Columbia Law School has a great overall rep, but its real claim to fame is that it sends the most grads to Big Law than any law school in the nation. Nearly 70 percent of its Class of 2017 went to Big Law. The next closest school, The University of Chicago Law School, limped in at second, at 60 percent.

So when the New York-based school recently announced it was beefing up a certain specialty, it made news. That’s because it wasn’t anything Big Law related. Um, hardly.

It was public interest.

That’s the opposite of Big Law. That’s where lawyers don’t toil for $190,000 a year. They make, on average, about $50,000. They don’t help corporate America manage mergers and acquisitions or pull off mega-financial deals.

They help needy people ward off shady landlords or homeless vets get much-needed benefits.

It’s not as if Columbia doesn’t have a history of preparing lawyers for pubic service. It does. It’s even ranked among the nation’s top law schools for it. It’s just that many students are drawn to Columbia to land that golden ticket to Big Law. That $190,000? That’s just the first-year salary …

Yet the school is investing $4.5 million over the next three years to improve its public interest programming and accessibility.

Why?

Did three ghosts visit someone of importance at the law school … (Well, we are nearing Christmas.)New York is home to a number of law schools that have strong public interest programs. New York University School of Law and City University of New York School of Law have much heralded public interest offerings. Indeed, CUNY Law’s mission is to create public interest lawyers. It was ranked No. 1 for public interest by preLaw magazine last year.And now Columbia is stepping up its game.“Columbia Law School has a strong tradition of educating and mentoring graduates who will go on to serve the community, and these enhancements now position us as the premier destination for law students eager to pursue public interest and government careers,” said Dean Gillian Lester, in a news release. “Making this work possible and emphasizing its importance is core […]

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