So you want to do PI?

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
quijotesca1011
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:50 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby quijotesca1011 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:48 pm

Last edited by quijotesca1011 on Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

quijotesca1011
Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:50 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby quijotesca1011 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:49 pm

Last edited by quijotesca1011 on Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7667
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:08 pm

quijotesca1011 wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:Probably not an enormous difference, no. But what could make a big difference is retaking that 166 and getting much more scholarship money.

And it doesn't really matter the "prestige" of work you do in the next year. What is significant is time spent living in the region where you specialize. If you can use the next year to get fluent in another language, that is time well spent. Even teaching English somewhere just for the purpose of exposure to another language is well worth it.

I'm not sure what your exact interests are, but just as an example, tons of jobs in immigration/asylum work require fluent Spanish, but that is not hard to find. It's really become the norm. But a fluent Spanish and French speaker, or a fluent Haitian creole speaker really stands out. In almost every case, whoever has more languages will get the job unless that candidate is just truly terrible in other ways.



Sorry don't mean to push back but isn't the Good luck! Follow your dreams! somewhat irrelevant if I decide to go to Harvard? Simply because they don't give merit money?

The language fluency is a really good point well worth considering. On that note, what are your thoughts on study abroad during law school? My region of interest is Latin America. I speak working French (can translate French--> English but not in reverse) but have considered study abroad in France, and/or Brazil because I'm presently studying Portuguese and for LA that's obviously important.


I have no idea how merit money works at Harvard. But you could end up with a full ride elsewhere, which would be ideal. But if you have decided on Harvard, then yeah you're probably set.

I think externing abroad is a far better use of time than studying abroad. I think I know 1 person who studied abroad. Most schools allow you to spend a semester externing and doing an independent project for credit, and some people do this out of the country. That would give you a lot more flexibility of what you want to do.

If you really want to get better at French or Portuguese, I would look into deferring and spending a year in one of those places. Once law school starts, you have little time to focus your energy elsewhere. If you want to establish yourself as a regional expert, the more time spent in region, the better.

User avatar
mt2165
Posts: 508
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:58 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby mt2165 » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:11 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
mt2165 wrote:For me? A lot of reasons. Ideological obviously, I tend to think there are enough people willing to defend corporations for a pretty penny while there are whole neglected populations that deserve advocacy and legal representation (probably has a little to do w socio-economic background and being URM). Two lifestyle, I don't want to work 80 hours a week doing something I hate for money. Slavery (to the dollar) sounds overrated. But like you've said somewhere I'm still worried about LRAP's and sticker debt, not that it doesn't work as advertised but that it's just so limiting. I like to think I have a genuine and wholehearted interest in PI but if want I really wanna do is near impossible to get (not that there's other PI I I cant see myself doing). The debt is just really intimidating.


If you're going to work in elite PI you are going to work extremely long hours. You might not be a slave to the money but unless you take a full ride you will be a slave to PSLF. Think long and hard about what path you're taking.

I could be totally wrong here but it doesn't sound like you have a firm grasp of what you want to do or why. Getting any of the kind of jobs you're talking about really requires you to know those things. It's the first question asked in interviews and they really pay attention to the answer. Burnout is common too so unless you really want to be there, you probably won't last long and then you have debt and no firm job.


You're probably right, however much it stings. Such are the woes of being a KJD (which I think might motivate me to defer honestly). I think in my case taking the money makes more sense since I'm not sure exactly what I want. Regardless thanks for the insight.

User avatar
JCougar
Posts: 3175
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:47 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JCougar » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:20 pm

worldtraveler wrote:I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that the work you do at an "elite" PI place like the ACLU or an impact litigation firm is going to be extremely similar to big law. You will work pretty long hours. You will spend 90% of your time sitting at a desk researching and writing. A lot of your work will not be on the profound injustices of our time but on tiny little details of a case, or endless conference calls. Ironically, most people want to go into PI in order to avoid that kind of work. You're not going to avoid it, unless you do the "in the trenches" PI work with a PD/DA's office or legal aid.

My work isn't all that different from working at a firm. The hours are a bit better and I usually don't have crises on the weekends. But the vast majority of it is pretty mundane. Sure, I deal with questions of treaty interpretation instead of federal statutes, but that's really the same work and just has different words substituted. I spent 16 hours last week on a memo about how a French/English translation of a treaty missed the correct interpretation of one single word. It was really, really boring. I doubt this is what a lot of 0Ls think you will do at a prestigious PI job, but it's what you will do.


+1

Civil Rights Litigation is a ton of motion practice and writing up things like Complainant's Response to Respondent's Motion to Oppose Complainant's 22nd Discovery Request. And such. Your cases will go on for years, and the people on the other side of the v. are usually biglaw firms. So basically as much work as Biglaw puts in, you have to put in close to an equal amount of work responding to their BS motions, etc. It's not exactly the same, because civil rights firms are more efficient than Biglaw, but they also have less people to do the work. So the bottom line is that the hours are not good, and you're busy as hell.

Government, however, does seem to generally have better hours, although certain positions are exceptions. The reason is that government agencies don't live and die by the profits they make, so there's not as much of an incentive to see how many cases each associate can handle before they crack.

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7667
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:38 pm

JCougar wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that the work you do at an "elite" PI place like the ACLU or an impact litigation firm is going to be extremely similar to big law. You will work pretty long hours. You will spend 90% of your time sitting at a desk researching and writing. A lot of your work will not be on the profound injustices of our time but on tiny little details of a case, or endless conference calls. Ironically, most people want to go into PI in order to avoid that kind of work. You're not going to avoid it, unless you do the "in the trenches" PI work with a PD/DA's office or legal aid.

My work isn't all that different from working at a firm. The hours are a bit better and I usually don't have crises on the weekends. But the vast majority of it is pretty mundane. Sure, I deal with questions of treaty interpretation instead of federal statutes, but that's really the same work and just has different words substituted. I spent 16 hours last week on a memo about how a French/English translation of a treaty missed the correct interpretation of one single word. It was really, really boring. I doubt this is what a lot of 0Ls think you will do at a prestigious PI job, but it's what you will do.


+1

Civil Rights Litigation is a ton of motion practice and writing up things like Complainant's Response to Respondent's Motion to Oppose Complainant's 22nd Discovery Request. And such. Your cases will go on for years, and the people on the other side of the v. are usually biglaw firms. So basically as much work as Biglaw puts in, you have to put in close to an equal amount of work responding to their BS motions, etc. It's not exactly the same, because civil rights firms are more efficient than Biglaw, but they also have less people to do the work. So the bottom line is that the hours are not good, and you're busy as hell.

Government, however, does seem to generally have better hours, although certain positions are exceptions. The reason is that government agencies don't live and die by the profits they make, so there's not as much of an incentive to see how many cases each associate can handle before they crack.


I'm also just going to add that you will be doing the work of big law but without the resources of big law. You won't be able to send really dull stuff out to contract attorneys. You won't be able to afford thousands of dollars in west law fees. For some people this really is the right path, but on average I don't know if non-profit lawyers are much happier than big law attorneys. The majority of people I know in IHR are not happy people, partly because the job involves a lot of the stress and hours combined with boredom of a firm with really obnoxious stuff like donor reports and outcome metrics.

User avatar
BlueLotus
Posts: 2428
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:52 pm

I'd imagine PD would be close to BigLaw type hours in the beginning when you're still learning the ropes. Don't they handle on average several hundred cases at once? :shock:

User avatar
Tanicius
Posts: 2957
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 12:54 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Tanicius » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:23 pm

BlueLotus wrote:I'd imagine PD would be close to BigLaw type hours in the beginning when you're still learning the ropes. Don't they handle on average several hundred cases at once? :shock:


It can really vary. No one forces the first-year midos to work til midnight, but some of they as they balance their time-management.

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7667
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:25 pm

BlueLotus wrote:I'd imagine PD would be close to BigLaw type hours in the beginning when you're still learning the ropes. Don't they handle on average several hundred cases at once? :shock:


That isn't what I've heard from PDs, although I'm sure there is a huge learning curve. It probably also depends a bit on your office. And I know a lot of DAs who graduated in 2011 and 2012 and still get stuck on shitty rotations doing intake for night court and long hours. Not big law style long hours but also keep in mind that on a PI salary, you are not making enough to do time saving stuff that big law lawyers do, like have a maid, order all your meals, send out your laundry.

User avatar
BlueLotus
Posts: 2428
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Fri Apr 04, 2014 5:03 pm

The legal aid place I worked at last summer was 8-6ish. Is this typical of legal aid, or was the place I interned an anomaly?

Of course I'm willing to put in serious hours if there's a trial or major project coming up, but I'd prefer not to work Big Law hours on a regular basis for $35-40K!

User avatar
spleenworship
Posts: 4421
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:08 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby spleenworship » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:28 pm

BlueLotus wrote:The legal aid place I worked at last summer was 8-6ish. Is this typical of legal aid, or was the place I interned an anomaly?

Of course I'm willing to put in serious hours if there's a trial or major project coming up, but I'd prefer not to work Big Law hours on a regular basis for $35-40K!

In my experience, yes.

User avatar
Pleasye
Posts: 7967
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:22 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby Pleasye » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:38 pm

BlueLotus wrote:The legal aid place I worked at last summer was 8-6ish. Is this typical of legal aid, or was the place I interned an anomaly?

Of course I'm willing to put in serious hours if there's a trial or major project coming up, but I'd prefer not to work Big Law hours on a regular basis for $35-40K!

Yeah I think that's pretty typical. At the office I worked at it was like 9-6 and the attorneys would come in later on some days or work from home, etc. It seemed very flexible as long as they got their work done.

User avatar
girlmonster
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 10:46 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby girlmonster » Sat Apr 05, 2014 12:21 am

worldtraveler wrote:
quijotesca1011 wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
quijotesca1011 wrote:Are people entering with 1 year or less WE at a disadvantage in applying to internships/post-grad opportunities in PI/IHR in particular?
hell yes



to the point where it makes sense to consider deferring if that is a possibility? I didn't really want to take more time before school (been out of undergrad for a year and working abroad in my area of human rights interest) but recently have been questioning if I'm going to be at such a disadvantage that I should be concerned. Currently planning on attending HLS in the fall, interest in PI/IHR. Every summer in undergrad I undertook internships related to my interest abroad in my region of interest (undergrad scholarship made it possible) and all extracurriculars were in HR.


Are you fluent in some foreign languages? Have some connections in your field?

If you already have a job in IHR, I would seriously consider deferring and gaining some more experience, but it's also tough to say without knowing your goals.


What advice do you have for someone in an almost opposite situation? I graduated from undergrad almost 4 years ago, and haven't been able to study or work abroad because I've been taking care of family (I also haven't been able to afford a plane ticket, much less a plane ticket + living stipend). Now I feel like I should defer and try to somehow find my way overseas. The law school I'm attending is a T6 that provides summer funding for IHR positions and post-grad fellowships for public interest, but now I'm worried that this is nowhere near enough to even give me an appreciable boost. Should I try to find a position abroad at this point, or should I just focus on brushing up on my language skills at home? Also, I have a dog, which kind of hinders me from just flying by the seat of my pants.

Thanks again, worldtraveler!

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7667
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sat Apr 05, 2014 12:53 am

girlmonster wrote:What advice do you have for someone in an almost opposite situation? I graduated from undergrad almost 4 years ago, and haven't been able to study or work abroad because I've been taking care of family (I also haven't been able to afford a plane ticket, much less a plane ticket + living stipend). Now I feel like I should defer and try to somehow find my way overseas. The law school I'm attending is a T6 that provides summer funding for IHR positions and post-grad fellowships for public interest, but now I'm worried that this is nowhere near enough to even give me an appreciable boost. Should I try to find a position abroad at this point, or should I just focus on brushing up on my language skills at home? Also, I have a dog, which kind of hinders me from just flying by the seat of my pants.

Thanks again, worldtraveler!


First, not everybody in IHR spends a ton of time abroad. In fact there are some who spend their whole lives in DC or NY and rarely travel. They spend almost all their time in an office or meetings. I think those people are becoming more rare though, which they should because it's generally a bad idea to make decisions about a country you've never been to. They also tend to be older, and I don't think any current new hires are getting by with that. Anecdotally, of everyone I know who is lucky enough to work in IHR, we all spent a pretty significant amount of time abroad prior to law school and often during law summers as well. I can't think of anyone who stayed in the same place every summer either.

But, lack of extensive time abroad isn't always a disqualification. It does mean however that any job that requires "field work" experience is out unless you put some serious effort into spending summers abroad while in law school. You'd probably have an easier time looking for policy jobs or international law jobs in the really classical sense, where you work on treaty interpretation or reform.

The bigger problem you might have is that if you have family concerns keeping you grounded somewhere and a dog, that can be tough. It is really hard to predict where you will get a job, and it's not exactly an easy field if you have responsibilities to care for other people. My boss is actually taking a significant downgrade in position next month because she can't keep up with her responsibilities and care for her aging mom. Almost every NGO or gov agency requires some travel, but the biggest problem is that the jobs are so competitive that you really have to take what you can get.

I would say at minimum plan on spending 1L summer in your region of expertise. Doing an externship or a semester abroad might work too.

User avatar
girlmonster
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 10:46 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby girlmonster » Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:32 pm

Thanks again for the thorough response, worldtraveler! I know my law of international experience pre-law school is going to be a setback, but it's good to know it's not necessarily an automatic disqualifier from the work I want to do. I am definitely going to work and study abroad as much as possible in law school, although this of course means more time away from my family (it's probably best for everyone if I distance myself). I've already been planning out ways to have my dog cared for while I travel over summers and possibly semesters. Fortunately I work for an animal welfare organization now, so in a worst case scenario I can have one of my friends/co-workers take her in while I'm gone.

User avatar
BlueLotus
Posts: 2428
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:42 pm

girlmonster wrote:Thanks again for the thorough response, worldtraveler! I know my law of international experience pre-law school is going to be a setback, but it's good to know it's not necessarily an automatic disqualifier from the work I want to do. I am definitely going to work and study abroad as much as possible in law school, although this of course means more time away from my family (it's probably best for everyone if I distance myself). I've already been planning out ways to have my dog cared for while I travel over summers and possibly semesters. Fortunately I work for an animal welfare organization now, so in a worst case scenario I can have one of my friends/co-workers take her in while I'm gone.


Def go to EJW as a 1L and schmooze with the PalestineWorks people. You won't be able to interview until Dec. 1, but tabletalk will get you on their radar. Also, get in touch with the 3 (!) CLS kids who won the 2013 fellowship. GL!

User avatar
girlmonster
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue May 18, 2010 10:46 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby girlmonster » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:38 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
girlmonster wrote:Thanks again for the thorough response, worldtraveler! I know my law of international experience pre-law school is going to be a setback, but it's good to know it's not necessarily an automatic disqualifier from the work I want to do. I am definitely going to work and study abroad as much as possible in law school, although this of course means more time away from my family (it's probably best for everyone if I distance myself). I've already been planning out ways to have my dog cared for while I travel over summers and possibly semesters. Fortunately I work for an animal welfare organization now, so in a worst case scenario I can have one of my friends/co-workers take her in while I'm gone.


Def go to EJW as a 1L and schmooze with the PalestineWorks people. You won't be able to interview until Dec. 1, but tabletalk will get you on their radar. Also, get in touch with the 3 (!) CLS kids who won the 2013 fellowship. GL!


Thanks for reminding me! I just put it into my calendar, so I'll definitely be there. Regarding the fellowship recipients, how do I approach that conversation? I know it's really basic, but I don't know what to say.

User avatar
logicspeaks
Posts: 204
Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:38 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby logicspeaks » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:46 pm

So I'm attending USC and it's tough to get funding for a PI summer there. If I can't get the funding, how bad would it be for me to do a diversity SA position for my 1L summer just to keep my debt low?

I'm volunteering my 0L summer at a non-profit focused on housing and I plan on continuing to volunteer as much as possible through school to show dedication, but just one summer would help me out tremendously.

User avatar
logicspeaks
Posts: 204
Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:38 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby logicspeaks » Tue May 06, 2014 2:31 pm

Bump. In addition to the question above, if I focus almost entirely on housing PI (clinic, volunteering, externship) will that make me extremely competitive for something like HUD Honors? Or is landing a gig like that still just dumb luck?

User avatar
twenty
Posts: 3153
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby twenty » Tue May 06, 2014 3:20 pm

logicspeaks wrote:Bump. In addition to the question above, if I focus almost entirely on housing PI (clinic, volunteering, externship) will that make me extremely competitive for something like HUD Honors? Or is landing a gig like that still just dumb luck?


HUD Honors is definitely not dumb luck, but keep in mind that you're expected to be available for placement anywhere in the United States. I know you really want Los Angeles, so I might not gun for HUD Honors if I were you.

That said, if you were targeting LANHS or one of the legal aid societies and you just kind of stumbled upon HUD Honors because your work experience gunning cross-applied, that definitely wouldn't be a bad way to go.

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7667
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Tue May 06, 2014 3:27 pm

logicspeaks wrote:So I'm attending USC and it's tough to get funding for a PI summer there. If I can't get the funding, how bad would it be for me to do a diversity SA position for my 1L summer just to keep my debt low?

I'm volunteering my 0L summer at a non-profit focused on housing and I plan on continuing to volunteer as much as possible through school to show dedication, but just one summer would help me out tremendously.


If you can get a 1L sa you can hustle enough to find some summer funding.

User avatar
logicspeaks
Posts: 204
Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:38 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby logicspeaks » Tue May 06, 2014 3:38 pm

You two are the best. Thanks. :D

User avatar
BlueLotus
Posts: 2428
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue May 06, 2014 4:20 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
logicspeaks wrote:So I'm attending USC and it's tough to get funding for a PI summer there. If I can't get the funding, how bad would it be for me to do a diversity SA position for my 1L summer just to keep my debt low?

I'm volunteering my 0L summer at a non-profit focused on housing and I plan on continuing to volunteer as much as possible through school to show dedication, but just one summer would help me out tremendously.


If you can get a 1L sa you can hustle enough to find some summer funding.


Absolutely credited, worldtraveler. If your school does not provide funding for summer internships (although I'd assume a school of USC's repute probably would have some sort of public interest stipend program), be sure to apply to Equal Justice America. They partially funded my 1L and 2L Legal Aid internships. Last summer I also got funded by a minority bar ass'n.

http://www.equaljusticeamerica.org/Appl ... owship.htm

User avatar
logicspeaks
Posts: 204
Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:38 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby logicspeaks » Tue May 06, 2014 4:38 pm

BlueLotus wrote:Absolutely credited, worldtraveler. If your school does not provide funding for summer internships (although I'd assume a school of USC's repute probably would have some sort of public interest stipend program), be sure to apply to Equal Justice America. They partially funded my 1L and 2L Legal Aid internships. Last summer I also got funded by a minority bar ass'n.

http://www.equaljusticeamerica.org/Appl ... owship.htm

EJA doesn't fund fellowships at USC but I'll see if I can talk to someone about making that happen.\

At USC the funding isn't guaranteed and there are only ~25 PILF summer grants total, so I imagine 1Ls have a tough time landing one. I will do my best though.

User avatar
BlueLotus
Posts: 2428
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue May 06, 2014 4:49 pm

logicspeaks wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:Absolutely credited, worldtraveler. If your school does not provide funding for summer internships (although I'd assume a school of USC's repute probably would have some sort of public interest stipend program), be sure to apply to Equal Justice America. They partially funded my 1L and 2L Legal Aid internships. Last summer I also got funded by a minority bar ass'n.

http://www.equaljusticeamerica.org/Appl ... owship.htm

EJA doesn't fund fellowships at USC but I'll see if I can talk to someone about making that happen.\

At USC the funding isn't guaranteed and there are only ~25 PILF summer grants total, so I imagine 1Ls have a tough time landing one. I will do my best though.


Oh dang, didn't notice USC wasn't on that list. And 25 stipends total is pretty low. Kind of surprised. :|

I don't know what kind of minority you are (you mentioned 1L diversity SA), but def. hit up your minority bar associations, as they may offer stipends to students doing unpaid PI internships.




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest