Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Continuing a conversation that was started on this blog a couple of weeks, Joe Lurie of the Peggy Browning Fund writes to provide his take on the academic future of labor and employment law in the greater legal academy and what his group, the Peggy Browning Fund, is doing to help to ensure the future of labor law in particular:
As most of you know, the Peggy Browning Fund’s core mission is educating law students as to the rights and needs of workers. As recently as 20 years ago, law schools across the country recognized this educational goal as an important part of their curriculum. Unfortunately, today this is no longer the case. On April 11, 2013, Reuters reported that Professor Paul Secunda, who teaches labor and employment law at Marquette University School of Law, stated that “law schools give labor and employment law short shrift.” Professsor Secunda went on to say that “hiring among law school professors specializing in labor and employment dropped this year, and the field is overlooked at many law schools.”
Thanks to your help, we have made, and continue to make, an impact in the education and recruitment of young lawyers for the labor movement. Our 10-week summer fellowship program and our annual National Law Students Workers’ Rights Conference provide the training and education many law students want but do not receive in law school. We offer law students wide-ranging opportunities to work for social and economic justice. Building on these opportunities, many of our alumni have gone on to work for unions, the National Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Department of Labor, worker centers and union-side law firms.
Law schools have created a vacuum in labor law and employment law legal education. Even though we are proud of increasing the number of fellows we placed to 70 positions, we cannot begin to fill this vacuum. This year we received well over 500 applications for the 70 fellowship positions we can afford to offer. The waiting list for unions and worker centers wanting our students is long and continues to grow. With your help, we can continue to strengthen the labor movement by educating the next generation of lawyers committed to working for economic and social justice.
Thanks to Joe and the Peggy Browning Fund for penning this piece and I can state from personal experience that my students over the years have very much enjoyed participating in the group's national conference and fellowship programs.
Just another avenue (albeit on the union side of things) for providing the labor and employment law skills and education students need to be successful attorneys in this vital area of study.