FlightoftheEarls wrote:quakeroats wrote:Gideon Strumpet wrote:Rock-N-Roll wrote:You're right. Not a strong point, but if another law school student may have done this then maybe it hints at the behavior not being totally uncommon.
All sorts of stuff could have happened; sudden severe illness; office gets busy and doesn't get around to hiring until the last minute; they get more busy and decide they want a second intern; it's actually unlikely that the opening was caused by someone just randomly backing out to take another job. What's uncommon is for people to commit to summer jobs and then dump them for something else at the last minute . . . mostly because, well, that would be stupid. And it makes you look like a douche to people who will remember this when you're out looking for a real job.
So far, the reasons we have against taking the new job are:
1. It's bad form/rude/you've already made a commitment/this will come back to haunt you/it will hurt your classmates.
2. Interning might be a less enriching experience than working for the AG.
Only make your decision based on #2. Your conduct either way is perfectly lawful and violates no professional or honor-code rules that I've heard of. Have you looked at your school's honor code? If it's anything like mine, there's a lot of detail for just about every situation you could think of... except this one. Declining/rescinding a job offer accepted without a contract creates no liability for either party. I can assure you that it happens frequently enough to be addressed and that you should take omission as tacit approval. While I wouldn't give the AG much more than a vague sense that something's come up (the passive voice is fantastic here), nothing is going to happen to you. They won't call, they won't write, in fact, they won't know anything more than you tell them in a brief call/email that discloses no details. One of the common criticisms of practicing in major jurisdictions is that there are enough attorneys that the one you're currently opposing is unlikely to be someone you'll see again. This creates a few problems, but occasionally something good comes out of it--e.g. the lack of repercussions of your choice.
So because something isn't illegal and doesn't violate a professional honor code, that makes it acceptable? Why don't people rescind on judges for clerkships after they've been offered even though no legal liability arises or honor codes are breached? There are set patterns and practices of professional behavior, and to suggest otherwise simply because it's not illegal is far too short sighted. The entire first half of your post reads like a legal analysis while completely neglecting the reality that the every individual's career is driven by his professional reputation. While it's very possible that those particular bridges may not matter one bit in the future, sticking with the AG will probably provide just as worthwhile of an experience (this coming from somebody who interned for a federal judge last summer) and gets OP off on the right foot of sticking to his word. I don't think anybody is arguing that he can not rescind the acceptance, but only that he should not. Ramble over whether there's liability or an honor code breach all you want - OP's professional reputation matters, and it's time to be a big boy now.
Yes, that makes it acceptable, but not necessarily advisable. The point of an honor code is to delineate acceptable from unacceptable conduct. The same goes for a code of professional responsibility. However, if you have a compulsion to find additional ways to cut against your own interests, feel free. Part of the problem here is that you seem to assume this behavior is rare. For 1L work I'd suggest that it isn't. The process is ad hoc, the work is unpaid, and the students are new. The more formalized the process the more people will feel a sense of duty to honor gratuitous promises. In the case of clerkships, I'd suggest that people probably do rescind their clerkship acceptances if it's in their interest, but (1) they don't talk about it and (2) it's rarely in their interest. As for whether declining the AG position is advisable, there are two concerns: (1) will the internship provide a better experience, (2) will declining the AG hurt the OP's career? If the answer to (1) is no, then by all means take the AG's position. As I've described, there is no almost no way the answer to (2) is yes. Do you know how many lawyers are in California? What percentage work at the AG's office? What fraction of that have any knowledge of the OP? How many resumes do you think they receive? How many interviews do you suspect they conduct? What do you suspect the odds are of remembering someone you interviewed once and never saw again after 5 or 10 years? If the OP does a good job of giving as little information as possible, the AG's office has no way of knowing what actually happened, nor would have they any reason to follow up. People don't have time to track down unpaid interns to find out if they traded up.