preLaw Magazine - Fall 2008 - 30
While exploring how law schools have gotten better at improving public interest law programs, we’ll examine what resources are available to students, the current trends and the top schools for public interest law. Who’s ahead of the game? Northeastern University School of Law took the top spot with their guaranteed clinical opportunity and public service graduation rate, among others. Dean Emily Spieler said the core difference between her school and others is that they believe every student who enters law school should learn about law and society. “Our approach has more to do with core values,” she said. “I think it’s extremely attractive to students interested in law school. And it’s incredibly supportive for students deciding that’s what they want to do post-graduate.” Approximately 88.7 percent of Northeastern’s 2006 graduating class completed at least one field placement, compared to most law schools, who are in the 30 to 60 percent range. And though Northeastern’s law school tuition is comparably higher than others, approximately 78 percent of students Northeastern University School of Law is a national leader, and an intellectual center, in public interest law and social justice. Putting Public Service Into Practice ■ 85% of our students complete an 11-week, full-time public interest co-op (externship). Members of the class of 2008 contributed more than 126,000 hours to public service through their co-ops. Half of Northeastern’s students participate in one of our clinics, annually donating more than 20,000 hours to their clients and the community. Every ﬁrst-year student undertakes a team social justice project on behalf of a community-based, state agency or advocacy organization through our Legal Skills in Social Context course. Our graduates enter public interest legal positions at a rate that is three to ﬁve times the national average. ■ Our pathbreaking institutes and programs include: Justice Project ■ Global Economy ■ ■ Since 1990, we have awarded more than $2.6 million to 364 graduates through our public interest Loan ■ ■ Law Scholarship Program provides selected students with renewable 75% tuition awards. ■ More than $600,000 is distributed annually to students undertaking public interest or government co-ops. For more information visit www.northeastern.edu/law Boston, Massachusetts 02115 617.373.2395 received scholarships and grants. “What we’re very proud of is everyone graduates understanding what is going on,” Spieler said. To compile the rankings of Best Law Schools for Public Interest Law, preLaw Magazine used a scoring system based on a 100-point scale to assign point values to law schools in three equally weighted categories — student involvement, curriculum and financial factors. The categories reflected the same areas that Equal Justice Works recommends students consider when investigating law schools. The National Jurist listing was compiled independently by staff editors and did not reflect the views of Equal Justice Works. Those in our Top 10 excel in many areas, including the strength of the clinical programs and loan assistance programs, pro bono requirements and the percentage of graduates entering the field. The student involvement category assigned points for student activity and percentage of graduates of the Class of 2006 who entered jobs in the public interest field (defined as jobs in legal services, nonprofit organizations and public defender offices, but not including government jobs or judicial clerkships generally.) The curriculum category assigned points for the existence of a public interest coordinator, strength of clinical programs, and existence of a voluntary or mandatory pro bono graduation requirement. The financial factors category assigned points for cost of tuition, availability of grants and scholarships and strength of loan repayment or loan assistance programs. Other law schools making our top 10 list include Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, Lewis and Clark College of Law, American University Washington College of Law, Stanford University, Mercer University, University of Maryland, University of Washington School of Law, University of North Carolina and the City University of New York School of Law. CUNY Dean Michelle Anderson said overall, the vast majority of law school graduates do not go into public interest practice. “At CUNY we have more students going into public interest law percentagewise,” she said. “Our moto at the law school is ‘Law in the Service of Human Needs.’” 30 preLaw
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