A Law Firm’s Guide to Navigating Call-Back Logistics

Published: Jun 18, 2018

Topics: Law       

By Jenny Connelly, National Legal Recruiting Director, and Kelly Morgan, Legal Recruiting Manager

Congrats! You have made it through the on-campus interview (OCI) process and are now receiving call-back invitations. As if OCI wasn’t tough enough, call-back interviews can raise a lot of tough questions about proper protocol. Below are some insights and tips regarding the process and expectations from a firm’s perspective. And rest assured, Legal Recruiting is here to assist you throughout!

Pick A Firm, Any Firm!

First and foremost, if you are interviewing with multiple firms in a particular city, choose one to be your “host.” This firm will incur the costs of your flight, hotel, and related expenses such as meals while you are in town for your interviews. Try to visit each city in one trip, even if that means revising travel plans; this will still be the most cost-effective approach, but it will also be easier on you than making multiple trips. Reach out to your Legal Recruiting contacts at your host firm in each city to discuss best practices for your interviews. Each firm has its own protocols, so make sure you understand their processes and guidelines before making your arrangements.  

Start filling out the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) reimbursement form as you make your arrangements; you will need to submit this form after your call-back trip, and, if you fill it out as you connect with the Legal Recruiting teams and book your trips, you’ll have less information to compile later. The form requests contact information for each firm you visit, so be sure to obtain the name and email address of the team member who handles the reimbursements at each.

So What’s Reimbursable?

The big question here is: “What, exactly, is reimbursable from a call-back trip?” Some of you have worked in different fields before law school and have become accustomed to particular reimbursement policies, and law firms generally say that they’ll cover “reasonable expenses,” which can understandably leave candidates confused. So, what constitutes a reasonable expense by law firm standards? Well, a meal that you would be willing to pay for; cabs/Ubers you took to and from interviews; parking; internet at the hotel, if that was an extra expense; Wi-Fi on the plane, and most baggage fees to name a few. Expenses that are generally not reimbursed include: dry cleaning; in-room movies; alcoholic drinks not associated with a meal, and very expensive meals, particularly if it is obvious someone else was with you, and yet you are asking for full reimbursement of the bill. Don’t send your host firm every expense you incurred, assuming that the Legal Recruiting team will filter out the non-reimbursable expenses -– that isn’t how it works, and seeking reimbursement for excessive expenses can reflect poorly on your judgment. A good rule of thumb: if you hesitate to submit a receipt, you probably shouldn’t. However, you are welcome to reach out to Legal Recruiting or your career services office for guidance.

Getting Reimbursed

After your call-backs are complete, send the NALP reimbursement form and all of your itemized receipts (so, please keep them!) to the host firm, which will then issue you a check covering any expenses they did not cover up front. List all the firms you visited along with the Legal Recruiting contacts during your trip and include all expenses, even those the host firm already paid. Scan all receipts and the NALP expense form into a PDF and email it to the host firm (as opposed to sending it by snail mail), so you’re reimbursed as quickly as possible. The host firm’s Legal Recruiting team will seek reimbursement from the other firms with whom you interviewed on your trip, so that each firm will equally contribute equally to the full cost. You don’t need to try to divide the costs yourself; just send everything along to your host firm, and we’ll take it from there!

Communication Is Key!

Respond to call-back invitations in a timely manner. Barring extenuating circumstances, we expect that you’ll respond to any messages from the firm within 24 hours. For those fortunate enough to receive a lot of call-back invitations, make it a priority to respond to each firm offering you the opportunity. Even if you haven’t yet decided whether or not to accept the call-back, let the firm know you have received the invitation and will get back to them as soon as you can. If you’re declining an invitation, or just not ready to schedule a call-back with a firm, be upfront. The firm will appreciate your honesty and professionalism. Please note that there is nothing wrong with cancelling or rescheduling a callback. We recognize that things can change quickly during the call-back process. If you know you wouldn’t accept an offer with the firm, you don’t have go through with the interview, even if it is the next day; this will free up the lawyers who were going to interview you to spend time with another candidate or on client matters. If you do cancel or reschedule, follow up with your host firm about cancelling or revising your travel plans, as well.

Keep us informed about your plans and status throughout. If your flight is delayed, your power went out and your alarm clock failed, or a family emergency arises, we are here to help! Legal Recruiting regularly receives calls about issues that are out of your control, and we want to make this busy time easier for you. We know travel plans have a way of complicating things, so keep us posted and we can help you make the most of your trip.

Finally, as you receive offers, keep in touch during the 28-day decision period. Let us know what additional information would help you decide among your offers. If you want to speak to more associates, partners, diverse lawyers, lawyers in particular practice areas, lawyers who’ve clerked, lawyers with young children, lawyers who are veterans, lawyers who have worked at other firms where you’re considering offers –- we want you to be as informed as you need to be in order to feel confident about your ultimate decision. And when you decide to accept an offer, don’t “ghost” on the other firms; the legal community is small, and your professionalism at this stage can leave doors open down the road. Take the time to call the firms you’re declining and be willing to have a conversation with them about your decision.

Wishing you luck this recruiting season!

This is a sponsored blog post from Sidley Austin LLP. You can view Sidley's Vault profile here.


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