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Righting Wrongs at CUNY Law: New Approaches to Student Recruitment

December 16, 2013

Nationwide, law school applications are down almost 40 percent since 2010, according to the Law School Admission Council, in part because of the criticism of law schools.

There have been two main criticisms of how most law schools operate today: 1) They fail to prepare students for the practice of law; and 2) They are too expensive, and students often graduate with debt they cannot repay, especially since many traditional opportunities for employment are drying up.

As a result, for students who dream of work in big corporate firms, law schools have become less attractive.

“Students are doing the math,” said CUNY Law Dean Michelle Anderson, in a recent article in the New York Times. “Most law schools are too expensive, the debt coming out is too high, and the prospect of attaining a six-figure-income job is limited.”

CUNY Law and CUNY Law students are different, however.

CUNY Law, from its founding, has made experiential training the centerpiece of its program, which makes its students exceptionally practice-ready when they graduate. “Students have come to study at CUNY because we have one of the best clinical programs in the country,” said Anderson. “CUNY Law is consistently ranked in the top 10 in the nation for clinics. What’s more, with one of the lowest tuition rates in the country, we ensure that our students receive an excellent legal education without incurring crushing debt.”

Moreover, although the traditional legal market is contracting, the need for committed public interest attorneys could not be higher. The financial crisis has left many low-income people destitute, and many in the middle class have slipped into poverty.

Anderson said, “The nature of the profession is changing. But unmet legal needs in poor and moderate-income communities are growing.”

Many CUNY Law graduates go on to work in solo and small, community-based practices and for nonprofit organizations such as the Legal Aid Society.

In response to declining law school applications, CUNY Law has refocused its messages to prospective students to ensure they know the extraordinary value of a CUNY Law education and the broader need for public interest attorneys. This fall, the school launched a dynamic new admissions outreach campaign that draws upon the passion that motivates students to apply to CUNY Law.

Campaign Posters

Messages such as “Right Wrongs,” “Passionate about CommUNITY,” and “The Law Is Our Weapon to Fight for Social Justice” fuel the new campaign. With new print materials, websites targeted to prospective and admitted students, Facebook groups, and other tools, CUNY Law is working to help prospective students understand how very different CUNY is.

Alumni are taking a role in this new “Right Wrongs” campaign.

“Our graduates are our best ambassadors,” said Assistant Dean for Admissions Helena Quon. “Alumni know the unique value of a CUNY Law education in a way that no one else does, and prospective students greatly value alumni perspectives.”

Alumni interested in helping us recruit strong public interest advocates can receive a free “Alumni Ambassador Activation Kit” with posters, buttons, stickers, wristbands, and a checklist of easy ways to become involved.

“These are fun tools that can help word-of-mouth referrals, which is how we often find exceptional students,” said Quon.

To learn more and to receive an Alumni Ambassador Activation Kit, e-mail or call 718.340.4210.

More from CUNY Law magazine Fall 2013 »


Related Categories: Alumni, Magazine

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