Building a Better Legal Profession is a national grassroots movement that seeks market-based workplace reforms in large private law firms. By publicizing firms' self-reported data on billable hours, pro bono participation, and demographic diversity, we draw attention to the differences between these employers. We encourage those choosing between firms - students deciding who to work for after graduation, corporate clients deciding who to hire, and universities deciding who to allow on campus for interviews - to exercise their market power and engage only with the firms that demonstrate a genuine commitment to these issues. To reach our first target - law students deciding which firm to work for after graduation - it is imperative that we meet and speak with law students across the country so that we can get the critical mass needed to create true, lasting change. In pursuit of this mission, BBLP has conducted a national campus tour and hosted a conference at Stanford Law School in 2009 which connected law students interested in the issues BBLP covers (diversity, pro bono, billable hours, and, now, attrition rates) with the organization and each other.
To continue building the movement, Building a Better Legal Profession recently sent me on a tour of the top law schools in the Northeast: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and NYU, in my role as campus outreach director. The first stop on my campus tour was Harvard Law School. While I definitely began the presentation with butterflies in my stomach, within minutes I relaxed and was able to deliver the presentation without even looking at my notes (a first!). I was able to relax because 1. I really believe in BBLP's mission (link to the page w/ our mission?) and am excited to share it with other law students who will hopefully help propel the movement forward and 2. the incredible HLS audience. When people began to trickle in early I thought well maybe these are just the few enthusiastic people who will come. I even said to the first three in the audience (ten minutes before the presentation was scheduled to begin) that if we don't get much more attendance we can just gather around my laptop and have more one on one time exploring firms on the website. That would have been impossible given the size of the audience that eventually showed up -- about 30 students, some faculty members, and at least one staff member. The presentation went very naturally with some questions asked throughout, rather than waiting for the Q&A session I planned for the end. Many of the students had thoughtful questions and some challenging questions too, each of which showed that they were truly interested in the material being presented (our attrition data and diversity rankings, in particular) and not just the free gourmet pizza!
Building a Better Legal Profession (BBLP) is an organization based at Stanford Law School. BBLP is a national grassroots movement that seeks market-based workplace reforms in large private law firms. For more information, visit BBLP's Web site at www.betterlegalprofession.org.