Laurence Tribe's Advice on Law School

Lawrence Tribe is an American constitutional scholar and the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at the Harvard Law School. A longstanding proponent of liberal jurisprudence, in 2001 Tribe helped found the American Constitution Society a supposed liberal counterweight to the conservative Federalist Society and was long considered a possible Supreme Court nominee by a Democratic administration. Tribe received his A.B. in math from Harvard in 1962, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1966. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart from 1967-1968 and became an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard in 1968, where has taught ever since. A fierce critic of many recent Supreme Court decisions, Tribe has argued over thirty cases before the Court, including the infamous Bush v. Gore in 2000, and is the author of Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes, American Constitutional Law, and co-author of On Reading the Constitution (with Michael Dorf).  He is also a former Professor of President Obama and current supporter.

  • Transcript


Question: What is your advice to those thinking about practicing law?

Laurence Tribe: I think law is still a calling in which you can make a difference.  It’s one of the few ways that you can, if you don’t lose your soul, help make the world a better place; help make other people’s lives more fulfilling.  You can help to do justice.  There aren’t many professions in life where you can make that kind of difference.  You can also enjoy it.  I mean it’s actually fun.  It’s fun to be engaged in the kinds of issues that law generates, especially in this country where almost every cultural, social, political issue eventually takes the form of some legal question.  So that if you want to be engaged in life, have something to do where you will never be bored, as long as you don’t make the mistake of working at some massive law firm that will refuse to give you any meaningful responsibility . . .  Because if you’re careful about the path you take in the law, there’s really no more noble profession.  And it’s one that some people enter for bad reasons.  I mean if your reason to go into law is you wanna make a pile of dough and get your rocks off hitting other people in court, I would advise that you avoid it.  But if you think you could make the world a little better and have a decent life, it’s hard to think of a better way to achieve that.