Law Students Still Can’t Get Paid
The battle for gaining course credit and pay for internships will be on pause for a while. Like a decade-while. But that hasn’t stopped some money-strapped students from continuing to fight and speak out. It seems as though we are reading the stories almost weekly—the struggling, indebted law student has to choose between getting that ever-so-valuable internship and work for free or get paid at or above minimum wage to be a line cook. The latest comes from a Businessweek article and is Joe Zeidner who studies at the Drexel University School of Law.
Zeidner represented the law student division of the American Bar Association (ABA) at the August meeting. His goal? To get the ABA to amend a ban on law students’ ability to get college credit and money for internships. The amendment was not approved.
The truth is, Zeidner has every right to want to fight. According to the Businessweek article, Zeidner and his family of three are on food stamps. Food stamps. In law school. Sure, a paying internship won’t make up the estimated $140,000 of debt law students acquire, but wouldn’t it help? The article points out another student from Valparaiso Law School who is trying to support a family of three and make it through law school.
There is a deeper issue at stake. Low-income college grads would have to either be ignorant or blind to reality to want to pursue a law degree. As student debt soars and employment rates fall, the amount of low- and middle-income students represented in law school classrooms around the country will also fall.
However, the ABA did say they would revisit the idea during the next August meeting. So there is a chance for change. In other professions, the unpaid internship is largely a dying breed. It is a natural progression. Perhaps next year is your year, struggling law students everywhere.