law school grades or for transcripts. In addition, because the primary goal of informational and mock interviews is educational, neither informational nor mock interviews shall result in any evaluation of a student’s candidacy for hiring purposes.
In case exigent circumstances require individual exemptions from these Policies and Guidelines, please contact the Assistant Dean for Career Services.
E. Interviewing Time Guidelines
- No Interviewing During Class Times
Employers scheduling interviews directly with students must not schedule interviews at times that conflict with classes. Interviews scheduled by OCS are assigned at times that do not conflict with classes. Similarly, students are not permitted to interview during their scheduled class times.
- Summer Interviews
Employers are strongly encouraged to schedule summer interviews at times that do not conflict with students’ internship and work obligations. Similarly, employers are strongly encouraged to offer interviews via videoconferencing and other technology where possible.
III. Timing of Offers and Decisions
Employers recruiting at HLS agree to the following terms regarding the timing of offers and decisions. This timing applies to all offers made to HLS students, including all offers made pursuant to the EIP interviewing exceptions described in Section II.D.
Note to employers: Our “Student Recruiting and Interviewing Policies” provide that students are permitted to hold open no more than three (3) offers of employment at any one time.
A. 1L Summer Employment
All offers for 1L summer employment must remain open for at least 14 days after the date of the offer letter. OCS strongly discourages any 1L summer employment offer that requires the student to return to the same employer for more than four (4) weeks of their 2L summer or otherwise requires the student to materially limit their 2L summer at another employer as a condition for a 1L summer offer. Any offer that requires such conditions as a prerequisite for a post-graduate offer is also strongly discouraged. Employers must disclose any such conditions to a post-graduate offer to the 1L at the time of the 1L offer.
B. 2L Summer Employment
Offers made for 2Ls summer employment must remain open for 21 days after the date of the offer letter.
- Small Program Exception
If the anticipated size of an employer’s summer program for the office extending the offer is fewer than 15 students, the offer must remain open for 14 days after the date of the offer letter (instead of 21 days) for only that office. Employers should inform OCS in their EIP registration if any of their offices’ summer programs fall under this exception.
For any offer made before the last day of EIP Week, before the offer expires, a student may extend up to two such offers for 14 days after the last day of EIP Week. This applies to all employers, regardless of summer program size. Students must make such requests for extension (a) in writing to the employer’s recruiting director or other designated person, and (b) affirm that they are extending no more than two such offers. The employer must grant such an extension. Except as provided in Section III.D., any other extensions may be granted at the discretion of the employer.
C. Post-Graduate Employment
- For a full-time post-graduate offer made to a student previously hired by that employer:
- If an offer is made on or before September 2 of a student’s final year of law school, the employer must hold that offer open until at least October 1 of the student’s final year of law school.
- If an offer is made after September 2 of a student’s final year of law school, the employer must hold that offer open for at least 28 days after the date of the offer letter.
- For a full-time post-graduate offer made to a student not previously hired by that employer, the employer must leave the offer open for at least 28 days after the date of the offer letter. If such an offer is made after December 15 of the student’s final year of law school, it must remain open for at least 14 days after the date of the offer letter.
Employers may request that students reaffirm interest in their open full-time post-graduate offers within 14 days from the date of the offer letter. Employers that request students to reaffirm their open offers may retract any offer that is not accepted, reaffirmed, or extended within the 14-day period.
D. Public Sector and Non-EIP Employer Extensions
A student may keep one 2L summer employment offer or one full-time post-graduate employment offer open until April 1 if the student: (1) is pursuing public interest or other non-EIP opportunities; (2) notifies the employer in writing before the offer expires; and (3) affirms in writing that the employer’s offer is the only offer that the student is holding open.
IV. Reimbursement of Expenses
Prior to interviews, employers shall inform students of the firm’s reimbursement policy pertaining to interview travel expenses. Employers agree to reimburse students promptly for reasonable travel expenses submitted under their policies.
V. Recruiting 1Ls
A. Guidelines Regarding First Contact with 1Ls
HLS will make the facilities of OCS available to 1Ls beginning October 15. Employers may initiate recruiting contact with 1Ls beginning November 15. Employers may accept formal 1L applications and extend interviews or offers to 1Ls beginning December 1.
B. Class Conflicts and the January Experiential Term
As mentioned above in Section II. E, employers are not permitted to schedule interviews with students at times that conflict with their classes. This policy includes the January Experiential Term for 1Ls, which takes place over three weeks in January (the Winter Term). The January Experiential Term does not have a graded curriculum and is based on participation and class work only. For that reason, missing a class is the equivalent of missing an exam in a fully graded course.
Employers may schedule late afternoon, evening, or weekend interviews if they do not conflict with January Experiential Term requirements, or interview 1Ls after the conclusion of the January Experiential Term (see the Academic Calendar for Winter Term dates).
VI. Employer Events
As an integral part of the recruiting and employment process, individual employer information sessions and networking receptions must comply with HLS’s non-discrimination policies and be open to all students (or students in a class year). Before organizing an event for students, employers must contact OCS to ensure that the proposed date of the event does not conflict with another program. Please see our Hosting an Event or Reception page.
VII. Student Complaints
While most employers strive to maintain a professional and sensitive attitude in recruiting and employment situations, there may be instances of offensive or discriminatory behavior. We encourage students to speak with an OCS adviser or the Assistant Dean for Career Services about any employer behavior that concerns them. If appropriate, OCS will work with the student and the employer to resolve the issue. If the employer has violated the HLS Employer Recruiting Policies, sanctions may be imposed. Potential sanctions include sending a letter of reprimand, barring the employer from using HLS facilities and services for a specified period, or any other sanction deemed appropriate.
Anyone who believes that they have been the victim of sexual or gender-based harassment or discrimination committed by an employer in connection with law school recruitment activities may file a formal or informal complaint.
Procedures for complaints under Title IX may be found in the HLS website under Title IX Policies and Procedures.