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When Law Clerks Make $1,100 a Week, Something Is Truly Amiss in This World

July 03, 1988

I felt the need to write you regarding your June 11 story, "The $1,100 a Week Summer Job: L.A. Law Clerks Even Get a Free Lunch."

I am a 1988 magna cum laude graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law and I feel that the picture you have portrayed in your article is greatly distorted. I graduated in the top 4% of my class of 138. Throughout my three years in law school, my grades never dipped below the top 8% range. Yet not one of the so-called "biggest law firms" in Los Angeles would even give me an interview.

I resent your article's attitude that it is "easy street" for any top student out of law school. It might be for someone with Stanford University on the resume, but it is not so for those of us who work just as hard, if not harder, to attain the same grades at a school that does not have the advantage of 75 years of history behind it.

If you carefully checked, I assure you that you would find most of these firms are not as concerned with the student's academic achievements and legal background as they are with the name of the school they are attending and what type of image they will project at business dinners. Unfortunately, these firms care more about status symbols and parties than they do about hiring people who are going to make outstanding lawyers.

Additionally, your statement that "top-notch law students are in short supply" is completely false. From personal experience, I can tell you that there are many top-notch law students available, but these firms will not touch them with a 10-foot pole. Reason?

Despite the fact their academic qualifications are the same, and even though they may have a much more experience than any of the "clerks" you reported on, they do not come from the East, or their heritage cannot be traced to the Mayflower, or they don't have a suit from Brooks Bros. or Anne Klein.

You may be in the top 5% of your class, but if you don't have a Christie Brinkley body or a mightier-than-thou attitude, they won't even talk to you. That is the real story here, and the real discrimination. But I guarantee you this, despite all their free lunches and undeserved "perks," most of us would take them on in the courtroom any chance we got--and would win.

DANA URICK

Los Angeles

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