Law Schools: Want to Help Bend the Arc of the Moral Universe Toward Justice? Hire Law Professors with Public Service Experience
45 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2023
Date Written: September 5, 2023
We are living in momentous times. Social justice and the legitimacy of our political systems are at the forefront of many people’s minds. Demands for change - sometimes revolutionary change - abound, based on myriad crises: the murders of Tyre Nichols, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor; mass incarceration and the criminalization of poverty; the bungled response to COVID-19 and resulting economic precarity of many across the globe; threats to our democratic institutions and educational institutions at home and abroad; the erosion of reproductive rights, the environment, and tribal sovereignty; attacks on LGBTQIA+ people and their rights; and persistent and devastating levels of gun violence, to name a few. During momentous times like these, law schools can and should make a difference. But how we do that is a more complex question. Is it only through career services offices that encourage students to pursue careers fighting for social justice? Or do professors, even ones in required doctrinal courses, have a role to play in transforming our society? In this article, I argue the latter. And I argue that one way law schools can ensure that their professors are equal partners in this fight for social justice is by hiring law professors with experience in public service (more than just a year or two clerking). Doing so requires evaluating the law professor hiring process, both in fact and in the way we talk about it. But if my suggested interventions are adopted, I think law schools can ensure that the legal community contributes to the revolutions and reforms necessary to meet the demands of these momentous times.
Keywords: legal academia, social justice, access to justice
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation