Waiting for and managing firm offers

LegalJob provided the following response to a recent inquiry: I am down to two firms. I received an offer from one firm almost two weeks ago and they have given me until Friday to respond.

LegalJob provided the following response to a recent inquiry.


Q:  I am down to two firms.  I received an offer from one firm almost two weeks ago and they have given me until Friday to respond.  I have not yet received an offer from the other firm but I think one is coming and I talked to the recruitment coordinator 1.5 weeks ago and she said they were still giving me strong consideration.  I am likely to accept the offer I have already received so not sure what I should do as far as the other firm.


Answer:   There are a lot of variables and several approaches you can take here.  Obviously, it would be ideal to have both offers in hand so you could make your decision with all the information.  Here are three possible approaches:

  1. Be honest.  Tell the second firm you are down to two and the other firm requires a response by Friday.  Consider e-mailing or calling one of the attorneys (as opposed to the recruitment coordinator) that has served as your contact person.  You should mention that you spoke with human resources (and they were helpful, which is a bit of a stretch but probably better not to throw someone under the bus) and that you are contacting that person at this time because you are seriously interested in this firm and you thought it may help move things along if you communicated that directly.  Mention that you understand these decisions can take time but you thought you would reach out to determine whether it was possible to receive any more information before Friday.  One downside of this narrow window is that the firm could get back to you Thursday or Friday and then you have a short turnaround time.  That may be okay though if you have already spent some time thinking about the pros and cons of each firm and the salaries are comparable.
  2. Ask firm one for additional time to make the decision.  It probably makes sense to proceed this way only if you have more than a passing interest in the second firm and if the first firm has given you every indication that it is okay to take your time.  For example, if the firm is waiting on your decision before handing out other offers, this may not work.  However, if you are the only offer outstanding, the firm may be flexible and willing to accommodate.  Consider asking the recruitment coordinator this information.
  3. Accept first firm’s offer.  If you have already decided that the first firm is a better fit for you then no need to wait for firm two to get its act together, although there is probably not much downside to contacting the other firm and asking for its timing.  Moreover, even if you decide to proceed in this way, it certainly does not hurt to wait until Friday.  Note that the fact that firm two is stringing you along may be a factor in your decision but this issue should not be determinative.  People get busy and big firms especially are known to take a long time in many cases.  

Good luck!