Law Students Sign Petition, Plan Rally

About 500 Join Call to Restore Public Interest Counseling Office

Nearly one-third of the Law School's student body has called on Dean Robert C. Clark to reinstate the school's two public-interest counseling positions, a protest organizer said yesterday.

About 500 of the school's approximately 1600 students have signed a petition during the last week urging Clark to bring back the offices, according to second-year student Steven Donziger. Several student groups, including the Black Law Students Association and the Women's Law Association, have also endorsed the petition.

Clark decided during the summer to cut the public service program, which counseled students seeking "alternative career paths" in the public sector.

At the time, he said that the program, which is generally regarded as one of the major accomplishments of former Dean James Vorenberg '49, could be incorporated into the school's career placement service.

But several students yesterday took issue with the dean's reasoning, saying that the school needed a full time public service counselor.


"You just can't hire some generic lawyer to replace 20 years of experience," said Donziger. "Students require a degree of expertise a regular placement officer doesn't have."

"We feel we need someone who knows the national scene in terms of public interest," said Suzanne Groisser, a second-year student. "Clark wasn't fully aware that you need someone who's been out there a while."

Donziger, Groisser and about 10 other students met with Clark Wednesday to discuss his decision, and gathered afterward in the Harkness Common to plan a strategy to persuade the dean to restore the positions.

Among the steps discussed was a rally, slated to take place Tuesday, at which students will speak over an open microphone about the public interest issue and "about Dean Clark in general," said Donziger.

Clark will be out of town Tuesday, but Donziger said he would be given a transcript of the speeches.

Although no faculty members have stepped forward to join the student position, students have also suggested creating a student-faculty committee to demonstrate a broad base of support for the office's restoration.

"We want everyone from corporate to [radical]--we want a total base of support," said Suzanne Groisser, a second-year student.

Students said Clark was "receptive" to their opinions--especially when told that Ronald W. Fox '60, the program's director, had steered students toward government jobs and small firms. Clark stressed when he closed the office that he did not want the controversy to become a "we-them" dispute between corporate and public-interest law.

"He was very open to listening to our description of what we thought Ron Fox had done for students," said Barry Fisher, a member of the student group Alliance for Public Interest Law. "He was not open to restoring the position, but he was open to rethinking what he had planned."