Columbia Law backs its graduates after conservative judges said they won’t hire them

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Columbia Law Dean Gillian Lester backed the school’s graduates Tuesday after a group of conservative judges said they wouldn’t hire them following weeks of pro-Palestinian protests on the campus.

Lester said in a statement that Columbia Law graduates are “consistently sought out by leading employers in the private and public sectors, including the judiciary,” Reuters reported.

Her statement follows a letter signed by right-leaning federal judges that was sent to her and Columbia University President Minouche Shafik stating they would refuse to hire graduates after the school experienced pro-Palestine demonstrations that went on for weeks.

“As judges who hire law clerks every year to serve in the federal judiciary, we have lost confidence in Columbia as an institution of higher education,” the 13 judges wrote.

The judges said they would stop hiring from the school beginning in 2024 and the boycott was intended to “restore” academic freedom at Columbia.

Students on Columbia’s campus kickstarted a nationwide movement of students protesting the Israel-Hamas war and demanding their universities divest from Israeli companies or companies that supply Israel with weapons.

The demonstrations came to a head last week after hundreds of New York Police Department officers dressed in riot gear dispersed the protesters and evacuated those who overtook a campus building.

The judges wrote that it was clear that Columbia “applies double standards when it comes to free speech and student misconduct” because the university would have had a “profoundly different” response if the students protesting were an “uprising of religious conservatives.”

According to Reuters, Columbia’s law school isn’t a major feeder into federal clerkships and a majority of its graduates go into associated jobs at law firms. Just 21 of the 427 juris doctor graduates in 2023 went into federal clerkships, data from the American Bar Association said.

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