Athletes won’t be the only students not getting paid.
In a striking rebuke to its Standards Review Committee, the ABA has chosen to continue its ban on students earning both academic credit and pay for completing externships. In February, the committee had recommended dropping the prohibition on students receiving payment for legal work completed during field placements.
Barry Currier, a former law dean who serves as the ABA’s managing director for admissions and legal education, argued that the decision was based on the “perceived tension between the obligations of someone who is a paid employee and a student.”
The opposition to this rule change included the Society of American Law Teachers. In a statement, the Society had warned that “allowing students to be paid while simultaneously getting academic externship course credit will necessarily undermine the academic focus of field placement experiences and will not likely expand the number or kind of placements available to students.” The National Law Journal reports that the Clinical Legal Education Association also opposed paying students for externships, worried that employers would avoid offering externships or only hire top students if they had to pay for their field experience.
As expected, students were universally supportive of the Standard Review Committee’s recommendation. The Washburn Student Bar Association had cited rising education costs and student debt loads as reasons for the change: “Many students must earn money while in law school to offset the debt they are constantly amassing. They often must forego the type of legal experience that qualifies for academic credit because they cannot afford to give up their paying jobs.”
Similarly, Peter Borock, a University of Michigan Law student, cited his own externship experience, where the pay prohibition forced him to turn down an organization’s offer of free housing, resulting in additional costs of $1,500 per month for a shared apartment.
The decision will be reviewed by the ABA’s House of Delegates during its annual meeting in August. However, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which rendered this decision, has final say over the House of Delegates.
Source: National Law Journal