Note: This post has been udpated.
I’ve been following the student-led activism against mandatory arbitration agreements with interest, as I know many people have. To bring everyone up to speed: An anonymous law student leaked the fact that a major law firm had attempted to force its summer associates to sign agreements requiring mandatory confidential arbitration of all employment-related claims, including those related to sexual harassment. The firm did this after the summer associates had already accepted their offers.
Once Ian Samuel broke the news of the agreement, the firm quickly changed course. Several other law firms followed suit, and announced that they would rescind their arbitration agreements as well. And law students at several schools began to organize in order to incentivize other law firms to do the same. Students at Berkeley successfully organized a petition that led the dean to promise them he would look into firms’ use of arbitration provisions, and whether and how the school should respond, including potentially barring employers from recruiting on campus if the employers require employees to sign some kinds of mandatory arbitration agreements. Students at Georgetown also organized a petition that collected an impressive number of signatures, and one of the organizers, Steve Schultze, announced that the dean of career services was receptive to their requests. (Nick Werstch and Rachel Lee also organied the Georgetown letter.)
Students at Cornell Law also have gotten together, and managed to produce an open letter (over spring break no less) that over 10% of the student body signed within 36 hours (the letter has more than 70 signatories, and the law school about 600 students). You can read a copy of the letter, which was organized by Victoria Inojosa, here. The Cornell students have also reported that their administration has been “receptive” to the letter and is talking with other law schools about next steps.
Of course, the schools haven’t done anything just yet. But that’s not for lack of effort by the students, and hopefully the various administrations will do something to honor their students’ faith in them.