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Travel and Reimbursement for Expenses

When it is time to schedule a callback that requires travel, ask the firm whether you should make the arrangements yourself or whether they would prefer that you use their travel agency.  If you will be interviewing with more than one firm in the same city on the same or consecutive days, you can choose one firm to be your “host” firm.  You will make arrangements and submit all receipts to that one firm and they will work with the other firms on the reimbursement.  Students in the past have suggested that it is easier to choose a larger firm as the host firm beause they are likely to have their own travel department which will make the scheduling easier. 

Few employers will cover your expenses for a screening interview, but some will reimburse your expenditures for a callback interview. In general, you should not expect reimbursement from government agencies or public interest/public sector employers. Local firms will not cover any travel expenses.

If you do need to arrange for a callback interview with a law firm, inquire about the reimbursement policy  when you are scheduling the interview.  If the firm is paying for you, be sure that any necessary arrangements are made ahead of time. Otherwise, you may not recover the money you spend without considerable effort later on. 

In general, you will need to submit a reimbursement form and your receipts after your interview. Make sure to keep all receipts. After the interview, complete a NALP Travel Reimbursement Form (see below) or the form sent to you by the employer. Send this form to the employer along with a letter of thanks, if you feel appropriate, for the callback interview. 

Employers have policies about what they will and won’t reimburse.  These policies are written with an eye to successful recruiting and firm profitability. Think about the expenses for which you plan to seek reimbursement and, when in doubt, ASK about the firm’s policy on that issue in advance. Many employers will NOT reimburse for:

  • Expenses “around” your visit, such as coming to New York City the night before a morning interview or staying the night after an interview if you don’t have an interview the next day. For example, only stay overnight in New York or Washington, DC if you have another interview the following day, and then arrange for all firms you are seeing in those two (or more) days to split the costs. A late interview in New York, ending at 5:00 or 6:00 PM, is NOT cause to stay overnight. Some firms will expect you to travel back and forth, so be sure to talk this through ahead of time. 
  • Personal expenses, such as in-room videos, dry cleaning/pressing clothing, dinner for your guest, the magazine you buy to pass the time, hotel and meal costs for staying in that city over the weekend. 
  • Exorbitant expenses such as taking the most expensive means of transportation (take Amtrak rather than the Acela, unless they offer the latter), eating in the best restaurant in town, or ordering a $100 bottle of wine with dinner.  At the other end of the spectrum, think about whether you really need to submit receipts for less than $3.00. 
  • Don’t ever double bill (bill two firms for the same expenses). Firms talk to one another quite a bit throughout this process and will undoubtedly find out. 
  • Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE firms will not reimburse you for your travel to them. 
  • As a general rule, public interest and government employers as well as small law firms will not reimburse you for your travel.

Throughout the callback process, THINK and ASK before incurring an expense.

 

NALP Travel Expense Forms: