Law School Discussion

Public-Interest Focused Schools

Public-Interest Focused Schools
« on: October 24, 2007, 02:41:11 AM »
So--I recently went to a Admissions Dean presentation for Boalt at Stanford.  (Before you get all uppity, yes, I know that Boalt is supposedly no longer called Boalt and not located at Stanford.  The presentation happened at Stanford...)

I almost guffawed when the Boalt Admissions Dean started going on and on and on and on about how Boalt's mission was to train lawyers for public service.  Sure, he's a sales guy, and sure, there are a lot of impressionable, young law applicants that think saving the world is their calling.  But don't the statistics say otherwise?

The real point of my semi-rant is, which schools DO NOT purport to be public interest focused?  I have no problem saying that I want to be a corporate whore BIGLAW type, so...which schools are with me, and which are pretending (a la Boalt) to be against me?

Thoughts?

On the "We love public interest" side:
Boalt
UNC
Hastings

Any others?

PS--Before you all decide I am an evil troll, I like pro bono work and have done tons of charity.  But I cannot become a public interest lawyer because of previous debt issues.  It's just not in the cards.

$Bill

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Re: Public-Interest Focused Schools
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2007, 05:53:44 AM »
Northeastern's Optional Essay:

It is highly suggested that you use your Co-Ops to fulfill the public interest requirement of a Northeastern Legal Education.  What type of advocacy firm or organization would you like to enter, and why?

(paraphrasing)

vap

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Re: Public-Interest Focused Schools
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2007, 06:05:25 AM »
American is usually seen as a "public interest school."

I'm not extremely familiar with all of these schools, but they seem to be less public interest oriented:
Texas
Fordham
Vanderbilt

Re: Public-Interest Focused Schools
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2007, 09:16:20 AM »
If a certain school, say Berkeley/Boalt, makes sense for you otherwise, go there.

The public interest angle is pure puff, as very few law grads from any school actually end up going into public interest upon graduation. If you want pro bono volunteer work as a student, you can do that at any school. Once you get to law school, you'll find no one, except for a few starry eyed 1Ls, demonize working in the private sector. Oddly enough, many of these same 1Ls will be looking for big firm jobs when 2L recruiting season comes around.

My guess is that schools try to play up the whole public service thing because it might motivate people to apply who are otherwise not sure if law school is right for them at all. Also, it might help to "humanize" the school and therefore differentiate it from peer schools, which in turn means more applications. More apps means the school gets to have a higher reject rate, which makes the school look better in USNEWS, etc.

For people who want to do public interest:

1. Go to a school like Harvard / Yale with a generous LRAP program.

2. OR go to a school with an UNCONDITIONAL full ride.

3. OR go to the cheapest in-state law school you can. If you don't have residency anywhere, establish residency somewhere, THEN go to law school.


Re: Public-Interest Focused Schools
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2007, 09:23:09 AM »
I feel like Northwestern has a very strong corporate emphasis.

Cabra

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Re: Public-Interest Focused Schools
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2007, 09:57:01 AM »
I think Boalt is being pretty honest when they talk about their commitment to public interest--13% of their graduating class went into public interest last year--very high even next to other self-proclaimed public interest-focused schools like NYU.

So you're asking which schools DON'T support public interest? Everyone in the t14 is going to have decent options for folks who want to do the public interest thing--but only if you choose it. The only places that might give you a harder time for being non-do-goody are probably Boalt and NYU.

Re: Public-Interest Focused Schools
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2007, 06:00:19 PM »
Wisconsin makes a big deal about the public interest.

I'd list BU as a school that doesn't.

Re: Public-Interest Focused Schools
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2007, 08:11:33 PM »
Northeastern is completely built around public interest. They also have a very interesting grading system - no letter grades, but instead a write up on your performance in the class. The only other school I know of that employs this type of grading system is New College of Florida.

Re: Public-Interest Focused Schools
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2007, 09:02:35 PM »
Northeastern is an interesting case. Back when I originally applied to law school, I thought their co-op program sounded really cool. I still do, though honestly I don't know how it plays out in practice. I did hear good things about it from one NE alum, but they graduated 15 years ago or more, probably.

The biggest drawback to Northeastern is the cost. They have some sort of loan forgiveness program for those doing public interest after graduation, but if you look closely at it, you'll see that it isn't very comprehensive and it will still leave you debt strained, assuming you borrowed to attend. Even if you don't go into public interest, you will likely be debt strained by a Northeastern degree you borrowed to pay for.

As for the grading system, you had better believe that by now, employers who hire NE grads have figured out some way to convert those evals into rough letter grades. I've heard from one NE student that their evals contained certain "buzzwords" that could easily be converted into letter grades or some semblance thereof if an employer was so inclined. There is no reason to think this doesn't happen either because law is an incredibly snobbish field at nearly every level. NE just isn't prestigious enough to give all of it's grads great prospects like some other schools (Berkeley, Yale, etc.) that employ non-trad grading systems.

One thing about public interest and law school in general(at least for those not at top schools) that many students fail to understand is that it's much easier to cut costs up front, by attending a cheaper school, or an in-state school than it is to figure out how to service that debt after graduation.

For someone who really wants to do public interest, but doesn't have a good in-state option, I'd honestly recommend taking a good look at CUNY. Tuition for non-residents is about $15K a year.


Northeastern is completely built around public interest. They also have a very interesting grading system - no letter grades, but instead a write up on your performance in the class. The only other school I know of that employs this type of grading system is New College of Florida.

GunnerDore

Re: Public-Interest Focused Schools
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2007, 10:16:56 PM »
Vanderbilt is more public-interest friendly than you might think, but from speaking with admissions reps, this friendliness stems chiefly from their student loan forgiveness scheme.