Yale Law Suspends Recruiting Policy

School pledges to fight military

Yale Law School has temporarily suspended its requirement that all recruiters sign a nondiscrimination policy, but pledged Tuesday to fight to maintain the policy without jeopardizing roughly $350 million in federal funds.

Yale’s decision comes after both Harvard and Stanford bowed to a government ultimatum to let the military attend official recruiting events or else lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants.

Under a 1996 measure known as the Solomon Amendment, the Department of Defense has warned about 15 law schools over the past year that they will lose all their federal research money if they do not allow official military recruiting visits despite the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

In the face of a Monday deadline from the defense department, Yale will allow Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) recruiters to participate in its official fall interview program.

But Yale President Richard C. Levin said Tuesday that the school will seek “a determination of whether the law school’s current policy satisfies the legal requirements.”

Yale’s policy allowed the military to hold information sessions on campus and provided recruiters with the names and contact information for law students. Only the officially-advertised interview program—which takes place off campus—was reserved for employers that could sign a nondiscrimination statement.

Yale Law School Dean Anthony T. Kronman said in a statement that the university has told the military “it believes the Law School’s recruitment policy to be in compliance with the Solomon Amendment” and “it intends to seek an authoritative determination of the legality of this policy.”

But Yale so far has only committed to challenging the military through administrative channels with the defense department, a method Harvard tried without success before announcing on Aug. 23 it would allow the military an official place on campus.

Whether Yale will extend the fight to the courts remains unclear.

Extent of the Challenge

When Harvard Law School was debating whether to reverse its policy against military recruiting this summer, officials say the school’s administrators met with high-level civilian and military defense department officials and determined that the department would not back down.

“It was clear to us that the evaluation was not going to change within the short term,” says Kevin Casey, Harvard’s senior director of federal and state relations.

In previous years, Harvard Law School only allowed military recruiters to come on campus after an invitation from a student group and did not provide student contact information—a policy previous military reviews had found complied with the Solomon amendment.

But the defense department took a harder line with its evaluations last spring of Harvard and Yale’s policies.

Despite the failure of Harvard’s lobbying efforts, Yale has not lost hope that the defense department will agree to a compromise policy short of officially-sanctioned visits.

Kronman met with JAG officials in Washington last week and said his description of the military’s access to Yale students was “favorably received.”