"[W]e've jacked up the price of legal education to such an extent that it's going to be very difficult to subsidize people to the point where they can take $45,000-a-year jobs no matter how badly they may want to," Campos says. "In order to do that, we have to do way more than maybe throw a little bit of money at a summer internship program."
Although Campos only recommends that law students with government or nonprofit connections pursue public interest careers, some students say they're thrilled to land summer stipends.
Ashley Matthews, a 3L at the University of Virginia School of Law and president of the student-run Public Interest Law Association, says summer interns at her school are glad to volunteer their time not only to fund their own stipends but also to "pay it forward" to the next class.
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Jake Englander, a 2L at Brooklyn Law School, says his public interest fellowship last summer allowed him to help file petitions, communicate with clients and attorneys, and make arguments before a judge. At a big firm, he would have reviewed documents, he says.
"Had I been required to fundraise or do something else in exchange for the stipend, it may have changed my enthusiasm for the whole thing, but I'd likely have gone for it anyway," Englander says. "I'd imagine that some others might have been turned off completely, but most would have probably still jumped at the free money."
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