Article: The Elite Law Schools Whose Graduates Contribute The Most To Climate Change

Above The Law

If there’s a ranking that a law school doesn’t want to come out on top in, it’s this one.

Students who graduate from our nation’s top law schools are too often faced with a choice between morality and prestige when making decisions about their career paths. When the best law schools facilitate a job search that feeds into the “Biglaw or bust” mentality, success is measured by the number of graduates who have secured positions at firms that may represent clients that represent the worst of the worst when it comes to our planet’s ongoing climate crisis.

A new report from Law Students for Climate Accountability set out to answer a simple question: which top 20 law schools, as ranked by U.S. News, have produced the most fossil fuel lawyers?

Before we get to that, we’ll remind our readers that the LSCA’s latest Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard showed that major corporate law firms are a “hotbed of fossil fuel activity.” Here’s a breakdown of what that means: per LSCA, Vault 100 firms conducted 420 representations in cases exacerbating climate change, facilitated $1.62 trillion of fossil fuel transactions, and received $36.6 million in compensation for fossil fuel lobbying between 2017 and 2021. It’s worth noting here that each T-20 law school sends more than 41% of its graduates to Vault 100 firms, and many of those graduates go on to exacerbate the climate crisis through their legal work.

Thanks to LSCA’s “Fueling the Climate Crisis” report, the following facts have been revealed about the top 20 law schools:

  • T-20 schools have produced fossil fuel lawyers at over three times the rate of the average U.S. law school.
  • Nearly half of U.S. fossil fuel lawyers attended a T-20 law school.

It’s time for law schools to get with the times and do more to stop propelling students into careers where they may be doing more harm than good.

“Legal education—and particularly ‘elite’ law schools—have been captured by corporate interests that profit from, among other things, rendering the planet uninhabitable,” says Jon Hanson, the Alan A. Stone Professor of Law and the Director of the Systemic Justice Project at Harvard Law School. “The time is long overdue for those law schools and their BigLaw benefactors to be judged not according to their lofty justice claims or their astronomical wealth but according to their actual consequences here on Earth.”

Without further ado, according to Law Students for Climate Accountability, these are the top 10 schools that have produced the most fossil fuel lawyers:

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