So you want to do PI?

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Nov 30, 2013 8:54 pm

Thanks so much for this--solid thread!

I went to law school specifically to go into public interest. I'm more about "in the trenches" direct services work as opposed to policy stuff (i.e. ACLU, SPLC, etc.). I'm a T30'er who's thankfully graduating debt free due to outside scholly, merit aid, and family assistance. 2 years of work experience in a well-known AmeriCorps program and later working as a DV/SA advocate, trilingual, and have an extensive public service oriented resume. Worked at an immigration legal aid org last summer, and just got an offer thru EJW CCF to work at an LSC-funded agency. During 2L year, I am interning with a legal aid org assisting pro se litigants at probate and family court. Plan to do a yearlong clinic for 3L, while continuing to do outside pro bono work and networking by attending relevant CLEs and the like. Maybe pick up a 4th language this summer, lol.

In spite of doing everything I can to show commitment, I'm a little worried/curious about a few things:
-will lack of journal count against me?
-will an overall fine transcript but one particularly ugly grade marring it hold me back? i've not been asked for a transcript yet for any of my internships, but I'm assuming that employers would wanna see one for FTLT gigs?
-is moot court/mock trial important?
-how about clubs? not really much of a leader on campus.
-how important is school rank for these kinds of direct service positions?
-what should i do as a 2L to best position myself for fellowship apps? I did recently set up a volunteer gig for winter and spring breaks with an org I'd potentially wanna collaborate w/ for EJW. it's in the same city i worked 1L summer and where i'll be working this upcoming summer.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated!

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FlanAl
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby FlanAl » Sat Nov 30, 2013 9:07 pm

for the fellowships I'd just say to start thinking about them and working with career services on perfecting applications. Even though the fellowships don't really apply to the work I want to do (pretty hard to do a project oriented fellowship in a PD office) I thought about submitting a few applications. Ended up not submitting anything because the applications were too daunting and I didn't have my heart set on a particular project. I feel like if you start thinking about a project now and fall in love with an idea it will be a lot easier to slog through the application process etc. over this summer.

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sat Nov 30, 2013 10:29 pm

Honestly for fellowships go to the websites and look at past winners. There are a variety of backgrounds and isn't really one way to get there. It also varies. Grades REALLY matter for Skadden and EJW doesn't even ask for a transcript. The EJW application is also possibly the most annoying thing I've ever done, with the exception of maybe the bar exam.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:22 pm

worldtraveler wrote:The EJW application is also possibly the most annoying thing I've ever done, with the exception of maybe the bar exam.


lol. how so?

not even bothering w/ skadden. don't have dat PREFTIGE. :(

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:58 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:The EJW application is also possibly the most annoying thing I've ever done, with the exception of maybe the bar exam.


lol. how so?

not even bothering w/ skadden. don't have dat PREFTIGE. :(


Just take a look at this year's application. SO MANY ESSAYS

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:37 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:The EJW application is also possibly the most annoying thing I've ever done, with the exception of maybe the bar exam.


lol. how so?

not even bothering w/ skadden. don't have dat PREFTIGE. :(


Just take a look at this year's application. SO MANY ESSAYS


yeah, you're right. just saw the sample app. :shock: perhaps it might be a good idea to start brainstorming over winter break!

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:54 pm

FlanAl wrote:This is a really good primer for 0L's for sure but I just wanted to do a few quick bullet points.

Going to a t14 has some distinct advantages some have been mentioned others haven't but I'll just point out a few:

- Network: PI isn't the usual route for most t14ers but those that took it are eager to help out students at their alma mater.

- Guaranteed funding for summer internships: hustling is really important and a lot of it comes from meeting people from you summer internships. If you don't get an internship in your hometown and don't have funding to go somewhere else you can miss out. (I know people at lower ranked schools who had to take a regular job 1L summer because they couldn't afford to work for free.)

- Hustling: when you are networking etc. people ask you where you go to school. A lot of the people you'll talk to are older and of the mindset that t14 kids can just walk into a firm, to them you are hustling for the job because you want it and are dedicated to their cause, not because you need a job.

- Funding for callbacks: PI orgs do not pay for you to go to a second interview post EJW etc. but I know that many t14 schools have funding to help their students fly from Ann Arbor to SF for an interview etc.

- Funding after graduation: a lot of t14s have a solid amount of funding for post-grad fellowships to keep their employment numbers high. Many PI places will not hire you until bar results come out and being able to work for free between the bar and bar results can be pretty crucial for eventually getting a full-time position.

- 1L and 2L summer internships: If you don't have previous PI experience, when you apply for that 1L internship all you will have is your school name and your cover letter. When you apply for 2L internships the crucial thing will be what you did at your 1L internship.

- Career Services: most t14's have an office dedicated to public interest careers. Most t14's don't have enough people wanting to do PI to really warrant an entire office dedicated to it so as a student you basically get a private career counselor.

- Full-time Externships: I'm not sure, but other than Northeastern, I can't think of many school's outside of the t30 or so that let you spend a semester away from campus working full-time for school credit. Having another 10 weeks of full time experience under your belt before you graduate is definitely helpful.

- Class rank: really doesn't seem to matter at all for t-14 students. I don't know if it matters for kids outside of the t20 but all of the ones I interned with had journals, moot-court etc. that would leave me to believe that they were highly ranked and most of the t20 kids did not.

Overall I think that Hustling is probably the most important thing but being able to hustle with a lot of support from your school is extremely helpful. My only experience is with a rural public defenders office, a big city non-profit and a big city public defender. I am only a 3L and in the public defender job hunt now and could probably be more helpful once I actually have a job. Although that school on the resume might not be the main decision making factor it sounds like we're in agreement that your experience will be. In my opinion the better ranked school just makes it easier to get more of the necessary experience, especially if you go to law school with no experience or ties to the PI world.


My lowly T1 school has everything mentioned above, save for funding to attend 2nd round call backs. Don't think we have that, don't really know. But class rank is irrelevant, helpful network, externships, fellowships, helpful CS.. Yeah all the same.

"Prestige" only matters to people who value it.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:47 pm

worldtraveler, are you doing an ejw fellowship now?

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:06 am

BlueLotus wrote:worldtraveler, are you doing an ejw fellowship now?


I'm not. I had some problems with my sponsor and didn't end up submitting my application, so I'm doing a different fellowship.

I think with EJW and the other ones there is some kind of formula to getting the offer. They have a certain thing they are looking for and I don't quite know what it is.

One of the advantages of going to a PI dedicated, elite school is they often have a CSO who really knows what that formula is and how to structure applications. Also, if there are alums of your school who got one, ask them for help.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Dec 02, 2013 5:35 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:worldtraveler, are you doing an ejw fellowship now?


I'm not. I had some problems with my sponsor and didn't end up submitting my application, so I'm doing a different fellowship.

I think with EJW and the other ones there is some kind of formula to getting the offer. They have a certain thing they are looking for and I don't quite know what it is.

One of the advantages of going to a PI dedicated, elite school is they often have a CSO who really knows what that formula is and how to structure applications. Also, if there are alums of your school who got one, ask them for help.


yeah the director of public interest here was an ejw fellow. pre-crash tho. i'm sure it's wayyyyy more competitive now than in the early 2000s.

what's the acceptance rate?

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FlanAl
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby FlanAl » Mon Dec 02, 2013 7:08 pm

I've only interned with people from t14s amd t2's. I'm sure that there are a lot of t1s with the support that I mentioned above. This support seems uniform from the t14 though and the t2s that I got to talk to people about definitely didn't provide the support.

edited to say that after a quick search of the lower t14s and a number of lay prestige t1s, the t14s all guarantee funding for 1L and 2L summers with some offering more than the guaranteed amount. The t1s were mixed and all fairly unclear as to what was offered except for william and mary which said explicitly that although they had a lot of funding it was "competitive and there are more applicants than available funding each year". If someone has a lot more time on their hands they could systematically go through and see who offers guaranteed funding but anyways I think that its important and McDuff might have made people think it was available at every law school.

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:50 am

FlanAl wrote:I've only interned with people from t14s amd t2's. I'm sure that there are a lot of t1s with the support that I mentioned above. This support seems uniform from the t14 though and the t2s that I got to talk to people about definitely didn't provide the support.

edited to say that after a quick search of the lower t14s and a number of lay prestige t1s, the t14s all guarantee funding for 1L and 2L summers with some offering more than the guaranteed amount. The t1s were mixed and all fairly unclear as to what was offered except for william and mary which said explicitly that although they had a lot of funding it was "competitive and there are more applicants than available funding each year". If someone has a lot more time on their hands they could systematically go through and see who offers guaranteed funding but anyways I think that its important and McDuff might have made people think it was available at every law school.


Just slightly off topic, but the reality is hardly anyone chooses a lower ranked school over a T-14 without a hefty discount. So the 7k summer grants seem a bit strange to mention.

Why pay 225k at G Town to get a 14k summer discount when you can attend local school for total of 75k.. I'm sure your law school is fantastic, but I can't encourage people to buy a Ferrari on credit if all they need is a reliable car to get from A to B.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby midwest17 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:00 am

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
FlanAl wrote:I've only interned with people from t14s amd t2's. I'm sure that there are a lot of t1s with the support that I mentioned above. This support seems uniform from the t14 though and the t2s that I got to talk to people about definitely didn't provide the support.

edited to say that after a quick search of the lower t14s and a number of lay prestige t1s, the t14s all guarantee funding for 1L and 2L summers with some offering more than the guaranteed amount. The t1s were mixed and all fairly unclear as to what was offered except for william and mary which said explicitly that although they had a lot of funding it was "competitive and there are more applicants than available funding each year". If someone has a lot more time on their hands they could systematically go through and see who offers guaranteed funding but anyways I think that its important and McDuff might have made people think it was available at every law school.


Just slightly off topic, but the reality is hardly anyone chooses a lower ranked school over a T-14 without a hefty discount. So the 7k summer grants seem a bit strange to mention.

Why pay 225k at G Town to get a 14k summer discount when you can attend local school for total of 75k.. I'm sure your law school is fantastic, but I can't encourage people to buy a Ferrari on credit if all they need is a reliable car to get from A to B.


But that T14 probably has LRAP to go along with PSLF. So for someone going into PI, the summer grant is just more free money.

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FlanAl
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby FlanAl » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:09 am

LRAP is one thing the second is that hustling is like the most important thing. If you have to spend your first summer waiting tables because you can't afford to work for free somewhere you miss out on an entire summer of experience and networking. I said earlier that I'm just using the t14 as a distinction because all of those schools have the support. A lot of t1s have it too but you can't make a blanket statement about them. The best school would probably be one that you go to for free with a living stipend that also offers you all the financial support for public interest.

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:47 pm

midwest17 wrote:
Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
FlanAl wrote:I've only interned with people from t14s amd t2's. I'm sure that there are a lot of t1s with the support that I mentioned above. This support seems uniform from the t14 though and the t2s that I got to talk to people about definitely didn't provide the support.

edited to say that after a quick search of the lower t14s and a number of lay prestige t1s, the t14s all guarantee funding for 1L and 2L summers with some offering more than the guaranteed amount. The t1s were mixed and all fairly unclear as to what was offered except for william and mary which said explicitly that although they had a lot of funding it was "competitive and there are more applicants than available funding each year". If someone has a lot more time on their hands they could systematically go through and see who offers guaranteed funding but anyways I think that its important and McDuff might have made people think it was available at every law school.


Just slightly off topic, but the reality is hardly anyone chooses a lower ranked school over a T-14 without a hefty discount. So the 7k summer grants seem a bit strange to mention.

Why pay 225k at G Town to get a 14k summer discount when you can attend local school for total of 75k.. I'm sure your law school is fantastic, but I can't encourage people to buy a Ferrari on credit if all they need is a reliable car to get from A to B.


But that T14 probably has LRAP to go along with PSLF. So for someone going into PI, the summer grant is just more free money.


LRAPs are usually not as good as the government loan forgiveness program for PI, but please explain if I'm wrong about that. I'm aware the better the school, the higher the endowment, the higher the LRAP, but for whatever its worth a lot of schools have LRAP. Again though I feel like the ten year loan forgiveness program from the gov trumps every LRAP I've ever encountered save for a couple, which I do believe were T-14 programs.

I suppose for some applicants, Penn at 250k with LRAP and summer grants might sound better than Penn State for 60k, but damn if I want to be a DA in harrisburg I'm going Penn State every time.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:48 pm

FlanAl wrote:LRAP is one thing the second is that hustling is like the most important thing. If you have to spend your first summer waiting tables because you can't afford to work for free somewhere you miss out on an entire summer of experience and networking. I said earlier that I'm just using the t14 as a distinction because all of those schools have the support. A lot of t1s have it too but you can't make a blanket statement about them. The best school would probably be one that you go to for free with a living stipend that also offers you all the financial support for public interest.


Al edumacate me. My loans covered summer, is that not common?

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Tanicius
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Tanicius » Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:50 pm

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:
FlanAl wrote:LRAP is one thing the second is that hustling is like the most important thing. If you have to spend your first summer waiting tables because you can't afford to work for free somewhere you miss out on an entire summer of experience and networking. I said earlier that I'm just using the t14 as a distinction because all of those schools have the support. A lot of t1s have it too but you can't make a blanket statement about them. The best school would probably be one that you go to for free with a living stipend that also offers you all the financial support for public interest.


Al edumacate me. My loans covered summer, is that not common?


It is not common.

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midwest17
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby midwest17 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:52 pm

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:LRAPs are usually not as good as the government loan forgiveness program for PI, but please explain if I'm wrong about that. I'm aware the better the school, the higher the endowment, the higher the LRAP, but for whatever its worth a lot of schools have LRAP. Again though I feel like the ten year loan forgiveness program from the gov trumps every LRAP I've ever encountered save for a couple, which I do believe were T-14 programs.

I suppose for some applicants, Penn at 250k with LRAP and summer grants might sound better than Penn State for 60k, but damn if I want to be a DA in harrisburg I'm going Penn State every time.


All the T14 LRAPs that I've looked at have been combined with PSLF. So the government forgives your loans after 10 years, and for those ten years the school pays your loan payments (or part of them, depending on your income). Essentially you go to school for free + 10 years of PI work, rather than 10 years of IBR payments.

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:Al edumacate me. My loans covered summer, is that not common?


Aren't the COL estimates that max loans are based on based on 9 months of living expenses? How long they actually last you depends on how frugal you are, of course...

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

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:55 pm

If you register for summer credits (i.e. extern for credit rather than intern for free) you get loans over the summer. Of course, loans, not grants.

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:34 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:If you register for summer credits (i.e. extern for credit rather than intern for free) you get loans over the summer. Of course, loans, not grants.


This makes sense.

Also thanks for the info guy and gals.

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

Postby mr. wednesday » Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:37 pm

Here is what going to a T14 at full cost for public interest looks like:

1L summer, you work in public interest and the school gives you a stipend of $5000-7000 or so. Some people also find other grants, or AmeriCorps education stipends, or whatever. 2L summer, same story. Maybe you also make some money from your PI or gov't job, and usually you get to keep both up to an extent. Expect $5000-15000, depending on a few factors. You can also RA or intern during the term, and sometimes people get $1000-2500 or so for a semester in wages or other funding.

You graduate with $250k in loans. Hopefully you've taken out the bare minimum COL to survive. Best case scenario, you lived on the 9 month estimate for 12 months (or even less), minus the $10k - $25k or so you made throughout your time at law school. That barely makes a dent in the quarter of a million total but it still helps.

Add a $10k or so loan for bar expenses and living during the summer, because no firm is paying for you to take the bar. Maybe you can live with family or you have a spouse who is working. If you don't have that support, this money needs to cover your entire job search, which can last months or even a year. At a T14, this is where the launch grant comes in. You get $1k-2k a month for 9 months or so to survive on while you volunteer and apply.

Now, you hopefully start working for, say, $50k a year. You sign up for PAYE or IBR, and you are responsible for a monthly payment based on your salary. Your school LRAP pays all or a portion of your IBR payment, leaving you with little to no loan payment. If you get raises, every dollar you make increases your IBR payments and decreases LRAP's contribution to them, so in some situations you will be poorer with a raise than you were before. At some point, you may start making enough money that LRAP pays nothing, and you make your full IBR payment.

Continue for 10 years and then you apply for PSLF, and your loans are now gone. You will have a six figure loan balance for 10 years, including every time you want to buy a car or a house. If you leave your PSLF position before 10 years, you will probably owe more than $250k and will no longer be eligible for forgiveness or LRAP.

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:45 pm

If you are PI, you should actually take out extra loans or the maximum, especially in your last year. Your government loans can be forgiven. Bar loans usually can't and it is EXPENSIVE to take the bar. I was straight up broke by the time I got my first paycheck in October and I actually had to borrow $200 from a friend just so I had the money to commute to my job. I didn't get a bar loan because I had to pay it back and so I was using savings and just scraping together some funds. Seriously don't pass up loan funds that can get forgiven anyway.

Honestly, a lot of the conventional wisdom about financing law school, choosing courses, and basically everything is just backwards for what PI people need to do. What makes you competitive for Cravath is not what makes you competitive for a prestigious PI fellowship, and what is financially prudent for going into big law is not the same as going PI.

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:46 pm

worldtraveler wrote:Honestly, a lot of the conventional wisdom about financing law school, choosing courses, and basically everything is just backwards for what PI people need to do. What makes you competitive for Cravath is not what makes you competitive for a prestigious PI fellowship, and what is financially prudent for going into big law is not the same as going PI.


This is a big part of the reason why you really do have to be gunning for PI as soon as possible. The "strategy" for law school is very, very different -- doing the right thing for biglaw can easily mean doing the wrong thing for PI, and vise-versa.

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altoid99
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby altoid99 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 5:42 pm

I have a somewhat-related question regarding LRAPs. If your undergraduate loans are consolidated with your law school loans, does your law school provide assistance in repaying your undergraduate loans as well or do they only contribute to what you'd be paying only for law school loans?

Also, PSLF after 10 years and IBR after 25 forgives all federal loans and not just the ones for law school, correct?

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twenty
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Tue Dec 03, 2013 5:58 pm

altoid99 wrote:I have a somewhat-related question regarding LRAPs. If your undergraduate loans are consolidated with your law school loans, does your law school provide assistance in repaying your undergraduate loans as well or do they only contribute to what you'd be paying only for law school loans?

Also, PSLF after 10 years and IBR after 25 forgives all federal loans and not just the ones for law school, correct?


It's a gray area that likely varies by school. The school technically has the ability to tell you to bugger off when you consolidate, but if you consolidate your undergrad with your law school debt, the IBR payment should be the exact same. In fact, there might even be a case where you only qualify for financial hardship (and thus IBR) by including your undergrad loans.

Some schools explicitly mention outside federal loans will be covered if consolidated -- the one that comes to mind is Penn. Some schools explicitly mention that non-law loans will not be covered; Stanford comes to mind here. Harvard will cover up to 30k of outside debt. In practice, I would imagine programs tied to PAYE (everywhere except HYS, Cornell, and Columbia's 50k/yr plan) would probably allow you to, and those five exceptions would not.




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