So you want to do PI?

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Dec 31, 2013 2:54 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
twentypercentmore wrote:That said, I am loathe to say you should turn down any clerkship spot as a PI-seeking individual just because it will definitely not hurt your overall resume and is great for entry-level legal experience. And if you transition directly over to a PI spot, your year clerkship will count for LRAP.

Yeah, I totally agree that clerking really hurts anyone. If you have lined up some kind of entry-level PI gig without a clerkship, I would not recommend trying to get them to hold your job for a year so you can clerk, but otherwise I don't think it would be a problem. (And I could be wrong about getting them to hold you job, too - that's just my impression.)


you mean "clerking doesn't really hurt anyone"? :lol:

if you get accepted to a clerkship, isn't the protocol that you cannot turn a judge down? (even if you have a FTLT employer that would not hold the position for you for that year)

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Dec 31, 2013 3:25 pm

Oops! Yes, doesn't. :oops:

I actually have never had a judge demand an answer on the spot, and both would have been fine if I'd turned them down for other jobs. (As in, they told me this expressly.) But generally speaking, if you have the FTLT job lined up and you know they won't hold your job, you don't apply for clerkships. If you get the FTLT job that won't hold your job for a year after you've already applied to judges, you withdraw. And you can actually turn a judge down - some might get pissy about it, you might burn your bridges with that judge, but generally it's going to be fine. Sometimes you end up with more than one offer and you just have to turn someone down, and I'd never tell someone they should renege on the FTLT job just to keep a judge happy.

And honestly, if you interview with the judge and realize there's no way in hell you could spend a year with them, you can/should turn them down. OCS will say don't interview with a judge you're not willing to work for, but OCS's interests aren't always the same as yours, and sometimes you can't tell till you meet the judge. (I mean, there's more to the decision than liking the judge personally, but if you couldn't do it, you couldn't do it.)

Accepting with a judge and then reneging generally looks bad, though. Turning one down is understandable, but accepting, then reneging for something you'd like better would generally go over really badly. (But again, it's your life/career so you'd have to weigh the costs/benefits for you.)

Caveat: I'm sure there are some (elite, fancy) judges where in practice you really can't turn them down, but you probably wouldn't want to if you're ascending to those realms.

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sd5289
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby sd5289 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 3:37 pm

BlueLotus wrote:I did immigration 1L summer, but my 0L WE working with Latino communities thru an AmeriCorps program and later at a DV agency was a huge plus.


Whoa. We have a crazy similar work background. I also did AmeriCorps and spent six years doing DV work (more criminal than immigration though) before going back to school. My 1L summer was at a DA's office though.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Dec 31, 2013 4:20 pm

sd5289 wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:I did immigration 1L summer, but my 0L WE working with Latino communities thru an AmeriCorps program and later at a DV agency was a huge plus.


Whoa. We have a crazy similar work background. I also did AmeriCorps and spent six years doing DV work (more criminal than immigration though) before going back to school. My 1L summer was at a DA's office though.


I had thought about interning at a DA 1L summer, but I was told that legal aid (which is what I'm aiming for postgrad) tends to look down on prosecutorial experience. :?

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Dec 31, 2013 4:37 pm

Just fyi: clerkship offers will ALWAYS come before PI offers as a 3L. You only get a PI offer 3L fall if you have some kind of connection.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Dec 31, 2013 4:40 pm

I actually know of a PD's office that makes offers during fall of 3L. But even so, 99% of the time, clerkship offers will go out before that, yeah.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:06 pm

worldtraveler wrote:Just fyi: clerkship offers will ALWAYS come before PI offers as a 3L. You only get a PI offer 3L fall if you have some kind of connection.


don't some fellowships make offers in late fall of 3L?

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Dec 31, 2013 6:43 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:Just fyi: clerkship offers will ALWAYS come before PI offers as a 3L. You only get a PI offer 3L fall if you have some kind of connection.


don't some fellowships make offers in late fall of 3L?


Skadden does, so that affects about 15 people. Clerkship offers still come out before that though.

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sd5289
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby sd5289 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:37 pm

BlueLotus wrote:I had thought about interning at a DA 1L summer, but I was told that legal aid (which is what I'm aiming for postgrad) tends to look down on prosecutorial experience.


Yeah, I've heard that too. I'm aiming for DA, and they seem to like at least a sprinkle of defense experience, which I'm getting through my clinic this year (before going back to prosecution with the USAO this summer). I'm not entirely sure why so many PD offices look down on prosecution experience. It's good to have various perspectives IMO.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:44 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
sd5289 wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:I had thought about interning at a DA 1L summer, but I was told that legal aid (which is what I'm aiming for postgrad) tends to look down on prosecutorial experience.


Yeah, I've heard that too. I'm aiming for DA, and they seem to like at least a sprinkle of defense experience, which I'm getting through my clinic this year (before going back to prosecution with the USAO this summer). I'm not entirely sure why so many PD offices look down on prosecution experience. It's good to have various perspectives IMO.

Because many PD offices are staffed with true believers, who cannot imagine ever supporting our criminal justice/prison system as currently configured, and see anyone who could spend time as a prosecutor, i.e. someone who consigns people to that prison system, as insufficiently dedicated to indigent defense.

(I'm not saying I agree with them, but nor am I criticizing them for this belief; there are a fuckload of problems with our criminal justice system. Just a response to the question.)


Will having PD experience (or, for example, my having worked in a legal aid context with immigrants who have committed crimes/entered illegally) be looked at "suspiciously" by DAs? Or is the true believer mentality more on the PD side?

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:46 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:Just fyi: clerkship offers will ALWAYS come before PI offers as a 3L. You only get a PI offer 3L fall if you have some kind of connection.


don't some fellowships make offers in late fall of 3L?


Skadden does, so that affects about 15 people. Clerkship offers still come out before that though.


when do folks hear back from EJW?

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sd5289
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby sd5289 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:01 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Because many PD offices are staffed with true believers, who cannot imagine ever supporting our criminal justice/prison system as currently configured, and see anyone who could spend time as a prosecutor, i.e. someone who consigns people to that prison system, as insufficiently dedicated to indigent defense.

(I'm not saying I agree with them, but nor am I criticizing them for this belief; there are a fuckload of problems with our criminal justice system. Just a response to the question.)


Ah yes, the true believers. I've had a number of them in seminar courses. I definitely agree that there are many aspects of the criminal system that should be critiqued, and critiqued heavily. It may be that my work experience is entirely here in NYC, but I know plenty of prosecutors (and worked with plenty of them) who are aware of those problems and do their best to do the right thing. At the moment I can't think of an ADA I interacted with who fit the bill of "must win at all costs who cares about civil rights RARGH!"

On the flip side, I had the misfortune of being on the other side of a pissed off PD more than once during arraignments when I wouldn't change the ADA's offer and acted like I would love nothing more than to throw their client into Rikers myself (hello, legal intern here just telling you what the offer is...you think I've got control over this?). It got tiresome really quickly.

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sd5289
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby sd5289 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:03 pm

BlueLotus wrote:Will having PD experience (or, for example, my having worked in a legal aid context with immigrants who have committed crimes/entered illegally) be looked at "suspiciously" by DAs? Or is the true believer mentality more on the PD side?


Depends on where you are, but here in New York my impression is the answer is "no" and that experience is often looked at as a pretty good thing. Shows that you have a balanced perspective and won't just blindly go after every defendant that has the misfortune of coming in contact with you. You'll need to have an answer to "why DA and not defense?" though.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Gooner91 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:11 pm

yeslekkkk wrote:0L here. I'm interested in doing family law, immigration, or refugee law. Ideally, I would like to end up working in San Diego or at least somewhere else in California. I'm from there, went to undergrad in NorCal, did a service year in Nashville, and then moved back to San Diego.

I know typical thought is to go to T-14 or regional school. Unfortunately, it seems like there is not a lot of respect towards lower rank CA law schools.

To work in California, do you think it would be better to go to a T-14 (like U Mich) or go to a school like USD and network?


-
Last edited by Gooner91 on Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby midwest17 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:59 pm

sd5289 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Because many PD offices are staffed with true believers, who cannot imagine ever supporting our criminal justice/prison system as currently configured, and see anyone who could spend time as a prosecutor, i.e. someone who consigns people to that prison system, as insufficiently dedicated to indigent defense.

(I'm not saying I agree with them, but nor am I criticizing them for this belief; there are a fuckload of problems with our criminal justice system. Just a response to the question.)


Ah yes, the true believers. I've had a number of them in seminar courses. I definitely agree that there are many aspects of the criminal system that should be critiqued, and critiqued heavily. It may be that my work experience is entirely here in NYC, but I know plenty of prosecutors (and worked with plenty of them) who are aware of those problems and do their best to do the right thing. At the moment I can't think of an ADA I interacted with who fit the bill of "must win at all costs who cares about civil rights RARGH!"

On the flip side, I had the misfortune of being on the other side of a pissed off PD more than once during arraignments when I wouldn't change the ADA's offer and acted like I would love nothing more than to throw their client into Rikers myself (hello, legal intern here just telling you what the offer is...you think I've got control over this?). It got tiresome really quickly.


Meh. If you believe, as it is reasonable to do, that our current criminal just system is racist, biased against the poor, and ruins lives, then the comfort of some random prosecutorial intern wouldn't be very high on your priority list.

The point is that for some PDs, the criminal justice system isn't an academic problem to be discussed and critiqued. It's a force attacking their clients that needs to be stopped -- and they're the kind of people who can keep fighting even though they lose most of the battles.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby sd5289 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:08 pm

midwest17 wrote:Meh. If you believe, as it is reasonable to do, that our current criminal just system is racist, biased against the poor, and ruins lives, then the comfort of some random prosecutorial intern wouldn't be very high on your priority list.


Fair enough, but one doesn't need to be a dick about it to someone who has no control over what the case file says and is actually doing you a favor by coming over to the bar and letting you know what the offer is ahead of time before you and your client are up in front of the judge, so that you have a chance to actually talk to you client beforehand.

The point is that for some PDs, the criminal justice system isn't an academic problem to be discussed and critiqued. It's a force attacking their clients that needs to be stopped -- and they're the kind of people who can keep fighting even though they lose most of the battles.


"Critique" was probably not the right word, but it's clear that where PD's and ADA's differ is this "tear the system down" mentality that won't get the PD's or their clients anywhere. Something that some of the true believers seem to forget is that their clients might have actually committed a crime, and more to the point, those clients have done so far more than once. Yes, the system can be unfair, and yes, the system can even be misused/abused. But it's 100% naive to proceed as if every single defendant (or even a majority of them) is simply a victim of a system stacked against them rather than their own poor choices and/or intentional wrongdoing.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:56 pm

sd5289 wrote:"Critique" was probably not the right word, but it's clear that where PD's and ADA's differ is this "tear the system down" mentality that won't get the PD's or their clients anywhere. Something that some of the true believers seem to forget is that their clients might have actually committed a crime, and more to the point, those clients have done so far more than once. Yes, the system can be unfair, and yes, the system can even be misused/abused. But it's 100% naive to proceed as if every single defendant (or even a majority of them) is simply a victim of a system stacked against them rather than their own poor choices and/or intentional wrongdoing.

I guess I have two responses to this: first, at least in the federal system, criminal defense attorneys recognize that they're not going to get very far with their individual cases, because they know perfectly well that plenty of their defendants are guilty. A lot of times their strategies are intended to try to change the system, by hammering away at specific aspects of the law and trying to get them changed. So their approach is governed almost as much by collective strategy about what to try to change, as by the facts of the specific case.

Second, a lot of (most?) criminal defense attorneys don't care if their client is guilty; that's not the point. The point is to make the government prove the case fairly every. single. time. If the government can't prove the case within constitutional constraints, then it can't convict, no matter what the client's actually done. It's not that the PDs are naive. They just firmly believe that the prison system is not a solution, regardless of what their client has done.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby sd5289 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:09 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I guess I have two responses to this: first, at least in the federal system, criminal defense attorneys recognize that they're not going to get very far with their individual cases, because they know perfectly well that plenty of their defendants are guilty. A lot of times their strategies are intended to try to change the system, by hammering away at specific aspects of the law and trying to get them changed. So their approach is governed almost as much by collective strategy about what to try to change, as by the facts of the specific case.


I just finished a federal sentencing course, and largely agree with you on that front. It should also be interesting to see it in action this summer. The federal system was a completely foreign concept prior to that course because on the local level, there is nowhere near that degree of certainty in conviction of the top charge, nor is there a sentencing scheme that can be wacko at times. While I intend to be a local ADA to start, I could see myself becoming a federal PD later on down the line (unless, of course, my experience is "tainted" by the DA's office...).

Conversely, on the local level, PD's are exploiting the rapid-fire process to negotiate lower offers and ACD's, get cases dismissed on 30.30, etc. until their clients are arrested again and the process starts all over again. As they should be because that's their job. But that does nothing to "change" the system. I'd hazard the assertion that if anything, it just entrenches it and the revolving door that is the CRJ system on the local level.

Second, a lot of (most?) criminal defense attorneys don't care if their client is guilty; that's not the point. The point is to make the government prove the case fairly every. single. time. If the government can't prove the case within constitutional constraints, then it can't convict, no matter what the client's actually done. It's not that the PDs are naive. They just firmly believe that the prison system is not a solution, regardless of what their client has done.


Oh, that's fine. I didn't intend to imply that PD's should care (though I do, which is probably why I lean more toward an ADA over a PD even though I also firmly believe the government should have the burden of proving their case in every single instance). I made the point because this is what ADA's care about, and I think a lot of PD's would have a better understanding of why prosecutors do what they do if they could at least understand that concept. In my experience, which is admittedly anecdotal, there are more than a few PD's who absolutely refuse to even try. A little more of an attempt to understand the so-called "other side" would go a long way in the context of plea negotiates, proffers, etc. In the spirit of that line of thinking, I'm (genuinely) curious as to what alternative there is to the prison system for serious offenses (full disclosure: could care less about the kid caught with a joint or the turnstile jumper). How should the CRJ system treat offenders, aka: defendant proven guilty, who committed homicide? Assault with a weapon? Or how about a chronic repeat drunk driver who hasn't killed someone...yet? I've asked the PD hopefuls in classes this a number of times, but never seem to get an answer.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Tanicius » Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:28 pm

sd5289 wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I guess I have two responses to this: first, at least in the federal system, criminal defense attorneys recognize that they're not going to get very far with their individual cases, because they know perfectly well that plenty of their defendants are guilty. A lot of times their strategies are intended to try to change the system, by hammering away at specific aspects of the law and trying to get them changed. So their approach is governed almost as much by collective strategy about what to try to change, as by the facts of the specific case.


I just finished a federal sentencing course, and largely agree with you on that front. It should also be interesting to see it in action this summer. The federal system was a completely foreign concept prior to that course because on the local level, there is nowhere near that degree of certainty in conviction of the top charge, nor is there a sentencing scheme that can be wacko at times. While I intend to be a local ADA to start, I could see myself becoming a federal PD later on down the line (unless, of course, my experience is "tainted" by the DA's office...).

Conversely, on the local level, PD's are exploiting the rapid-fire process to negotiate lower offers and ACD's, get cases dismissed on 30.30, etc. until their clients are arrested again and the process starts all over again. As they should be because that's their job. But that does nothing to "change" the system. I'd hazard the assertion that if anything, it just entrenches it and the revolving door that is the CRJ system on the local level.

Second, a lot of (most?) criminal defense attorneys don't care if their client is guilty; that's not the point. The point is to make the government prove the case fairly every. single. time. If the government can't prove the case within constitutional constraints, then it can't convict, no matter what the client's actually done. It's not that the PDs are naive. They just firmly believe that the prison system is not a solution, regardless of what their client has done.


Oh, that's fine. I didn't intend to imply that PD's should care (though I do, which is probably why I lean more toward an ADA over a PD even though I also firmly believe the government should have the burden of proving their case in every single instance). I made the point because this is what ADA's care about, and I think a lot of PD's would have a better understanding of why prosecutors do what they do if they could at least understand that concept. In my experience, which is admittedly anecdotal, there are more than a few PD's who absolutely refuse to even try. A little more of an attempt to understand the so-called "other side" would go a long way in the context of plea negotiates, proffers, etc. In the spirit of that line of thinking, I'm (genuinely) curious as to what alternative there is to the prison system for serious offenses (full disclosure: could care less about the kid caught with a joint or the turnstile jumper). How should the CRJ system treat offenders, aka: defendant proven guilty, who committed homicide? Assault with a weapon? Or how about a chronic repeat drunk driver who hasn't killed someone...yet? I've asked the PD hopefuls in classes this a number of times, but never seem to get an answer.


Isolate the iredeemables, but humanely. The systems in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand have far more success reducing rates of reoffense than ours, and that includes serious offenses like murder. The most awe-inspiring thing about their systems is how they do not mistreat even the most hopeless sociopaths like Anders Breivik; they hold people like him, but not in a way that subjects him to danger from other inmates or the torture of solitary confinement. It costs much more money.

They also spend more money on what is absolutely necessary to prevent cycles of crime: social safety nets. Their rapists and murderers get treatment; their thieves and drug offenders get employment when they get out, as they should, which helps ensure they do not feel trapped and the urge to commit more crime. Until we put up the cash to adequately fund these kinds of programs, we are not morally entitled to treat our worst members of society the way we do.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:49 pm

worldtraveler wrote:I agree with most of it, but I think this pertains mostly to people wanting government. Non-profit/NGO hiring is quite different, and school rank can really matter.


this is true. it depends on the type of non-profit, though. school rank (+journal and grades) will matter a great deal for national, policy-oriented orgs (i.e. ACLU, SPLC, National Women's Law Center, etc.) but more "in the trenches" direct legal services employers usually DGAF about rank and prestige--in my experience, at least. My interviews with legal aid focused pretty much entirely on the quality of my volunteer/WE and language ability. Never been asked for a transcript or about my lack of journal.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby FlanAl » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:07 pm

don't know your school rank, but them not asking about that could have been a factor of how good your school is. I think honestly though, what you need for the deep in the trenches people is a good personality and luck more than anything. Interview when they know they have funding and get the interviewer to want to grab a beer with you and you could have gone to law school anywhere.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:40 pm

FlanAl wrote:don't know your school rank, but them not asking about that could have been a factor of how good your school is. I think honestly though, what you need for the deep in the trenches people is a good personality and luck more than anything. Interview when they know they have funding and get the interviewer to want to grab a beer with you and you could have gone to law school anywhere.


I'm just a T30'er tryna work in the trenches.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:34 am

Is having an Interests section on your resume as important for PI as it is for firms?

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby 0913djp » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:51 am

BlueLotus wrote:Is having an Interests section on your resume as important for PI as it is for firms?


I would say so. It certainly helped land me a PI gig in undergrad at a notable PI law organization.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:02 pm

0913djp wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:Is having an Interests section on your resume as important for PI as it is for firms?


I would say so. It certainly helped land me a PI gig in undergrad at a notable PI law organization.


nice! though i'm not sure i have any notable or unique hobbies, save playing an unusual instrument (which i'm rather rusty on now)




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