The National Jurist - March 2014 - (Page 18)
The best schools
for public interest law
dam Saper has been able to expand
his legal education experience beyond
the walls of the law school. The
third-year law student at New York
University School of Law has
interned at various nonprofit organizations throughout New York,
working closely with practicing attorneys
to gain a sense for what the postgrad job
would be like. It has also allowed him to
apply and translate what he learned in the
classroom into the real world.
"There is no better way to prepare for
working as a [public interest] lawyer than
to do the work of a lawyer under the great
supervision of clinical faculty," he said.
Law schools are continuing to improve
offerings and services for public servicefocused students by offering increased
clinical and experiential opportunities,
faculty involvement and loan repayment.
Many schools have also developed public
service offices to provide access to faculty,
clinics, externships and programs.
As a result, there are more opportunities than ever before to study public interest law, experience real cases in the field,
get help finding a job and pay off law
The National Jurist ran the numbers to identify the best law schools for
public interest. The rankings weight
schools in three categories: curriculum
(which includes courses, clinical opportunities and faculty); cost of legal education (tuition, debt and loan repayment
options) and placement (the percentage
of graduates who work in public interest
and public service). This year's weight is
stronger on curriculum than in past years
because of more readily available data.
But more than half of the score is based
Jon GArDiner/DUke PhoToGrAPhy
The top schools provide a mix of experiential learning, loan
repayment and placement in the field By Michelle WeyenBerg
Serving the public interest: Duke University law graduates, from 2008 to 2013,
worked on the wrongful conviction of LaMonte Armstrong (center), who served
17 years for a murder he did not commit. Students who worked on his case,
along with clinic co-directors, meet him on the day he was released in 2012.
on experiential opportunities. On the flip
side, the impact of affordability was lowered primarily because of income-based
The top five law schools are: New
York University, Northeastern University
School of Law, American University
Washington College of Law, The George
Washington University Law School and
University of California at Los Angeles
School of Law.
New York University has long been
distinguished by a deep commitment to
public service, and placed No. 2 in The
The NaTioNal JurisT
National Jurist's very first ranking of best
schools for public interest law in 1994.
Its first-year Lawyering Program allows
students to exercise a vast array of legal
skills far beyond the traditional research
"As 1Ls, we learned to not only brief,
but to argue," Saper said. "We learned not
only to argue, but to advocate."
In addition to 39 clinics, the law school
offers a range of scholarship programs, and
the Public Interest Law Center guarantees
funding for all first- and second-year students who want to work in public interest
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The National Jurist - March 2014
The National Jurist - March 2014