In its latest edition, The National Jurist releases its rankings of the Best Law Schools for Public Interest Law. The National Jurist bases its rankings on three equally weighted categories: student involvement, curriculum, and financial factors. The top ten are:
- Northeastern University School of Law
- Loyola Law School in Los Angeles
- Lewis and Clark College of Law
- American University Washington College of Law
- Stanford Law School
- Mercer University School of Law
- University of Maryland School of Law
- University of Washington School of Law
- University of North Carolina School of Law
- City University of New York School of Law
Over the last fifteen years students have become increasingly more interested in pursuing careers in public interest law, as opposed to private practice. Students are seeking a balanced, fulfilling profession that will enable them to “make a difference.” The stereotype of someone working in public interest law because he “can’t make it in a big firm” is no longer true, and instead competition for such positions is fierce.
One critical drawback for those students seeking legal careers in the public sector is the high cost of law school. Dean Emily Spieler of Northwestern School of Law (#1 in this ranking) explains that public sector salaries simply cannot compete with those of the private sector. “That’s really a core challenge at this point…When I went to law school you could graduate with debt and work it off, and not it’s difficult for students to do.” Therefore, Spieler says that student financial support in the form of scholarships, stipends and loan repayment are essential to the future success of public interest law programs.