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Accepting/Declining Offers

You got the job! What happens now?

Acknowledge the Offer

  • If you received the offer in person or by phone, ideally you thanked the employer for the opportunity and inquired how long you would have to consider the offer.
  • If you received the offer by email, voicemail, or regular mail, you should call the employer back within 24 hours to acknowledge receipt of the offer, even if you are not ready to accept the offer. When you call, thank the employer for the offer and inquire how long the employer is able to give you to accept. If you have a sense of when you will be able to provide a decision, communicate that to the employer. Keep your request for a decision period reasonable, as asking for too long will suggest a lack of interest in the position.

Evaluate the Offer(s) By Asking Yourself the Following Questions

  • What will I learn and do? What skills will I be able to utilize, and what new skills will I gain?
  • How close does the job come to the characteristics of my ideal job?If it is a summer job, what is the chance of a permanent position? If the job is not likely to lead to a permanent position, will it enhance my resume for future job searches?
  • How do I feel about this? Is the job right for me, or am I picking it because my parents, friends, or others want me to?What is the compensation? For permanent positions, is there an opportunity to negotiate the salary?
  • Are there other questions I have? Can I get them answered or do I have to accept some inherent uncertainty?

Accept or Decline The Offer

  • If you choose to accept a position, phone the person who extended you the offer. If you leave a voicemail, be sure to follow up to ensure that your message was received. When accepting an offer by phone, you may with to follow up with an email or letter to memorialize the conversation.
  • If you choose to decline an offer, you should do so as quickly possible, so that your fellow students may benefit from the “rolling offers.” This should be done tactfully, both for your own sake and for the reputation of the Cornell Law School. Your letter should express your appreciation of the offer and your high regard for the employer, indicating that it was difficult to make the final decision. Do not burn any bridges. You may want to reapply to this employer sometime in the future. 
  • Sample letter to decline an offer: "It is with regret that I write this letter to inform you that I will not be able to accept your offer of employment for the upcoming summer. I have been fortunate to receive a number of offers and, only after considerable thought, have I been able to make a decision on which offer to accept.  I assure you that I have the highest opinion of [employer name], and I hope that our paths may cross again in the future.

If balancing multiple offers from firms during the fall recruiting process:

  • On December 12, 2018, NALP eliminated its long-standing guidelines related to the law student recruiting process.  Putting aside questions relating to the correctness of that decision, we consider the timing to be quite unfortunate, coming as it did only weeks before the beginning of our 2019 recruiting registration process.  Therefore, we have decided to adopt the NALP guidelines as they existed immediately prior to their elimination as our own, and to keep them in place for the 2019 recruiting season. This decision was based on two important factors – our desire for our employers to be fully aware of our policies as they begin the 2019 registration process, and our desire to dedicate sufficient time to a full analysis of those policies and what changes, if any, may be needed in the future. In-depth discussions with our employer colleagues will play a large part in that analysis, and we do not feel that adequate time remains for us to fully and effectively undertake those efforts this season.  

The full text of these adopted guidelines may be found here…