College of Law

Offers and Decisions


After receiving an offer from an employer in which you are truly interested, express your appreciation for the offer and your eagerness to work for the company or firm.  Then you may want to ask for a specific amount of time to consider the offer.  When an employer has offered you a position and is waiting for your decision, you must follow through on your promise to communicate your decision by the promised date. 

If the firm you have received an offer from is a member of NALP (generally larger firms and public interest organizations), there are specific guidelines the employer and students are expected to follow, please refer to the guidelines in Part V: General Standards for the Timing of Offers and Decisions.  A complete copy of the Principles and Standards  that applies to law students and NALP-registered employers is available on the NALP website.  Check the NALP Directory of Legal Employers for employer membership, salary information, billable expectations, and other information.


Take the necessary time to carefully analyze the complete job offer package.  Before accepting any job offer, find out everything you can about your proposed role in the company and the responsibilities you will be expected to carry out.  Consider the geographic area and cost of living.  Does the job offer opportunities to expand your skills and knowledge?  Does the organization support career growth and advancement?  Other issues to be considered are: 

  • Relocation requirements
  • Criteria for successful job performance
  • Performance evaluation procedures
  • Salary increases/advancement
  • Reputation and stability of the firm
  • Training and management development offered to entry-level staff

There may be times when you receive an offer for a position, but are still exploring options with other employers.  In these situations, you may have to make a decision on the offer at hand before you feel ready.   It is better to ask for advice from the OPD before making a decision, rather than accepting or rejecting an offer you are not sure of without determining if there is information available that may allow you to make a more informed decision. 


Salary discussion is usually initiated by the employer, typically when a job offer is being made.  The time to negotiate is after you receive a firm offer.  Be prepared to give a salary range which represents a realistic salary for the type of employer in the geographic area in which you will be employed.  For some types of jobs or employers, the salary may not be negotiable.  Some government, judicial clerkship, and other public service positions fall into this category.

For more details on what an appropriate salary range might be for a particular position or information on negotiations generally, please contact OPD staff.  The OPD has resources available for you to review that detail entry-level salaries for legal positions across the country. 

If an organization is a member of NALP, they may include salary information in their profile in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers.

Additionally, fringe benefits, listed below, can add significant value to the base salary:

  • Health, life, dental, vision and prescription insurance
  • Vacation/ sick time
  • Retirement savings plans and stock options
  • Bonus/ commission formulas
  • Tuition/ loan repayment
  • Bar examination fees and bar study course reimbursement
  • Payment of attorney registration/ licensure
  • Reimbursement for continuing legal education costs (if required by your state)
  • Payment of membership dues to professional organizations

Many organizations have little salary flexibility at the entry level job position, but there may be room for negotiation if the proposed salary is less than your research indicates the industry standard to be. When negotiating a higher salary, be prepared to prove the following:

  • Your understanding of the regional salary range based on your research.
  • The qualities that make you worth more than the proposed salary.

Legal salary resources:

NALP Jobs & JDs Report (see OPD for most current edition - entry-level salary information by job type and location)

NALP Press Release on: 2018 Public Service Attorney Salary Survey


After evaluating the offer, it is appropriate to first accept the position by telephone.  A brief letter formally accepting the position should follow.  Employers may also request that you sign and return a copy of a formal offer letter.  Confirm the terms and conditions of the position, title, salary, benefits, starting date and any other pertinent information in writing, and do not forget to express your enthusiasm about your new position.  The employer will expect you to honor any commitments you make.

After accepting an offer, if you know you are still being considered for other interviews or positions, inform those employers that you have accepted another position and would like to withdraw your application from consideration.

If you will be resigning a position to accept this offer, make sure to get the offer in writing before doing so.  The written offer is your assurance of the employer’s genuine intention to hire you. 

Declining an offer must be handled in the same manner.  Use a phone call to convey your decision to the employer in a professional, timely manner and follow-up with a letter.

Last Updated: 6/27/22