We’ve done a couple of reports on how difficult it is for law schools to raise money through class gifts. Jobs are hard to come by and graduating 3Ls aren’t really in a giving mood.

It’s no surprise that class of 2010 at Harvard Law School reacted negatively when this year’s class gift request came off about as sympathetically as a Toyota fueled by BP. But some schools are trying to do something a little bit different with the class gift this year. South Carolina is asking students to donate time instead of money. And at the kids at Northern Kentucky — Salmon P. Chase College of Law have a particularly interesting idea for 3Ls who want to give back.

Granted, so far almost nobody is participating, but it’s still a really good idea…

At Chase, the thought is that graduating 3Ls should give money to help 2Ls take public interest jobs next year. How very LeStat of them. The 3Ls could give the 2Ls the choice they never had:

Greetings,

First, CONGRATULATIONS on your graduation from Chase Law School and best wishes for all the great adventures that lie ahead, beginning, of course, with your next hurdle, whether that be passing the bar and/or finding meaningful and fulfilling employment. We know you’ll do Chase Law School proud…

Gifts to the Class of 2010 Graduation Campaign will be designated to support next year’s 2L students participating in Summer Public Interest Clerkships. This is an important, but underfunded, part of our experiential education, which introduces participating students to the value of pro bono community service while providing them a valuable clerkship experience.

If the school can’t provide jobs, it’s kind of nice for the students to take matters into their own hands.

The only problem is that it’s really hard to give back if you’ve already been taken advantage of yourself:

This is our final effort to grow the number of your classmates (6 so far) who already recognize the value of their legal education at Chase Law School…

Class of 2010: 6 donors — 4% participation. $41 average gift or pledge — $250 total raised.

The largest gift was for $50, with most in the $20 – $50 range

With only 4% of the class participating, I don’t think Chase is looking at a recognition problem. If anything, it seems to me that the students are all too aware of the value of their legal education.

But it’s still a good idea. If you are graduating in the class of 2010 and are thinking of giving money back to your law school, at the very least you should be trying to earmark it to help rising 2Ls who will still be in a terrible situation in a couple of months when they start recruiting.

Maybe you shouldn’t think of it as a “gift” to the law school. Instead, think of it as a sacrament of penance and charity. Nobody should have to go through what the class of 2010 went through, and nobody knows that better than the class of 2010.

Earlier: State of Law School Giving Redux: HLS Offers New Options, South Carolina Had It Right All Along
Open Thread: The State of Law School Giving


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