So you want to do PI?

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:35 pm

Thanks, that was helpful, worldtraveler!

Is your opinion re: AmeriCorps v. Peace Corps prevalent in PI hiring in general? I thought Peace Corps was viewed to be much more impressive or prestigious, but as an AmeriCorps (City Year) alum I am pleasantly surprised by what you said.

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girlmonster
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby girlmonster » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:43 pm

BlueLotus wrote: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!


Awww, thank you! Your advice has been tremendously helpful. I'm definitely going to be hitting up you and the rest of TLS for a lot more guidance on this scary mission. :shock:

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:54 pm

BlueLotus wrote:Thanks, that was helpful, worldtraveler!

Is your opinion re: AmeriCorps v. Peace Corps prevalent in PI hiring in general? I thought Peace Corps was viewed to be much more impressive or prestigious, but as an AmeriCorps (City Year) alum I am pleasantly surprised by what you said.


I think there are more americorps people so that might be more prevalent?

PC is definitely more prestigious for government hiring and can put you on a faster track for federal jobs and I think also for JAG.

Honestly I think the big difference is that there are people who join the PC for shitty reasons or to "find themselves" and travel. Americorps gets people who really want to do that kind of work and don't give a shit about prestige, because that isn't exactly a prestigious position. A lot of them also work in direct services or legal aid positions, which is incredibly useful. PC has people digging wells sometimes, which isn't all that useful in legal aid. PC people are also on average fairly wealthy and americorps people tend to be from the middle class or lower middle class, from what I've seen. Certainly there are incredibly dedicated, excellent PC people but I think they tend to go more into international development work and not law school. I do know of two PC vets who now work at IHR NGOs, but both had Fulbrights and publications and all kinds of other credentials. The one big advantage they got from their service was fluency in another language (and I think one of them had that before she went.)

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:01 pm

girlmonster wrote:
BlueLotus wrote: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!


Awww, thank you! Your advice has been tremendously helpful. I'm definitely going to be hitting up you and the rest of TLS for a lot more guidance on this scary mission. :shock:


Happy to help, though i'm more domestic legal aid (family/immigration law) oriented than IHR. The vitriol towards international law on these forums is not directed towards folks like yourselves but rather monolingual K-JDs heading to TTTT/TTTs at full-price whose goal is to be some globetrotting war crimes prosecutor, lol.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:05 pm

So, for writing samples what should be the page limit if the employer does not specify?

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:21 pm

It probably depends a lot on the employer. And that gets down to a pretty specific requirement. I'd feel that one out -- maybe even call the office.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:28 pm

for those who did moot ct, how much of a time commitment was it? = to another class?
note: i'm interning ~20 hours/week

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JCougar
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JCougar » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:37 pm

mr. wednesday wrote:The only thing I would disagree with is that your school doesn't matter. I'm sure that's true in some places, but my agency doesn't look at anyone outside of the T14 (essentially) anymore because the economy is so bad, they don't have to. If you want to be in state/local gov't, though, the best local school with a near or full ride is your best bet.


Yeah, it depends on the agency. DOL Honors is harder to get than a lot of V50 firms these days. Same with SEC, etc.

Bottom line is that government hiring takes a far more holistic look at your resume, background, and pre-law school experience--but above all, dedication to PI/government work, especially in their field.

In average order of importance, I'd rank it:

1) Demonstrated interest (i.e. where you work your 1L summer, what classes you take, where you do your clinics, what professional groups/conferences you attend during law school, what societies you join in law school and whether you are in leadership positions or just there for the free pizza, etc., general hustle/networking in the field, etc.). For this, you'll have to know what you want to do pretty much before you decide to go to law school. They're NOT looking for people gunning for Biglaw but failed.

2) Pre-law school experience. Having 3-5 years of industry experience in the field of your agency is a huge plus.

3) Writing sample/jornal membership. Writing is one of the few things you do in law school that demonstrates real, actual skills you use as an attorney (unlike law exams). If you can get published or find a clinic/externship where you can file a brief, especially if it relates to the job's subject matter, it's a pretty big plus.

4) School rank. It still matters, especially with when the above three are equal. They're often not, though, as people from higher-ranked schools are steered toward Biglaw through their CSOs. Also, people from better-ranked schools tend to think they're too good for networking, etc., and that it's a TTT way to find a job. It's not.

5) Grades. Probably only matter as a tie-breaker if all the above are equal. Pretty much every government supervisor I've worked for openly mocked the idea that law school grades meant anything. Studies have shown there's almost zero correlation between law school grades and better workers.

I think most of the advice in this thread has been spot-on. Getting a government job is a lot more like getting a job in most non-law fields.

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JCougar
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JCougar » Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:00 pm

mr. wednesday wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:How important is moot court for PI jerbs? Aiming for legal aid here. I am already interning ~20 hours/week, so not sure sure I have the time to devote to it.

Meh. Always seemed pointless to me. Why pretend to play lawyer when you can work in an actual office that could hire you after graduation?


I asked an employer at a conference exactly this question...what should I pursue, moot court, or an unpaid internship in the field. He laughed and immediately said unpaid internship. I don't want to disparge those who put in long hours in moot court, but I think employers see practical experience as far more valuable. If you can do both, though, it's probably a good idea (especially if you want to do litigation).

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:23 pm

JCougar wrote:
mr. wednesday wrote:The only thing I would disagree with is that your school doesn't matter. I'm sure that's true in some places, but my agency doesn't look at anyone outside of the T14 (essentially) anymore because the economy is so bad, they don't have to. If you want to be in state/local gov't, though, the best local school with a near or full ride is your best bet.


Yeah, it depends on the agency. DOL Honors is harder to get than a lot of V50 firms these days. Same with SEC, etc.

Bottom line is that government hiring takes a far more holistic look at your resume, background, and pre-law school experience--but above all, dedication to PI/government work, especially in their field.

In average order of importance, I'd rank it:

1) Demonstrated interest (i.e. where you work your 1L summer, what classes you take, where you do your clinics, what professional groups/conferences you attend during law school, what societies you join in law school and whether you are in leadership positions or just there for the free pizza, etc., general hustle/networking in the field, etc.). For this, you'll have to know what you want to do pretty much before you decide to go to law school. They're NOT looking for people gunning for Biglaw but failed.

2) Pre-law school experience. Having 3-5 years of industry experience in the field of your agency is a huge plus.

3) Writing sample/jornal membership. Writing is one of the few things you do in law school that demonstrates real, actual skills you use as an attorney (unlike law exams). If you can get published or find a clinic/externship where you can file a brief, especially if it relates to the job's subject matter, it's a pretty big plus.

4) School rank. It still matters, especially with when the above three are equal. They're often not, though, as people from higher-ranked schools are steered toward Biglaw through their CSOs. Also, people from better-ranked schools tend to think they're too good for networking, etc., and that it's a TTT way to find a job. It's not.

5) Grades. Probably only matter as a tie-breaker if all the above are equal. Pretty much every government supervisor I've worked for openly mocked the idea that law school grades meant anything. Studies have shown there's almost zero correlation between law school grades and better workers.

I think most of the advice in this thread has been spot-on. Getting a government job is a lot more like getting a job in most non-law fields.


Re: #1, I thought the TLS wisdom was that club involvement doesn't mean shit, unless the club lets you do some sort of volunteering as a group (i.e. my immigration law group does monthly citizenship clinics with actual clients)

Also, is the above hierarchy just for gubmint jerbs, or does it apply to legal aid too?

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:50 pm

In addition, now that I'm in spring of 2L, fellowship season is fast approaching--what should I be doing now to best position myself for one? I realize that with budget cuts, entry level hiring at Legal Aid is practically nonexistent and that fellowships are pretty much the way to get your foot in the door.

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:48 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
JCougar wrote:
mr. wednesday wrote:The only thing I would disagree with is that your school doesn't matter. I'm sure that's true in some places, but my agency doesn't look at anyone outside of the T14 (essentially) anymore because the economy is so bad, they don't have to. If you want to be in state/local gov't, though, the best local school with a near or full ride is your best bet.


Yeah, it depends on the agency. DOL Honors is harder to get than a lot of V50 firms these days. Same with SEC, etc.

Bottom line is that government hiring takes a far more holistic look at your resume, background, and pre-law school experience--but above all, dedication to PI/government work, especially in their field.

In average order of importance, I'd rank it:

1) Demonstrated interest (i.e. where you work your 1L summer, what classes you take, where you do your clinics, what professional groups/conferences you attend during law school, what societies you join in law school and whether you are in leadership positions or just there for the free pizza, etc., general hustle/networking in the field, etc.). For this, you'll have to know what you want to do pretty much before you decide to go to law school. They're NOT looking for people gunning for Biglaw but failed.

2) Pre-law school experience. Having 3-5 years of industry experience in the field of your agency is a huge plus.

3) Writing sample/jornal membership. Writing is one of the few things you do in law school that demonstrates real, actual skills you use as an attorney (unlike law exams). If you can get published or find a clinic/externship where you can file a brief, especially if it relates to the job's subject matter, it's a pretty big plus.

4) School rank. It still matters, especially with when the above three are equal. They're often not, though, as people from higher-ranked schools are steered toward Biglaw through their CSOs. Also, people from better-ranked schools tend to think they're too good for networking, etc., and that it's a TTT way to find a job. It's not.

5) Grades. Probably only matter as a tie-breaker if all the above are equal. Pretty much every government supervisor I've worked for openly mocked the idea that law school grades meant anything. Studies have shown there's almost zero correlation between law school grades and better workers.

I think most of the advice in this thread has been spot-on. Getting a government job is a lot more like getting a job in most non-law fields.


Re: #1, I thought the TLS wisdom was that club involvement doesn't mean shit, unless the club lets you do some sort of volunteering as a group (i.e. my immigration law group does monthly citizenship clinics with actual clients)

Also, is the above hierarchy just for gubmint jerbs, or does it apply to legal aid too?


I completely ignore club membership, unless it is a club doing legal services or actually work. I also ignore leadership positions unless people actually explain what they did in a cover letter and it's important. If being the president meant organizing know your rights trainings in the community and recruiting lawyers to speak at the events, that is great. But 90% of the time clubs eat free food and talk about stuff. I think most hiring committees are aware of that.

Honestly, I don't think there is as much in common between PI/gov hiring as people think. Maybe government cares?

BlueLotus wrote:In addition, now that I'm in spring of 2L, fellowship season is fast approaching--what should I be doing now to best position myself for one? I realize that with budget cuts, entry level hiring at Legal Aid is practically nonexistent and that fellowships are pretty much the way to get your foot in the door.


1. Find your 2L summer job with someone who will sponsor you for a fellowship and has a great track record of getting fellowships. If you can't do this, go somewhere that will give you a great reference and let you do the kind of work you want to do for a fellowship. Make contact with a place that will sponsor you. Be careful who you select and make sure they are going to work with you on the application. If something seems shady or the organization has huge turnover, find another one. Maybe have a backup in mind. Most orgs make fellowship decisions in June/July so this might take months to finalize.
2. Start thinking about some kind of issue/population that will make a good fellowship app. If you have alumni who have gotten one, reach out to them. Talk to your CDO about ideas, unless they are useless. It should fit your own background and language ability.
3. Look at successful proposals from other years and find out what they like to see but also what is maybe maxed out. Also research fellowship options besides Skadden/EJW because there are some smaller less competitive ones.
4. Take enough classes now that you can have an easier 3L fall. 3L fall is awful for PI people and you will want to give up sometimes. There are SO MANY APPLICATIONS and they take forever. Don't leave writing huge papers or time intensive clinics to that semester.


And perhaps most important: look of letter of reference requirements. If you don't have enough good ones, get to know a prof or an internship supervisor ASAP and make sure they can write a decent letter. Make sure they don't write a letter like it's a character reference. I had a boss who wrote one for me that was just like "WT is a nice person. I like working with her." You do not want that.

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

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:30 am

worldtraveler wrote:Honestly, I don't think there is as much in common between PI/gov hiring as people think. Maybe government cares?

The first part of this may well be true. But I don't think government cares about clubs either - at least, not any differently from what you describe (if the clubs give you relevant experience, great, if not, who cares).

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:54 am

what is better for a writing sample--something for a class or internship? an interoffice objective memo or something filed with a court? unfortunately, all of the motions i've written thus far, though they have resulted in a successful outcome for my clients, are rather boilerplate and don't involve much legal analysis.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:12 am

Also, how possible is it for folks working in immigration legal aid to lateral into business immigration, or vice versa? I am thinking of firms like Fragomen.

I'm a 2L who has done humanitarian immigration work (U, T, VAWA, SIJ, DACA, asylum) with a variety of indigent legal aid orgs but with no significant experience on the corporate side.

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coldshoulder
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby coldshoulder » Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:47 pm

worldtraveler wrote:4. Take enough classes now that you can have an easier 3L fall. 3L fall is awful for PI people and you will want to give up sometimes. There are SO MANY APPLICATIONS and they take forever. Don't leave writing huge papers or time intensive clinics to that semester.



Is this when PI hiring starts? (as opposed to 2L OCI being the big one for SA's?)

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

Postby mr. wednesday » Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:54 pm

BlueLotus wrote:Also, how possible is it for folks working in immigration legal aid to lateral into business immigration, or vice versa? I am thinking of firms like Fragomen.

I'm a 2L who has done humanitarian immigration work (U, T, VAWA, SIJ, DACA, asylum) with a variety of indigent legal aid orgs but with no significant experience on the corporate side.

I've seen some business people move to humanitarian but not so much the other way. Though, I do have a friend who did PI stuff in law school, went to a small business immigration boutique after law school, then moved back into PI.

Fragomen can be a great place to start because they have more name recognition than just about anything in immigration besides EOIR.

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:59 pm

coldshoulder wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:4. Take enough classes now that you can have an easier 3L fall. 3L fall is awful for PI people and you will want to give up sometimes. There are SO MANY APPLICATIONS and they take forever. Don't leave writing huge papers or time intensive clinics to that semester.



Is this when PI hiring starts? (as opposed to 2L OCI being the big one for SA's?)


PI hiring is completely different. You will not start 3L with a job unless you have one through some connection. Your entire 3L year will be hustling for a job unless you are one of the fortunate few who gets a Skadden or DOJ honors and knows by December.

You can expect to be spending a ton of time your 3L year sending out multiple fellowship and job applications and most of them are incredibly time consuming. And given they take SO LONG to decide, you will have to do them all. One of my friends submitted a fellowship application in September and continuted to apply for anything and everything. She head in April that she got that original fellowship app submitted in April, so she had spent hundreds of hours on apps when she didn't need to. That's the way it works and it's really frustrating.

If you are planning on PI you really should plan on graduating unemployed. Some fellowships don't even tell you if you get it before you graduate. That's the way it is, and that's also why going to a school with post grad funding is a really, really good idea.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:33 pm

when do folks typically hear back from ejw?

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:37 pm

BlueLotus wrote:when do folks typically hear back from ejw?


As late as a full year after they apply. You may not hear by graduation.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:24 pm

Anyone have experience applying for EOIR? What are they looking for?

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JCougar
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JCougar » Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:43 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:Honestly, I don't think there is as much in common between PI/gov hiring as people think. Maybe government cares?

The first part of this may well be true. But I don't think government cares about clubs either - at least, not any differently from what you describe (if the clubs give you relevant experience, great, if not, who cares).


Clubs don't mean much by themselves, but it's just another way to signal that you're interested in a particular area of law. If you're founding and being president of a club and organizing events with speakers, it's a good way to network. I founded a club at my school and got to schedule some events and pick up some nationally-known speakers we were able to fly in from the airport, etc. A car ride is a pretty good way to network.

If you're not actively organizing stuff, though, I doubt anyone would care. But it's just another way to "pile on" and show you are really committed to a specific area of law.

pcthenls
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby pcthenls » Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:51 am

Hey all! Great advice on this thread, but I had to weigh in on the Peace Corps experience. While I am an 0L and not making hiring decisions at this point in my career, I was a PCV and know many fellow volunteers who served in my county and others. I was also chosen for a paralegal-type job among 500+ applicants at a boutique PI law firm (not bragging just making a point about the opinion of Peace Corps in my fīrm).

From my experience, anyone who joined the Peace Corps to "travel" or "find themselves" probably does not make it through training, let alone 27 months. If people only built wells, they were either not doing their job, or are not telling the full story. A PCV's primary work in every sector is to build local capacity in people via training and organizing, and linking community groups to resources within the country. The Peace Corps is an incredible learning opportunity for the volunteer, but also a huge benefit to the community served.

I do not wish to challenge your opinion of the Returned volunteers you met, but do want to provide a broader picture of the Peace Corps experience to anyone considering applying. The reality is you will not travel so much, you will gain maturity, will learn how to manage your work independently, and will gain fluency in one or several languages depending on your placement and investment in your local relationships. It is a hard job, and many people who are not prepared or invested do drop out.

Also, you are correct that many RPCVs go into development work or teaching. Many also take advantage of gov work and the peace corps grad school fellows program ( which does not include law schools, apart from two lower tier ones).

I hold great respect for Americorps volunteers I meet, and find that we usually have a ton in common besides sometimes our length of service and the soil we spent it on.

Just another perspective.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:21 pm

pcthenls wrote:Hey all! Great advice on this thread, but I had to weigh in on the Peace Corps experience. While I am an 0L and not making hiring decisions at this point in my career, I was a PCV and know many fellow volunteers who served in my county and others. I was also chosen for a paralegal-type job among 500+ applicants at a boutique PI law firm (not bragging just making a point about the opinion of Peace Corps in my fīrm).

From my experience, anyone who joined the Peace Corps to "travel" or "find themselves" probably does not make it through training, let alone 27 months. If people only built wells, they were either not doing their job, or are not telling the full story. A PCV's primary work in every sector is to build local capacity in people via training and organizing, and linking community groups to resources within the country. The Peace Corps is an incredible learning opportunity for the volunteer, but also a huge benefit to the community served.

I do not wish to challenge your opinion of the Returned volunteers you met, but do want to provide a broader picture of the Peace Corps experience to anyone considering applying. The reality is you will not travel so much, you will gain maturity, will learn how to manage your work independently, and will gain fluency in one or several languages depending on your placement and investment in your local relationships. It is a hard job, and many people who are not prepared or invested do drop out.

Also, you are correct that many RPCVs go into development work or teaching. Many also take advantage of gov work and the peace corps grad school fellows program ( which does not include law schools, apart from two lower tier ones).

I hold great respect for Americorps volunteers I meet, and find that we usually have a ton in common besides sometimes our length of service and the soil we spent it on.

Just another perspective.


I have wanted to do Peace Corps for a long time, but I am very uncomfortable about their spotty record in supporting sexual assault survivors. :|

This is random, but what to do when a higher up at a pro bono placement is trying hard to convert you? I have worked at religiously-affiliated legal aid orgs in the past (Jewish and Lutheran) and nothing of the sort has ever happened. It's annoying, but I realllllly don't wanna burn bridges, esp. ITE.

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sd5289
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby sd5289 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:32 pm

BlueLotus wrote:Anyone have experience applying for EOIR? What are they looking for?


I actually got pretty far with them through SLIP before I withdrew my application because the USAO just made far more sense than EOIR (sucked giving up the SLIP though). To get as far as I did in SLIP, I had a couple of years worth of immigration law (VAWA, U-Visa, T-Visa, adjustment of status, naturalization, etc.) and can honestly call myself "interested" in doing the work. So I think they're at least looking for prior direct experience as well as an articulate reason as to why you're interested in them. That seemed to get me through the door. But it's not my life's passion, which is why I opted for USAO over them.




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