Written by Alyssa Walker

Some big law firms still require summer associates to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. Will you have to sign one? The short answer is "no." Not if you don't want to.

Employers often ask employees--and in this case, summer associates--to sign arbitration agreements in which they give up their rights to sue the company or firm over job-related issues such as wrongful conduct or sexual harassment. 

There's a wide range of practices in arbitration agreements, especially at Biglaw firms.

According to Abovethelaw.com, in May all T14 law schools sent out a survey to every law firm recruiting on their campuses, asking for disclosure on whether arbitration agreements and non-disclosure agreements were required.

The T14 team sent out 400 requests for information and got only about half back. 

Abovethelaw.com reported responses from students.

According to a statement from one law school student who was disappointed by the firms who chose not to respond, “almost half of the firms who received the survey — nearly two hundred — have decided to hide behind a wall of secrecy. Especially in the #MeToo era, we are disheartened that they are unwilling to take a simple step to engage on this important issue."

Berkeley Law Assistant Dean in the Career Development Office, Terrence J. Galligan advised students to seek out the information before accepting any offer, saying, "The results include the names of employers who did not respond to the survey. If you are interested in employers that did not respond, you should feel free to ask them about their practices. You may decide to wait until after you receive an offer, but you should certainly ask prior to accepting it. If an employer indicates that it will ask you to sign an arbitration agreement, you should ask to see a copy of the agreement before accepting an offer."

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Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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