December 3, 2023

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Diving overview:

  • Top-ranked law schools are producing fossil fuel lawyers more than three times faster than the average U.S. law school, according to a new report.
  • Finding from the advocacy group Law Students for Climate Accountability show that nearly half of lawyers working in the fossil fuel industry graduated from a law school in one of the top 20 US News & World Report rankings.
  • The University of Texas School of Law produces the most fossil fuel lawyers, 12.9 times more than the average law school, according to the report. The law programs at the University of Virginia and Yale University ranked second and third, producing 5.2 times as many fossil fuel lawyers and 4.8 times the average, respectively.

Diving statistics:

Questions are being raised about how to rank law schools as their contingent drops out of the U.S. News rankings, a law student group says.

One way to do that is to examine whether and how law school graduates help solve social problems — such as the climate change crisis, the group says.

She said the top-rated programs are on the wrong side of history and called on law schools to devote as much resources to steering students toward careers in public service as they do to placing them in corporate positions.

“It’s frustrating to see in real time the ways schools like mine are creating pipelines into work that fuels climate injustice,” Melissa Kay, a Yale Law student and one of the report’s lead authors, said in a statement. “We are encouraged to be interested in ‘the law’ but not in the legal profession. Why does the legal education system make it so much easier for students to get jobs that destroy the climate than help it?”

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