So, one of my law school friends the other night sent me an email with a rant, which was 100% justified. In it, s/he shared an “opportunity” that was sent out through the school–a nearly full-time, unpaid internship with a major law firm in Indiana for next summer, that wanted a student in the top 20% of the class with at least a 3.4 G.P.A.
Not such a huge deal, until the email also included that “law school credit” COULD be POSSIBLE for the work, but not necessarily explicit with the internship.
Here’s the rub with my friend, and me: this (for-profit) firm basically wanted free labor–full time–and in my opinion, is taking advantage of the law school’s best and brightest AND the terrible economy by posing this as an opportunity rather than as what it really is–free labor.
Don’t get me wrong, I had to serve many unpaid internship hours while paying a university for my own undergraduate experience in pharmacy school, and now pharmacy students have to do even more professional hours, unpaid, before earning their degrees. Why? Because our accrediting bodies require it. But in pharmacy programs, students receive CREDIT for these experiences as part of their degrees. How many unpaid, practical or practice hours are necessary to earn a law degree, according to the American Bar Association?
This, coupled with the report out today that Indiana has the 11th highest rate in the country for college graduate debt, NO WONDER firms want students to work for free–that’s just another opportunity to keep poor students from earning money in actual jobs, because they can get away with it, due to the lousy economy.
Credit or pay–higher education–but not neither. (Double negative, I know. But you get my point.) By all means, if you want to work for free without earning college credit or money, rock it out. The firm, however, in this case should not have sent this “opportunity” out through the law school. But if you’re working for free and you’re a student in debt and not getting any college or grad school degree credit or remuneration for your work, there’s another word for that, with one of the oldest professions of all, and I won’t repeat it here.
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