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Some Young Lawyers Still Want to Help The Underdogs

By       Message Sherwood Ross       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink

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While the public may generally believe lawyers have chosen their profession "for the money," in fact many pick law as a career from a burning desire to help the underdog.

"Just like Superman and Batman they come to the rescue of people in great distress, to battle evil, well-armed opponents in the name of justice and to aid widows and orphans against Wall Street villains and greedy finance companies," says Michael Coyne, associate dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover(MSLAW).

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In interviews he conducted with law students on the Comcast show "Educational Forum," to air at 11 a.m. October 24th, 2010, Coyne says, "I want you to meet today's lawyers, the next generation of leaders, and learn why people turn to the law, how the face of law school has changed and how law schools must change to remain relevant."

To begin with, Coyne interviewed Clynetta Neely, whose application was rejected by 27 different law schools as she repeatedly scored law on the entry-level Law School Admissions Test(LSAT), which supposedly screens out poor prospects at most of the nation's 200-plus law schools recognized by the American Bar Assn.(ABA). Even though Neely was working as a paralegal in immigration law at the Department of Justice, law school admissions officials would not credit her experience or prior excellent academic record.

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When she applied at MSLAW, though, Neely said she was interviewed in person by an admissions person who was "more interested in how I had established myself as an adult since I graduated from undergrad, and by what I had done in the workforce. It was just enlightening to be able to get into a school where the LSAT was not a..factor."

(Note: MSLAW does not choose to affiliate itself with the ABA. In fact, it was instrumental in inspiring a suit by the U.S. Department of Justice against ABA for attempting to dictate policies to law schools. ABA the suit settled by signing a consent decree to stop such practices and paying a fine.)

Not only is Neely graduating from MSLAW with honors but she has been highly successful as a member of its trial advocacy teams, winning against schools such as Harvard and Syracuse. In the last five years in the Thurgood Marshall competition, for example, MSLAW teams have finished nationally in third place three times, second place twice, and first place once. "It's what's here and now that counts, it's not what a multiple choice test says you should have the ability to do," Coyne said, "because you've won the Dean's Award for significant accomplishments and you've proven by a long shot that you're going to be just one terrific lawyer."

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Neely said the most important things she learned in law school were "tolerance for other people...from different backgrounds of life"; teamwork, because nobody in law school makes it alone; and to lead by example because "a great leader's a leader not because they put themselves out but because they make others greater."

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Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...)

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