So you want to do PI?

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JustHawkin
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JustHawkin » Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:54 am

This thread is great stuff, a good read for a slow day.

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:57 pm

In cycles past, TLS had a huge influx of posters that were asking on the Choosing forum, "I was admitted to Pepperdine on a full scholarship and Loyola on a 75% scholarship. I really want to do international law, and I know Loyola has a stronger program, so should I choose Loyola? PS, I refuse to retake." It led to some slightly more fanatical responses claiming that international law doesn't exist; which while perhaps helpful to some lost soul that needed to retake, is not especially helpful to those actually in a position to be able to pursue international law.

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girlmonster
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby girlmonster » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:07 pm

mr. wednesday wrote:International law generally exists obviously. When people say that international human rights law doesn't exist, they mean there are only a handful of jobs anywhere that fit that description and your likelihood of getting one right out of law school is incredibly, incredibly low.


For some of the "international law doesn't exist" posters, I think this is correct. But with the ultra-dismissive, automatic way some others respond, it gives the impression that they really don't think international law exists (outside of academia).

That said, posts like this make me wonder if I'm out of touch with the general population of IHR hopefuls. I constantly hear warnings that the field is highly competitive, explanations of the experience required to nail such a position, and advice that it's "not glamorous." Maybe it's because I have a background in the field, but all of that seems incredibly obvious to me. I know, even though I will be going to a T6 with awesome fellowship opportunities, have a demonstrated commitment to the field, and am dead-set on gunning hard for it all three years, there's probably a 90% chance I won't land a relevant position/fellowship immediately (or anytime soon) after graduation. I also know I'll be lucky to have a job at median income with zero "prestige." To me, it seems like the number of people administering their warnings and "reality checks" far outweigh the number of starry-eyed idealists I encounter who think the ICC is going to hire them because they have a J.D. and care. But maybe I'll encounter more of the latter in law school. I'm just a 0L; I don't know anything.

NYstate
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby NYstate » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:13 pm

girlmonster wrote:
mr. wednesday wrote:International law generally exists obviously. When people say that international human rights law doesn't exist, they mean there are only a handful of jobs anywhere that fit that description and your likelihood of getting one right out of law school is incredibly, incredibly low.


For some of the "international law doesn't exist" posters, I think this is correct. But with the ultra-dismissive, automatic way some others respond, it gives the impression that they really don't think international law exists (outside of academia).

That said, posts like this make me wonder if I'm out of touch with the general population of IHR hopefuls. I constantly hear warnings that the field is highly competitive, explanations of the experience required to nail such a position, and advice that it's "not glamorous." Maybe it's because I have a background in the field, but all of that seems incredibly obvious to me. I know, even though I will be going to a T6 with awesome fellowship opportunities, have a demonstrated commitment to the field, and am dead-set on gunning hard for it all three years, there's probably a 90% chance I won't land a relevant position/fellowship immediately (or anytime soon) after graduation. I also know I'll be lucky to have a job at median income with zero "prestige." To me, it seems like the number of people administering their warnings and "reality checks" far outweigh the number of starry-eyed idealists I encounter who think the ICC is going to hire them because they have a J.D. and care. But maybe I'll encounter more of the latter in law school. I'm just a 0L; I don't know anything.


I always thought the international law doesn't exist idea was in response to schools hyping their bogus programs in international law as a reason to attend.

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girlmonster
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby girlmonster » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:26 pm

NYstate wrote:I always thought the international law doesn't exist idea was in response to schools hyping their bogus programs in international law as a reason to attend.


Like "international law" as a discipline doesn't exist, rather than international laws or international courts?

Regardless, it's always been strange to me that so many people with no interest or experience in the field feel compelled (and even qualified) to comment on its current state.

Anyway, I feel like I'm threadjacking. Sorry, y'all!

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mr. wednesday
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby mr. wednesday » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:37 pm

girlmonster wrote:
mr. wednesday wrote:International law generally exists obviously. When people say that international human rights law doesn't exist, they mean there are only a handful of jobs anywhere that fit that description and your likelihood of getting one right out of law school is incredibly, incredibly low.


For some of the "international law doesn't exist" posters, I think this is correct. But with the ultra-dismissive, automatic way some others respond, it gives the impression that they really don't think international law exists (outside of academia).

That said, posts like this make me wonder if I'm out of touch with the general population of IHR hopefuls. I constantly hear warnings that the field is highly competitive, explanations of the experience required to nail such a position, and advice that it's "not glamorous." Maybe it's because I have a background in the field, but all of that seems incredibly obvious to me. I know, even though I will be going to a T6 with awesome fellowship opportunities, have a demonstrated commitment to the field, and am dead-set on gunning hard for it all three years, there's probably a 90% chance I won't land a relevant position/fellowship immediately (or anytime soon) after graduation. I also know I'll be lucky to have a job at median income with zero "prestige." To me, it seems like the number of people administering their warnings and "reality checks" far outweigh the number of starry-eyed idealists I encounter who think the ICC is going to hire them because they have a J.D. and care. But maybe I'll encounter more of the latter in law school. I'm just a 0L; I don't know anything.

I think this is exactly the attitude and plan you should have if you want to go into that area. But there wouldn't be so many fourth tier schools advertising their international human rights clinics if everyone had that attitude. I've personally heard people say they want to do human rights work because they love to travel and it'll be easier than getting a big firm job (ljl). I think on TLS there are less people who are totally unaware of the job market, but the mere existence of over 200 accredited schools with hundreds per school enrolling each year proves that the population at large is either unaware or still making poor decisions.

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:48 pm

For what it's worth, every classmate I have who attempted to get a job in international human rights has one. Every PI person interested in domestic work does not.

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midwest17
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby midwest17 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:00 pm

worldtraveler wrote:For what it's worth, every classmate I have who attempted to get a job in international human rights has one. Every PI person interested in domestic work does not.


Sample sizes?

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sd5289
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby sd5289 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:48 pm

girlmonster wrote:That said, posts like this make me wonder if I'm out of touch with the general population of IHR hopefuls. I constantly hear warnings that the field is highly competitive, explanations of the experience required to nail such a position, and advice that it's "not glamorous." Maybe it's because I have a background in the field, but all of that seems incredibly obvious to me. I know, even though I will be going to a T6 with awesome fellowship opportunities, have a demonstrated commitment to the field, and am dead-set on gunning hard for it all three years, there's probably a 90% chance I won't land a relevant position/fellowship immediately (or anytime soon) after graduation. I also know I'll be lucky to have a job at median income with zero "prestige." To me, it seems like the number of people administering their warnings and "reality checks" far outweigh the number of starry-eyed idealists I encounter who think the ICC is going to hire them because they have a J.D. and care. But maybe I'll encounter more of the latter in law school. I'm just a 0L; I don't know anything.


I agree with the general wave of "international law doesn't exist" of the tongue-in-cheek variety, but it sounds like you're already well aware of the realities of your job outlook right after graduation. I think a lot of people see "international law" and it leaves the same taste in their mouths as the "I want to do public interest law! *giggle*" proclamations. However, it sounds like (assuming you go), you should be looking out for both the post-grad PI fellowships (Skadden, EJW, etc.), as well as nonprofits that do work tangentially related. Get through the fellowship/time at the nonprofit, and start your attempt to transition out of your entry level job. You'll probably work in at least several different positions before you "make it" to where you want to be.

In short, be realistic about what you can actually do post-graduation (which is why in the PI world it's vital to pay attention to schollys, LRAPS, etc. so you don't go bankrupt in your first few years out), but don't think it's impossible to work your way up.

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:57 pm

Most outside fellowships (including Skadden and EJW) don't really fund IHR work, fyi. You're really limited to Yale or the Fulbright or your own school's funding. Maybe another foundation has one if you really search.

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:57 pm

To me, it seems like the number of people administering their warnings and "reality checks" far outweigh the number of starry-eyed idealists I encounter who think the ICC is going to hire them because they have a J.D. and care.


That's probably true for this thread, but sadly not true of 1) the general population and 2) even the rest of TLS (particularly new posters in the Chances forum). That said, the TLSers that are focused on biglaw often mischaracterize how PI hiring works with "it's more competitive than biglaw." Neither camp really takes the right approach, in my humble opinion.

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:06 pm

In applications for international law internships, I would say at least half that I see are just completely unqualified. Another 30% have a decent application but in an interview it becomes apparent that they really don't know what it is they are applying to do. Misconceptions are unfortunately really prominent.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:12 pm

twenty wrote:
To me, it seems like the number of people administering their warnings and "reality checks" far outweigh the number of starry-eyed idealists I encounter who think the ICC is going to hire them because they have a J.D. and care.


That's probably true for this thread, but sadly not true of 1) the general population and 2) even the rest of TLS (particularly new posters in the Chances forum). That said, the TLSers that are focused on biglaw often mischaracterize how PI hiring works with "it's more competitive than biglaw." Neither camp really takes the right approach, in my humble opinion.


the "it's more competitive than biglaw" view is not necessarily wrong. PD/DA/legal aid is extremely competitive, just a different kind of competitive, and the factors in the PI jobs game are clinics, intern/externships, public service experience, language ability, etc. BigLaw doesn't care if you're fluent in Spanish and Hindi and volunteer 10 hours a week at legal aid clinic.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:02 pm

worldtraveler wrote:In applications for international law internships, I would say at least half that I see are just completely unqualified. Another 30% have a decent application but in an interview it becomes apparent that they really don't know what it is they are applying to do. Misconceptions are unfortunately really prominent.


what do you count as completely unqualified?

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Jan 09, 2014 10:38 am

BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:In applications for international law internships, I would say at least half that I see are just completely unqualified. Another 30% have a decent application but in an interview it becomes apparent that they really don't know what it is they are applying to do. Misconceptions are unfortunately really prominent.


what do you count as completely unqualified?


no related experience, no language skills, no coursework in related classes.

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sd5289
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby sd5289 » Thu Jan 09, 2014 10:55 am

BlueLotus wrote:the "it's more competitive than biglaw" view is not necessarily wrong. PD/DA/legal aid is extremely competitive, just a different kind of competitive, and the factors in the PI jobs game are clinics, intern/externships, public service experience, language ability, etc. BigLaw doesn't care if you're fluent in Spanish and Hindi and volunteer 10 hours a week at legal aid clinic.


Yes, but I'd add that the "clinics, intern/externships, [and] public service experience" piece generally needs to be similar to (or at the very least transferable) to the PI position you're applying for. For example, a person with a wealth of criminal justice experience isn't necessarily a good candidate for a position helping low-income tenants avoid eviction. They may have the necessary skills to work with and talk to clients, but their specialized criminal law knowledge really doesn't help in an area like eviction prevention.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:33 pm

what is work-life balance and quality of life like in legal aid (civil)? i'd imagine the first year or 2 being hectic b/c of the steep learning curve, but how about mid-career?

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girlmonster
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby girlmonster » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:34 pm

mr. Wednesday wrote:But there wouldn't be so many fourth tier schools advertising their international human rights clinics if everyone had that attitude. I've personally heard people say they want to do human rights work because they love to travel and it'll be easier than getting a big firm job (ljl).

sd5289 wrote: I think a lot of people see "international law" and it leaves the same taste in their mouths as the "I want to do public interest law! *giggle*" proclamations.

twenty wrote:That's probably true for this thread, but sadly not true of 1) the general population and 2) even the rest of TLS (particularly new posters in the Chances forum).

worldtraveler wrote: Misconceptions are unfortunately really prominent.

Thanks for the insight, all of you! I honestly didn’t realize how prevalent these unrealistic expectations were. Selection bias is a powerful thing.

Worldtraveler, I'm curious about the relationship between these statements:
worldtraveler wrote:In applications for international law internships, I would say at least half that I see are just completely unqualified. Another 30% have a decent application but in an interview it becomes apparent that they really don't know what it is they are applying to do.

worldtraveler wrote:For what it's worth, every classmate I have who attempted to get a job in international human rights has one.

Do all of your IHR classmates fall into that 20% who are both credentialed and aware? Or have they managed to snag jobs regardless?

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:20 pm

I went to a top 10 school, so my classmates are not exactly typical of all applicants. Besides the prestige, given that what makes you competitive for IHR also often gives you great softs to help get into a great school, people from elite schools applying for international law and human rights jobs are really just in an entirely different position for the most part.

I have seen applicants from schools lower in the Tier 1 who have really good backgrounds (peace corps, internship experience, languages) but their schools also provide far less funding to do this kind of work during summers and after graduation, so they are at a huge disadvantage even without the prestige whoring of elite employers.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:55 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:In applications for international law internships, I would say at least half that I see are just completely unqualified. Another 30% have a decent application but in an interview it becomes apparent that they really don't know what it is they are applying to do. Misconceptions are unfortunately really prominent.


what do you count as completely unqualified?


no related experience, no language skills, no coursework in related classes.


so basically OCI strikeouts lookin for a "backup plan"? :lol:

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:11 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:In applications for international law internships, I would say at least half that I see are just completely unqualified. Another 30% have a decent application but in an interview it becomes apparent that they really don't know what it is they are applying to do. Misconceptions are unfortunately really prominent.


what do you count as completely unqualified?


no related experience, no language skills, no coursework in related classes.


so basically OCI strikeouts lookin for a "backup plan"? :lol:


Possible, but I also see this with 1Ls, so it could be people applying to anything and everything or people who legitimately want to be in the field but just don't have the background. I get a lot of emails begging to reconsider or people reapplying the next year, so it's definitely some people who are really interested.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Thu Jan 09, 2014 10:20 pm

twenty wrote:In cycles past, TLS had a huge influx of posters that were asking on the Choosing forum, "I was admitted to Pepperdine on a full scholarship and Loyola on a 75% scholarship. I really want to do international law, and I know Loyola has a stronger program, so should I choose Loyola? PS, I refuse to retake." It led to some slightly more fanatical responses claiming that international law doesn't exist; which while perhaps helpful to some lost soul that needed to retake, is not especially helpful to those actually in a position to be able to pursue international law.


Postgrad PD positions are supercompetitive too (just look at the prosecution/pd gunner thread come ejw time...total bloodbath) but no one makes absurd statements like "criminal defense doesn't exist". just irks me!

Looks like girlmonster has a firm head on her shoulders, and int'l law is a challenging, but feasible goal given her school/background/language ability. GL!

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mr. wednesday
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby mr. wednesday » Thu Jan 09, 2014 10:59 pm

BlueLotus wrote:what is work-life balance and quality of life like in legal aid (civil)? i'd imagine the first year or 2 being hectic b/c of the steep learning curve, but how about mid-career?

Totally depends on the office. I know plenty of 9-5 legal services people, and I know others that are constantly working late nights and weekends. I think the higher your litigation load is (actual cases, not advice), the less work/life balance you tend to have. But there are also less mid-career people to talk to because of emotional burn out.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:45 am

worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:In applications for international law internships, I would say at least half that I see are just completely unqualified. Another 30% have a decent application but in an interview it becomes apparent that they really don't know what it is they are applying to do. Misconceptions are unfortunately really prominent.


what do you count as completely unqualified?


no related experience, no language skills, no coursework in related classes.


So as someone in a position to hire people, what makes someone stand out to you from the 50% that are not completely unqualified?

it seems like everyone who legit wants legal aid PI is putting in serious pro bono hours thru clinics/externships, has foreign language proficiency, relevant coursework, etc.

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:52 am

BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:In applications for international law internships, I would say at least half that I see are just completely unqualified. Another 30% have a decent application but in an interview it becomes apparent that they really don't know what it is they are applying to do. Misconceptions are unfortunately really prominent.


what do you count as completely unqualified?


no related experience, no language skills, no coursework in related classes.


So as someone in a position to hire people, what makes someone stand out to you from the 50% that are not completely unqualified?

it seems like everyone who legit wants legal aid PI is putting in serious pro bono hours thru clinics/externships, has foreign language proficiency, relevant coursework, etc.


I place a lot of influence on the interview and a person's personality, especially if they will be in contact with clients. I try and look for people with exposure to a diverse variety of people or experience working with a particular region or group.

Personally I've had excellent experiences hiring Americorps vets so I put everyone with Americorps experience in an immediate interview pile. With Peace Corps, I think I've hired 10 Peace Corps vets into summer programs, and every single one has been a disappointment. I have no idea what the deal is or if we just get bad PC applicants, but I'm not alone in this viewpoint within the industry so PC isn't always a great thing to have. I'm open to placing them but now I really grill PC people on what they did during their program because it turns out that a lot of them didn't do anything, but I've never seen that be true of Americorps.

I also put a lot of emphasis on actual work product from clinics or work experiences. Everyone seems to have the same titles so I want to know how many clients they served or exactly how many memos they wrote. I see so many resume lines where people were really just a member and didn't do much, but other people have the same line but it turns out they were heavily involved. I ask for a lot of concrete examples of challenges they've faced in past jobs. In direct services I also give huge bonus points to people with experience working with sexual assault victims or psychosocial training in working with kids or similar skills.

I ignore grades for the most part, unless after glancing at it I see Cs and Ds.

I always try and test foreign language proficiency, since a lot of people who claim to speak a language can't really do it.

I also view military experience as a bonus. Most people really mature in the military, and when placing people in an international internship (I hire for one abraod and one domestic), military vets get a big boost because I know they can handle the conditions. When all things are equal, I also always pick someone with post-college experience of any kind over a K-JD just due to the difference in maturity.




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