It turns out you don’t have to be a graduate of an elite, private law school to make laws in this country. In fact, more than half of the 20 law schools that have the most graduates in Congress are public institutions. Two of the top five law school with graduates currently in Congress are public institutions—the University of Texas and the University of Virginia. What’s more, 45% of Congress graduated from a law school and attended 105 different law schools.
Out of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, attorneys occupy 160 seats. Out of the 100 senators, 56 are lawyers. Not surprisingly, Harvard has the most graduates in Congress with 18. Hometown Georgetown has 13, followed by Texas (seven), Virginia (six) and Yale (six). More surprisingly, St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, which happens to be unranked by U.S. News, has three graduates in congress. St. Mary’s even beats out Stanford Law School, the University of Chicago Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, which are all highly ranked and have one graduate in Congress a piece.
If you think about it, the influx of public institutions absolutely makes sense. Members of Congress are obviously coming from their representative states. And in many of those states, the best law schools are at the state’s flagship campuses.
One of the reasons some schools continually pump out legislators is strong regional schools have turned into pipelines to Congress. Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law is an example. It currently has four graduates in Congress, making up more than a third of Indiana’s Congressional delegation. It also happens to be located in the state’s capital of Indianapolis. The school’s alumni also includes the current governor of Indiana and three out of five of its Supreme Court Justices.
That alumni network is strong and engaged. According to U.S. Rep Susan Brooks, a 1985 McKinney grad, the school encourages alumni to stay involved and hire fellow grads. Brooks created a congressional internship program specifically for politically inclined students. This is how pipelines are formed and if other public schools do the same, could lead to a continued diversity of law schools represented in Congress. And if diversity in legislation is anything like genetic diversity, it should continue to benefit law making in this country.
Source: National Law Journal
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