Law Students Suffer as Elite Law Schools Take a Step to the Left

There’s a conservative legal movement across the country, though it’s not happening at the top law schools in America. Harvard Law School is lacking any right-of-center educational opportunities, even though students are asking for them.

Originalism has grown from a niche perspective in the past few decades to more of a widespread philosophy, especially within the judiciary field. There are plenty of new federal judges that have been appointed by the Trump administration that focus on originalism. This means that lawyers are going to argue in front of judges that are open to originalist reasoning. There is a need for right-of-center advocacy in a number of underserved communities, as organizations such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the Pacific Legal Foundation have pointed out. The Left is constantly ignoring this aspect.

The law schools responsible for educating tomorrow’s lawyers are taking a step to the left, ignoring the right-of-center and originalist aspect that is needed in the legal field. Students have taken notice, too.

A Look at the Faculty

Harvard Law is a perfect example of not having enough faculty that is willing to teach the originalist components that students want to learn about. There are more than 100 professors with tenure along with lecturers and clinical professors. However, there are less than a handful who are openly right-of-center. Additionally, none focus on originalism.

Harvard (and plenty of other law schools) have room to make things better. Harvard established a professorship that was named after the late Justice, Antonin Scalia. One of the best ways that they could honor his legacy is by choosing a professor for the slot that would advance the jurisprudential approach that Scalia popularized.

It would be better for law students to have a more diverse faculty. Conservative students need to have opportunities that allow them to cultivate relationships with potential mentors. Additionally, progressive students would benefit from seeing a different approach. It can provide a more balanced legal education and ensure that they can articulate arguments on either side as a way to advocate more effectively, particularly in the more conservative federal courts.

Law Clinics Provide Experience

There are law clinics at many of the law schools across the United States. It is a chance for students to get hands-on experience as a lawyer in exchange for academic credit. While this used to be a method for providing free representation, it has subtly transformed itself into legal representation for various issue advocacy, particularly regarding the progressive consensus.

Progressive students at Harvard Law have the opportunity to live their values through a clinical program known as Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. It is the opportunity to challenge agency and presidential actions to open up waters and public lands to development. Then, there’s another opportunity to spend a semester in the Health Law and Policy Clinic to work with coalitions that advocate as a way of protecting Medicare and Medicaid.

Conservative students don’t have the same opportunities. They don’t have a way to live their values through policy clinics, and it’s creating a huge disservice to the student population, particularly those who lean more to the right than to the left.

There’s no problem with having left-leaning clinics. However, Harvard is a major player when it comes to law schools in the United States. If they have left-leaning clinics, they need to establish a balance by creating right-leaning clinics, too. The fact that there are none creates a problem – and students have created a petition to call for Harvard law to expand their clinical offerings. This way, they can cater to the full spectrum of student interests. The petition has garnered over 80 signatures in just four days, with most coming from first-year law students.

Harvard law isn’t the only one falling short of right-of-center clinics and courses, either. Stanford and yell have been guilty of catering to the left more than the right, too.

Students are identifying that law schools are less effective when they become ideological uniform echo chambers. They need to train tomorrow’s leaders in order to be more effective in the courtrooms – and that means knowing how to argue to the right and to the left. Schools need to be conscious about their hiring decisions so that faculty can provide conservative viewpoints. Just as the law schools provide for progressives, they also need to provide for conservatives. With so many originalists filling the ranks of the Supreme Court, right-of-center legal advocacy opportunities need to be considerably more visible than they are currently.