Are Law Schools Turning Students Away from Public Interest Law?

Theories abound as to why fresh, new lawyers are not turning to public service when they enter the workforce. Much of the discussion centers on the incredible debt that arises from law school, an average of $80,000+. Sure it would be hard to accept a job for $40,000 a year (see my previous article), but an article by Tan N. Nguyen in the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal paints a different picture.

According to Nguyen, law professors may play a large role in where students seek employment and that the trend is toward large firms.

Law schools often teach legal skills in the absence of any discussion regarding equity, fairness, or the possible result of their application in people’s lives. The case-analysis method of teaching law separates legal thinking from larger societal values.

Nguyen suggests alternatives in the article.

Now may be a good time for us to re-examine how we paint the profession to law students. Public interest lawyers do great work and deserve recognition. Maybe it’s time to let law students know that too.


PS – Many thanks to Ezra Rosser at Poverty Law Prof Blog for pointing us toward the article.