One of the great privileges of serving as an elected member of the ABA Law Student Division Board of Governors is having the opportunity to talk to law students across the country about issues important to them. Even though each law school—and each law student for that matter—has its own individual concerns, we generally find that all students are concerned about law school debt and the current job market for recent graduates.
Last year, former ABA President Carolyn Lamm formed the Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis on the Profession and Legal Needs to guide the ABA’s response to the recession. The Commission’s efforts included creating a more robust job search site, devising ideas for networking and career transitioning, among others. Additionally, in collaboration with the Division, the Commission advocated for changes to federal student loan policies. Last February, the ABA House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed Resolution 301, urging President Obama and Congress to assist law students and recent law school graduates facing financial hardships due to deferred or lack of employment.
This month, Americans went to the polls for what was described as a pivotal election year. In January, newly elected members of Congress will head to Washington, D.C., ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Additionally, the congressional leadership and the White House will begin preparing their agendas and setting priorities for the coming years. This is our chance to contribute to our country’s political discourse and make sure the White House and the 112th session of Congress are fully aware of the financial burdens law students are faced with in funding their educations in light of the current job market.
The Division’s leadership and staff are working with the guidance of the ABA Government Affairs Office to create a comprehensive plan for strengthening our advocacy efforts, especially at the grassroots level. In the coming months, we will be reaching out to our student members to join our efforts. These are critical times and we have a great opportunity to educate lawmakers on the importance on investing in students and our futures.
Our commitment to advocacy doesn’t stop in Washington or only pertain to student loans. The Division is also working with ABA leaders to advocate on issues ranging from improving the quality of legal education in America to ensuring that law schools are upfront with students about the costs of earning a law degree—even working with state judiciaries to retain judicial clerkships in the midst of decreasing state funding.
The Law Student Division Board of Governors is honored to be your voice in the legal profession, and we look forward to working with each of you on these important issues this year and beyond.