Top-ranked law schools produce more fossil fuel industry lawyers, report says


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Dive Brief:

  • Top-ranked law schools produce fossil fuel attorneys at more than three times the rate of the average U.S. law school, according to a new report.
  • The findings from 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 the top 20 spots of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings list.
  • 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 came second and third, producing 5.2 and 4.8 times more fossil fuel lawyers than average respectively. 

Dive Insight:

Questions about how to evaluate law schools are arising as a contingent of them stop participating in U.S. News’ rankings, the law student group says.

One means of doing so is examining if and how the law schools’ graduates are helping solve social issues — like the climate change crisis, the group argues. 

It said the top-ranked programs are on the wrong side of history and is calling on law schools to devote as many resources to funneling students into public service careers as they do to placing them in corporate positions.

“It’s frustrating to see in real time the ways in which schools like mine create a pipeline into work driving climate injustice,” Melissa Kay, a Yale Law School student and one of the report’s lead authors, said in a statement. “We’re encouraged to be curious about ‘the law’ but not about the legal profession. Why does the legal education system make it so much easier for students to get a job destroying the climate than helping it?”


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