ABA Journal, Proposal to Lift Ban on Academic Credit for Paid Externships Draws Heavy Opposition:
A proposed change in the law school accreditation standards that would lift the ban on students receiving academic credit for paid externships has drawn a lot of comment—and much of the comment is in opposition to lifting the ban.
Under the current standards, law students are barred from receiving both credit and pay for an externship. But the governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has approved for notice and comment a proposal that would eliminate the ban.
That proposal is just one of four proposed changes in the standards (PDF) that the council has posted for notice and comment. But it is the one that has drawn the lion’s share (PDF) of comments. And most of those comments have been negative.
The proposed changes were also the subject of a public hearing Friday at which representatives from two legal education groups—the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) and the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA)—spoke out against lifting the ban. ...
The Standards Review Committee, which makes recommendations to the council about changes in the standards, will decide next month at a meeting in New Orleans whether to recommend any changes in the proposed revisions based on the comments it has received.
Any proposed changes will come back to the council for final consideration in March.
Update: The Volokh Conspiracy (Washington Post): The ABA Should Let Law Students Earn Academic Credit for Paid Externships, by Ilya Somin (George Mason):
This reform is simple common sense: the educational value of an externship does not depend on whether the student is paid or not. Moreover, allowing credit for paid externships is particularly valuable for poor students and others who may be having difficulty making ends meet. That’s an especially significant advantage at a time when there is increasing (often justified) concern over excessive law school tuition. At the very least, the ABA should not forbid individual law schools from making their own decisions on this issue. Schools should be able to decide for themselves whether any given paid externship has enough educational value to justify awarding academic credit. ...
Much of the opposition to this reform comes from clinical faculty who run clinics where law students work for free. If students could get credit from doing paid externships, more would choose that option and fewer would participate in clinics. That, in turn would reduce the demand for clinical faculty, and diminish the pool of unpaid labor on which clinics depend.
That doesn’t by itself prove that the clinical faculty members’ opposition is either insincere or necessarily wrong. Some of the people on the other side of the issue also have self-interest on the line. For example, student supporters of the reform proposal have an obvious interest in being able to get credit for paid externships. But the interests at stake do mean that we should not assume that CLEA’s and SALT’s lobbying against the proposal is purely a matter of disinterested expertise to which the ABA and others should defer. Organized interest groups often come to assume that what benefits them is also good for the public interest. We law professors are not immune to that tendency.
Wall Street Journal, Should Law School Students Be Allowed to Earn Credit for Paid Work?
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- As ABA Inches Closer To Approving Paid Externships, George Mason 3L Urges ABA To Prioritize Financial Interests Of Law Students Over Clinical Law Profs (Dec. 8, 2015)
- For Third Time, ABA Committee Votes To Eliminate Ban On Academic Credit For Paid Externships (Sept. 23, 2015)
- ABA Rejects Paid Externships, Tightens Reporting Of Law School-Funded Jobs, Repeals Rule Allowing 10% LSAT-Free Classes (Aug. 3, 2015)
- Anderson: Law Students Should Speak Up For Paid Externships (July 22, 2015)
- Law Profs, Law Grads Debate Changing Accreditation Standards To Permit Paid Externships (July 20, 2015)
- ABA Approves Paid Externships, 10% LSAT-Free Classes For Notice And Comment (June 9, 2015)
- ABA To Consider Paid Externships, 10% LSAT-Free Classes (June 4, 2015)
- NY Times Debate: Should the ABA Allow Paid Externships for Law Students? (Sept. 18, 2014)
- ABA: Law Schools Can Admit 10% of Students Without LSAT, Must Do Annual Audit of Placement Data, Can't Give Academic Credit for Paid Externships (June 10, 2014)
- ABA Releases Notice & Comment on Proposed Changes to Law School Accreditation Standards (Mar. 27, 2014)