As you know, the Law Society Guidelines for graduate recruitment have been in place for some time as a way of providing some certainty to students about the recruitment process, and to ensure students can consider all of the options available to them when considering offers.
Earlier this year, several firms indicated they were opting out of the Law Society guidelines in favour of a priority offer system to seasonal clerks. Until yesterday, we understood the remaining top tier firms, Allens, Mallesons and Freehills, were, like us adhering to the Law Society Guidelines. Last night we received communication from Freehills that they have decided to opt out of the Law Society Guidelines this year in favour of a priority offer system. Earlier today, we received a similar notification from Allens and Mallesons. This means we would be the only major firm adhering to the Law Society Guidelines.
[Clayton Utz opted out a week earlier.]
Unfortunately the system prescribed by the Law Society Guidelines only protects the interests of students where a number of large firms adhere to those guidelines and offers are made by firms on the same day or at least in a similar time frame.
A number of applicants have advised us that they have already received offers from other law firms. We have also been advised that many of these firms are not keeping their offers open until 9 September 2009 and are encouraging students to either accept or decline offers within a week or a shorter time frame. If we adhere to the Law Society Guidelines, we would not be able to commence interviewing applicants until 17 August or make an offer until 9 September. For most applicants, this is now too late as they will have to make a decision on priority offers that will expire well in advance of 9 September.
Regrettably, in the circumstances, it no longer makes sense for Blake Dawson to continue to adhere to guidelines that no other major firms are adhering to. We will now be making offers over the next week to enable applicants to make an informed decision in relation to any offers they receive.
We also encourage you to be patient and contact us in the interim to let us know whether you have received an offer so we can advise you of your prospects with Blake Dawson.
We sincerely apologise for the way events have unfolded this year with the graduate recruitment process. We too are disappointed that the system has broken down this year.