US professor launches ‘Anything but Law School’ scholarship

A personal injury lawyer from Chicago has launched an “Anything But Law School” scholarship of $1,000 to try and dissuade American graduates from signing up to law school.

Matthew Willens, who lectures in law at his former university Loyola University Chicago, is offering the scholarship through his firm, Willens Law Offices, is offering the scholarship to anyone applying for graduate school in 2014. The scholarship requires a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and an essay describing the candidate’s chosen career and detailing why career prospects in their chosen field appear favourable.

The firm’s website lists Willens’ reason for offering the scholarship as the mismatch between a surplus of law graduates and deficit of legal career opportunities.

It reads: “Some of you may be wondering, why would a law firm create a scholarship to dissuade students from practicing law?

“The answer is simple: we currently do not have enough jobs to be able to effectively train the current number of freshly minted lawyers in our profession.”

Willens told the Chicago Tribune that many law school graduates were attempting to launch their own practices and taking on clients despite a lack of experience.

He added: “They just really don’t know what they’re doing. From a selfish perspective, it doesn’t help the profession. It’s a black eye.”

The process of qualifying as a lawyer in the United States is far more expensive than in the UK, with the average debt of a student graduating from law school standing at over $100,000.