Incoming summer associates, would you donate one day of your summer salary to help other students at your school who did not get summer jobs? Would you donate that money for a pro bono or public interest cause? Would you donate that money so your law school could fund the pro bono interests of other students?
Or am I giving you a false choice? Is it offensive to suggest that your law school needs one cent of your hard-won salary to fund public interest programs that should be covered by your tuition?
These are the questions facing students at one law school, thanks to an interesting donation request from the school’s administration. This isn’t a public interest auction like you’ll see at many law schools, where students with extra cash can bid on items, and auction proceeds are used to fund public interest fellowships. Rather, this is a direct request for a redistribution of income.
And I’m not sure if this is laudable or monstrous…
Here’s the curious email received by students at the University of Oklahoma College of Law:
Do you have a paid position… now, over the summer, or after graduation? If so, please consider donating a day of your pay to SATJ to help students working for the underserved. One day… half a day… however much you can give would be appreciated! All money raised through this pledge drive will go toward the Coats Fellowships, summer stipends for students working in unpaid summer internships at government agencies and public interest organizations.
If you are looking for a less-significant investment, consider purchasing a SATJ t-shirt. Proceeds from t-shirt sales will also go to the Coats Fellowships.
Forms for both the Donate a Day drive and the t-shirts are attached. Thank you for your consideration!
Okay, I’m going to split my personality in two so I can lay out both sides of the argument:
I am Elie’s boiling fists of rage. Where the hell does Oklahoma get off asking kids who have busted their asses (probably without much help from OU) to secure paying jobs to foot the bill for kids who did not? It’s not even about whether or not the employed kids objectively agree with the cause. Instead, it’s a simple question of who should pay for this program. On the one hand, struggling students could pay; on the other hand, the MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS CALLED THE COLLEGE OF LAW could kick in a few bucks for the school’s pro bono commitment. Christ on a stick, is the FACULTY donating a day’s pay? Is the DEAN? If so, they should considering donating TWO days before they start passing the collection plate in front of debt-ridden students. Wouldn’t tuition easily cover these kinds of programs if the administrators weren’t so damn greedy and profiteering?
I am Elie’s bleeding heart. Really guys, it’s just a day’s pay. We need people to provide services to the underserved, and some lawyers look at pro bono as a professional responsibility. It’s charity, so you don’t have to contribute if you don’t want to, but there’s no harm in the school asking. And hell, there but for the grace of God go you, right? The difference between having a real summer job and an unpaid summer internship is slight in this economy. Why not help out your fellow student who maybe couldn’t get a paying job? It’s one freaking day.
I am Elie’s conflict-abhorring brain. Like Social Security, this entitlement program breaks down because there are not enough people paying into the system to cover the masses who need to take money out. A tipster explains:
In this e-mail the 1L’s with working summer gig’s were asked to donate a day of their pay to a scholarship fund which pays stipends for 1L’s who are volunteering over the summer. (Keep in mind there are only 2 of these 3k stipends available and 175 of us.) I could be crazy, and I’m all about giving what I can, but I think this is insane to ask a bunch of debt ridden unemployed law students to fund other unemployed law students. We had no more than 8 firms at our 1L’s OCI and less than 20% of our 1L class has jobs for the summer and 2L’s are not much better. I could understand if we had 80% summer employment, but this has not gone over well with the students.
You see, Oklahoma, your own law students are the “underserved community” right now. They don’t need charity (or donuts); they need jobs. You need to do better when it comes to helping people get paying jobs; if you do that, those people will be more than willing to give something back.
So, to summarize: Jobs, jobs, jobsjobsjobs, jobs, and JOBS. Then let’s talk about your charitable initiatives.