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Law Clerk's Lament

December 11, 1988

Last summer The Times published an article describing the soft life of the law firm summer clerk. Letters in response described the elitist attitude of top Los Angeles law firms, which recruit only from selected "top" law schools. As a student at the University of Chicago Law School, I got to participate in the high pay, free lunches, Dodger tickets and other assorted perks.

I'm now looking for a job for next summer. Because I am interested in public service, I applied for a clerkship with the Los Angeles County District Attorney. The result? I wasn't even granted an interview. Unlike private law firms, the district attorney does not believe that "top" law schools produce potentially better lawyers than do other law schools. Quite to the contrary, I was told.

A failure by the county to recruit the best and brightest? Or a realistic skepticism of ivory-towered academics? Perhaps just poetic justice. In any case, I plead innocent to those who accuse me and my classmates of shirking public service for the higher salaries of private practice. In the booming Los Angeles legal market, top-paying jobs in private practice are easy for us to find. In public service, on the other hand, it's hard to find an indecent-paying job these days.

JOHN DENT

Los Angeles

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