Uniting the Head, Hands, and Heart: How Specialty Externships Can Combat Public Interest Drift
25 (2) Clinical Law Review 325 (2019)
41 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 19, 2019
Many students come to law school because they want to use their law degrees “for good,” to help people, have an impact on society, or create social change. As has been extensively documented, these plans often dissipate at some point during their three years. Public interest drift, as this phenomenon is commonly referred, is a crisis caused by numerous factors. It requires a full-fledged, multi-faceted effort to push back against it. In this article, we propose the development of public interest specialty externship programs as one tool to combat drift. These programs offer students the ability to extern at a specific group of placements, unified not necessarily by practice type but by a central public interest theme, and to enroll in a corresponding seminar that explores such a theme in more depth in a classroom setting. Using two case studies from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law as examples, this article explores how specialty programs can work intentionally to maintain students’ commitment to using their law degrees to promote the public good, helping them rediscover their passions, and in turn, uniting their heads, hands, and hearts.
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