High Profile Public Interest -- law school prestige?

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chris0805
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Re: High Profile Public Interest -- law school prestige?

Postby chris0805 » Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:20 pm

*Bias disclaimer: CLS 3L*

I agree that CLS and NYU won't "exponentially" increase your chances of landing a job at a high profile PI law organization, but that's only because your other options (UM NW) are also really well respected schools. The point being, going to the best school matters as much or more when your goal is high profile public interest work (in my experience, however, "lower" profile public interest work also includes a lot of interesting and cutting edge legal work).

A few points

RESUME/EXPERIENCE
I think the opportunities in your city and at your school matter a lot. That doesn't mean you need to be in NYC, but it does mean your city, your school, and preferably both have options to get involved in your chosen field. I have a resume that only includes one pre-law school position, and it's not because I don't have other relevant experience. It's because there were so many great things I got to do in law school that are even more relevant. In fact, I have one internship and one externship that I just list under "activities" because I don't have room to talk about them. You don't need an amazing resume before you get to law school if you can build one while you are in law school.

HIRING/FELLOWSHIPS
As far as I know, no high profile public interest organization is going to hire ANYONE right out of law school for a staff attorney position. Instead, they "sponsor" fellows, meaning if you can secure a Skadden, EJW, or similar fellowship, you can work for the organization for free and Skadden/EJW/other fellowship pays you. After two years in one those, you might get hired, go somewhere else and come back, etc.

These fellowships are somewhat prestige oriented. That doesn't mean they only accept HYS students, but they do favor higher ranked schools. They also often like students who have clerked, which is also presitge oriented. Again though, the OP's situation is not that dire since there isn't a huge dropoff from CLS/NYU to UM/NW.

The one place where I suspect (i.e. I could be wrong, and interested people should look into this) NYU/CLS might have a significant advantage would be in school sponsored fellowships. I know that CLS sponsors three human rights fellowships (one at HRW) and has two high profile civil rights firms (one in SF, one in NYC) that reserve one spot for a CLS grad every year. There are also reserved fellowships for CLS grads funded by Kirkland & Ellis and Equal Justice America and one by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

CAwolverine
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:51 pm

Re: High Profile Public Interest -- law school prestige?

Postby CAwolverine » Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:49 pm

chris0805 wrote:*Bias disclaimer: CLS 3L*

I agree that CLS and NYU won't "exponentially" increase your chances of landing a job at a high profile PI law organization, but that's only because your other options (UM NW) are also really well respected schools. The point being, going to the best school matters as much or more when your goal is high profile public interest work (in my experience, however, "lower" profile public interest work also includes a lot of interesting and cutting edge legal work).

A few points

RESUME/EXPERIENCE
I think the opportunities in your city and at your school matter a lot. That doesn't mean you need to be in NYC, but it does mean your city, your school, and preferably both have options to get involved in your chosen field. I have a resume that only includes one pre-law school position, and it's not because I don't have other relevant experience. It's because there were so many great things I got to do in law school that are even more relevant. In fact, I have one internship and one externship that I just list under "activities" because I don't have room to talk about them. You don't need an amazing resume before you get to law school if you can build one while you are in law school.

HIRING/FELLOWSHIPS
As far as I know, no high profile public interest organization is going to hire ANYONE right out of law school for a staff attorney position. Instead, they "sponsor" fellows, meaning if you can secure a Skadden, EJW, or similar fellowship, you can work for the organization for free and Skadden/EJW/other fellowship pays you. After two years in one those, you might get hired, go somewhere else and come back, etc.

These fellowships are somewhat prestige oriented. That doesn't mean they only accept HYS students, but they do favor higher ranked schools. They also often like students who have clerked, which is also presitge oriented. Again though, the OP's situation is not that dire since there isn't a huge dropoff from CLS/NYU to UM/NW.

The one place where I suspect (i.e. I could be wrong, and interested people should look into this) NYU/CLS might have a significant advantage would be in school sponsored fellowships. I know that CLS sponsors three human rights fellowships (one at HRW) and has two high profile civil rights firms (one in SF, one in NYC) that reserve one spot for a CLS grad every year. There are also reserved fellowships for CLS grads funded by Kirkland & Ellis and Equal Justice America and one by the Center for Reproductive Rights.


Thanks for this insight--it's greatly appreciated.

GradPath2011
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Re: High Profile Public Interest -- law school prestige?

Postby GradPath2011 » Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:06 am

bump

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whitman
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Re: High Profile Public Interest -- law school prestige?

Postby whitman » Sat Mar 20, 2010 2:23 pm

I have a question. I am very interested in going to law school so that I can land a good, interesting PI job, preferably involved with environmental regulation, education reform, or human rights. My activities so far have reflected that (founded an organization at school, lots of community service, completed an Ironman to raise awareness and funds for youth homelessness, a year of community service work in California, and am working on founding a non-profit (we're currently filing the paperwork after having recruited a board of directors, etc).

My stats are bottom T14 material (3.5/172) and I would like to optimize my chances of reaching my career goals. Given those softs, which are probably about average unless the non-prof works out really well, does anyone have any advice for schools to shoot for? Observationalist, any idea on my chances of getting some money at Vanderbilt and thoughts on whether or not that school might be a good fit? I love Nashville and considered going there for undergrad but decided against it, so I'm not worried about the culture, school, area, etc being a good fit-I already know it is.

I guess I'm asking because I know that an ED might have a large impact for me, since I am a splitter, and I'd like some guidance in what might be ideal for a career in PI.

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observationalist
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Re: High Profile Public Interest -- law school prestige?

Postby observationalist » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:40 pm

whitman wrote:I have a question. I am very interested in going to law school so that I can land a good, interesting PI job, preferably involved with environmental regulation, education reform, or human rights. My activities so far have reflected that (founded an organization at school, lots of community service, completed an Ironman to raise awareness and funds for youth homelessness, a year of community service work in California, and am working on founding a non-profit (we're currently filing the paperwork after having recruited a board of directors, etc).

My stats are bottom T14 material (3.5/172) and I would like to optimize my chances of reaching my career goals. Given those softs, which are probably about average unless the non-prof works out really well, does anyone have any advice for schools to shoot for? Observationalist, any idea on my chances of getting some money at Vanderbilt and thoughts on whether or not that school might be a good fit? I love Nashville and considered going there for undergrad but decided against it, so I'm not worried about the culture, school, area, etc being a good fit-I already know it is.

I guess I'm asking because I know that an ED might have a large impact for me, since I am a splitter, and I'd like some guidance in what might be ideal for a career in PI.


I'd say it really depends on your aversion to debt and willingness to assume that federal loan forgiveness is going to either stay the same or improve over the next several years (my guess is stay the same, though apparently IBR will start getting better for the Class of 2017 if this healthcare bill passes.) It sounds like your question is Vanderbilt +$ (if they offer $) or T14 degree, in which case I would say it depends on your geographical preferences. I can tell you that all-around, Vandy's employment stats are now looking stronger than at least one and possibly two schools in the lower T14, which I attribute to the school's insistence on keeping the class-size small and keeping us geographically diverse. The other two schools (GULC and Cornell) are hurting from either being much too large to place everyone in this market or much too focused on one particular market.

That said, please do not take my assessment as being anything other than an educated assessment by a troll. I do not have access to other school's employment prospects because they are not transparent about releasing those stats, but what little has come out shows us outperforming our traditional rank in the pecking order. Federal clerkships are at an all-time high for us this year, which is a testament to Prof Bressman's diligence in running things.

I will say that UVA offers solid environmental prospects if that's where you're trying to go ED at. If you want a practicing attorney's perspective on UVA vs other law schools, contact someone at SELC and ask them for some advice. They're incredibly helpful and they do some great work in the southeast, and they're very familiar with hiring from UVA and to a lesser extent Vandy. The last I spoke with them they said that interning for a summer with SELC and then working for two years in biglaw put UVA grads in contention for full-time gigs. There are exceptions to the JD+2 years of biglaw rule in the public-interest realm, but you typically need a strong resume and work experience in that particular organization to make the cut. If you're looking at another region than the southeast, do the same thing: send short emails to attorneys at different organizations asking politely what sort of criteria they might want to see from someone coming from X school, and perhaps whether or not they have hired straight from law school. I know that nonprofits in NY will hire directly from Pace, but usually only for top students who have significant clinical experience. Despite their strength in teaching environmental law, the best advice for people with your numbers is to focus only on the top programs unless personal considerations make it impossible for you to take on debt.

Oh, for scholly's from Vandy, I would say that if you get accepted to a higher-ranked school but strongly prefer Vanderbilt, you stand a shot if you let them know and they like you. No idea ho much $ you can get but check out LSN and the other websites that track that info. G'luck.




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