Public Interest 1L Summer

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Eruannon
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Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Eruannon » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:14 am

How hard is it to obtain public interest work during 1L summer? I know there are different levels of prestige among public interest firms, but how difficult is it to obtain employment (unpaid or paid) at an organization like the ACLU, an ACLU project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or Equal Justice Works? If this does not work out are there any mid-level organizations between PI non profits like these, and more community based projects. Correct me if I am wrong but I am assuming that obtaining work at one of the smaller community based organizations that can be found on http://www.pslawnet.org is *much* easier than at the larger organizations.

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enygma
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby enygma » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:11 am

Eruannon wrote:How hard is it to obtain public interest work during 1L summer? I know there are different levels of prestige among public interest firms, but how difficult is it to obtain employment (unpaid or paid) at an organization like the ACLU, an ACLU project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or Equal Justice Works? If this does not work out are there any mid-level organizations between PI non profits like these, and more community based projects. Correct me if I am wrong but I am assuming that obtaining work at one of the smaller community based organizations that can be found on http://www.pslawnet.org is *much* easier than at the larger organizations.


from my limited experience ACLU very very rarely takes 1Ls since they have 2Ls beating down the door to work for them. however I have a 1L friend who did well (not exactly sure how well, probably top 25%) at a T20 and is currently working for the EFF.

LoyolaLaw2012
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby LoyolaLaw2012 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:15 am

Eruannon wrote:How hard is it to obtain public interest work during 1L summer? I know there are different levels of prestige among public interest firms, but how difficult is it to obtain employment (unpaid or paid) at an organization like the ACLU, an ACLU project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or Equal Justice Works? If this does not work out are there any mid-level organizations between PI non profits like these, and more community based projects. Correct me if I am wrong but I am assuming that obtaining work at one of the smaller community based organizations that can be found on http://www.pslawnet.org is *much* easier than at the larger organizations.



I found a job at a non-profit this summer. I think the key is to look for a place outside the city limits. Non-profits can be competitive, so you might have more luck at jobs that require travel. Also, there are plenty of volunteer jobs that you can explore.

steph404
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby steph404 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:15 am

Definitely possible. A few years ago it would have been much easier, but now you have to deal with a lot of law graduates who are working for these non-profits during their deferments. But free help is usually welcomed, especially at mid/small organizations that are outside of the traditional city limits where you are.

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DavidYurman85
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby DavidYurman85 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:51 am

OP, it also helps if you have a background or something on your resume, either through work experience or ls activities, that supports your interest in pi or whatever advocacy organization that you're interested. you don't want to look like another law student who secretly wants bl, but is settling for pi.

depending on the location, aclu is extremely competitive. at least this is the case in dc.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:12 pm

A great many 1Ls do unpaid internships at PI orgs over the summer. However, you have to keep in mind that a lot of these things are not going to be considered very prestigious. There are a great many local community organizations that need legal volunteers; most cities have some kind of civil legal aid service that provides immigration, housing, domestic violence response, and child advocacy services to those who can't afford to hire a lawyer to solve their problems. This may not be considered very prestigious work, but it will 1) demonstrate your commitment to public interest, making it easier for you to find better PI work your 2L summer, and 2) give you real-world legal experience just as much (or sometimes even more than) the kind of places you think would be cool to work.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:17 pm

Most 1L summer work, especially now, is some degree of public interest. Most of these positions aren't prestigious and those that are, are difficult to come by.

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Eruannon
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Eruannon » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:00 am

Alright great, especially the part about the EFF. I have an IT background so that is good to hear. As far as showing commitment, would getting involved with some of the PI oriented groups on campus during 1L be helpful on the resume. Or would it be better to wait on these until 2L and use the saved time to study? Just not sure how much being able to show prior PI experience would help compared to class rank.

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worldtraveler
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby worldtraveler » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:26 am

Eruannon wrote:Alright great, especially the part about the EFF. I have an IT background so that is good to hear. As far as showing commitment, would getting involved with some of the PI oriented groups on campus during 1L be helpful on the resume. Or would it be better to wait on these until 2L and use the saved time to study? Just not sure how much being able to show prior PI experience would help compared to class rank.


A lot of PI places don't even look at your grades. I never got asked for a transcript and never got a question about grades. They do all care about experience and passion for issues, though. Are you talking about clubs or a 1L student-run clinic? If it's a club, no one will really care. If it's something like a worker's rights or immigration clinic you can join 1L year, you should do one anyway just for the practical experience.

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Eruannon
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Eruannon » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:46 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
Eruannon wrote:Alright great, especially the part about the EFF. I have an IT background so that is good to hear. As far as showing commitment, would getting involved with some of the PI oriented groups on campus during 1L be helpful on the resume. Or would it be better to wait on these until 2L and use the saved time to study? Just not sure how much being able to show prior PI experience would help compared to class rank.


A lot of PI places don't even look at your grades. I never got asked for a transcript and never got a question about grades. They do all care about experience and passion for issues, though. Are you talking about clubs or a 1L student-run clinic? If it's a club, no one will really care. If it's something like a worker's rights or immigration clinic you can join 1L year, you should do one anyway just for the practical experience.


I am talking about a clinic, and something that sounds like a clinic but is more of a research project, called the Prisoner Right's Research Project. It seems to involve working with actual clients though so I have the feeling this would show commitment as well. During college I did a lot of work with the Model United Nations so I didn't have very much extra time, and it looks like getting involved with groups like these is the best way to build up a PI resume, and gain valuable experience at the same time. Thanks for the help!

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Tanicius
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Tanicius » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:07 pm

Quite honestly I almost think that walking into a legal aid program and saying, "Can I help you guys this summer?" would be more impressive to a PI institution than interning with the ACLU. This assumes you're going to a school that programs like the ACLU target in the first place, but the point is that there's really no better way to prove you care about these issues than volunteering your time. I'm a rising senior in college right now, and what I did this summer was contact a clinic at a law school in my home state and ask them if I could help. I'm sitting in the clinic's office right now, at a desk that is overflowing with letters from prisoners who need legal representation for all kinds of problems. I believe this work is not only far more practical than getting coffee for ACLU attorneys, but it feels genuine to me -- I get to actually help people, and I believe in the work I'm doing.

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Eruannon
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Eruannon » Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:28 pm

Tanicius wrote:Quite honestly I almost think that walking into a legal aid program and saying, "Can I help you guys this summer?" would be more impressive to a PI institution than interning with the ACLU. This assumes you're going to a school that programs like the ACLU target in the first place, but the point is that there's really no better way to prove you care about these issues than volunteering your time. I'm a rising senior in college right now, and what I did this summer was contact a clinic at a law school in my home state and ask them if I could help. I'm sitting in the clinic's office right now, at a desk that is overflowing with letters from prisoners who need legal representation for all kinds of problems. I believe this work is not only far more practical than getting coffee for ACLU attorneys, but it feels genuine to me -- I get to actually help people, and I believe in the work I'm doing.


That sounds like a great experience, and a lot like what that Prisoner's Rights Project sounds like at Illinois, with some academic research worked in. I agree with what you said about interning with the ACLU probably being less hands on, but I do think that the work for the ACLU gets rewarding if you take on an actually associate position. Though I can still see the appeal in making a career out of working with a smaller organization; from my experience the bigger you get, the less time you get to spend actually working with people face to face, or letter to letter in your case.

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Tanicius
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Tanicius » Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:19 pm

Eruannon wrote:
Tanicius wrote:Quite honestly I almost think that walking into a legal aid program and saying, "Can I help you guys this summer?" would be more impressive to a PI institution than interning with the ACLU. This assumes you're going to a school that programs like the ACLU target in the first place, but the point is that there's really no better way to prove you care about these issues than volunteering your time. I'm a rising senior in college right now, and what I did this summer was contact a clinic at a law school in my home state and ask them if I could help. I'm sitting in the clinic's office right now, at a desk that is overflowing with letters from prisoners who need legal representation for all kinds of problems. I believe this work is not only far more practical than getting coffee for ACLU attorneys, but it feels genuine to me -- I get to actually help people, and I believe in the work I'm doing.


That sounds like a great experience, and a lot like what that Prisoner's Rights Project sounds like at Illinois, with some academic research worked in. I agree with what you said about interning with the ACLU probably being less hands on, but I do think that the work for the ACLU gets rewarding if you take on an actually associate position. Though I can still see the appeal in making a career out of working with a smaller organization; from my experience the bigger you get, the less time you get to spend actually working with people face to face, or letter to letter in your case.


In my opinion the valuable part of a position with something like the ACLU would be the connections you make. Part of my summer internship also involves working for a state COA judge, and I've been amazed by how open she's been to showing me around, introducing me to clerks and other judges, talking about her cases, letting me watch any and everything I want. Yesterday the Chief Judge of the MN COA walked into the room where I was working, sat down, and started talking to me about my law school and employment aspirations for no apparent reason other than that he heard I was new and wanted to chat. I know half the people in the Minnesota Justice Center now. If I end up looking for a clerkship here some day, I can't imagine it would be too hard to secure one.

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Matthies
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Matthies » Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:32 pm

Eruannon wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
Eruannon wrote:Alright great, especially the part about the EFF. I have an IT background so that is good to hear. As far as showing commitment, would getting involved with some of the PI oriented groups on campus during 1L be helpful on the resume. Or would it be better to wait on these until 2L and use the saved time to study? Just not sure how much being able to show prior PI experience would help compared to class rank.


A lot of PI places don't even look at your grades. I never got asked for a transcript and never got a question about grades. They do all care about experience and passion for issues, though. Are you talking about clubs or a 1L student-run clinic? If it's a club, no one will really care. If it's something like a worker's rights or immigration clinic you can join 1L year, you should do one anyway just for the practical experience.


I am talking about a clinic, and something that sounds like a clinic but is more of a research project, called the Prisoner Right's Research Project. It seems to involve working with actual clients though so I have the feeling this would show commitment as well. During college I did a lot of work with the Model United Nations so I didn't have very much extra time, and it looks like getting involved with groups like these is the best way to build up a PI resume, and gain valuable experience at the same time. Thanks for the help!


The clinical experience and research experience will help. But honestly your best severed by also getting OUT of school and meeting the people who actually work for these orgizations in the town you go to school in. being the VP of a club at school is fine, but does not beat knowing a person who works for the organization your are actually applying to. Research local groups of interest, sign up for their newsletters, check their websites often, donate your time at their events, make connections. Knowing the decision maker personally beats anything school related you can put on your resume, in that case you're just another faceless piece of paper competing against the same people you're in that club with for the same job. Standout by actually getting involved in what you want to OUTSIDE of school where you will meet the people who can actually do the things you want to do for a living and help get you the job you really want.

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Eruannon
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Eruannon » Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:09 pm

Matthies wrote:
Eruannon wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
Eruannon wrote:Alright great, especially the part about the EFF. I have an IT background so that is good to hear. As far as showing commitment, would getting involved with some of the PI oriented groups on campus during 1L be helpful on the resume. Or would it be better to wait on these until 2L and use the saved time to study? Just not sure how much being able to show prior PI experience would help compared to class rank.


A lot of PI places don't even look at your grades. I never got asked for a transcript and never got a question about grades. They do all care about experience and passion for issues, though. Are you talking about clubs or a 1L student-run clinic? If it's a club, no one will really care. If it's something like a worker's rights or immigration clinic you can join 1L year, you should do one anyway just for the practical experience.


I am talking about a clinic, and something that sounds like a clinic but is more of a research project, called the Prisoner Right's Research Project. It seems to involve working with actual clients though so I have the feeling this would show commitment as well. During college I did a lot of work with the Model United Nations so I didn't have very much extra time, and it looks like getting involved with groups like these is the best way to build up a PI resume, and gain valuable experience at the same time. Thanks for the help!


The clinical experience and research experience will help. But honestly your best severed by also getting OUT of school and meeting the people who actually work for these orgizations in the town you go to school in. being the VP of a club at school is fine, but does not beat knowing a person who works for the organization your are actually applying to. Research local groups of interest, sign up for their newsletters, check their websites often, donate your time at their events, make connections. Knowing the decision maker personally beats anything school related you can put on your resume, in that case you're just another faceless piece of paper competing against the same people you're in that club with for the same job. Standout by actually getting involved in what you want to OUTSIDE of school where you will meet the people who can actually do the things you want to do for a living and help get you the job you really want.


Are there many off campus locations in a little town? I am attending Illinois and its pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Is there any way to volunteer with a city organization by having work mailed to you (I don't own a car)?

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Matthies
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Matthies » Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:14 pm

Eruannon wrote:
Matthies wrote:Are there many off campus locations in a little town? I am attending Illinois and its pretty much in the middle of nowhere.


You are screwed than. Well see what is in Champaign/Urbana and see what you can do to get involved. people in PI orgs know each other, even if diffrent cities, geting a lLOR from a place you actually did something about how good/dedicated you are or even a letter of introduction to somome else at an org your applying to still beats just a resume

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Eruannon
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Eruannon » Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:17 pm

Matthies wrote:
Eruannon wrote:
Matthies wrote:Are there many off campus locations in a little town? I am attending Illinois and its pretty much in the middle of nowhere.


You are screwed than. Well see what is in Champaign/Urbana and see what you can do to get involved. people in PI orgs know each other, even if diffrent cities, geting a lLOR from a place you actually did something about how good/dedicated you are or even a letter of introduction to somome else at an org your applying to still beats just a resume

:lol:

I actually just found a pretty good looking organization that has a branch near the school http://www.lollaf.org/. Gonna throw them an email. Thanks for the advice Matthies.

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Matthies
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Matthies » Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:17 pm

Eruannon wrote: Is there any way to volunteer with a city organization by having work mailed to you (I don't own a car)?


yes, lots of stuff you can do online or from a distance. Get the Gurrila Tactics book by Walton there is a whole chapter about making contacts long distance. You could also start a blog about the PI work your intrested in to get your name out there. Send some letters to groups offering to do some free research for them. Again you need to be proaticve here, but all this will set you appart from the masses who have done nothing but say they want to work for the public good.

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Matthies
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Matthies » Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:19 pm

Eruannon wrote:
Matthies wrote:
Eruannon wrote:
Matthies wrote:Are there many off campus locations in a little town? I am attending Illinois and its pretty much in the middle of nowhere.


You are screwed than. Well see what is in Champaign/Urbana and see what you can do to get involved. people in PI orgs know each other, even if diffrent cities, geting a lLOR from a place you actually did something about how good/dedicated you are or even a letter of introduction to somome else at an org your applying to still beats just a resume

:lol:

I actually just found a pretty good looking organization that has a branch near the school http://www.lollaf.org/. Gonna throw them an email. Thanks for the advice Matthies.


That actaully looks pretty good, they even say they use law students as volunteers. Just take the time to format your e-mail and make it look good, remeber you only get one chance at a first impression, again that book I receond will help you here. Good luck!

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Tanicius
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Tanicius » Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:20 pm

Eruannon wrote:
Matthies wrote:
Eruannon wrote:
Matthies wrote:Are there many off campus locations in a little town? I am attending Illinois and its pretty much in the middle of nowhere.


You are screwed than. Well see what is in Champaign/Urbana and see what you can do to get involved. people in PI orgs know each other, even if diffrent cities, geting a lLOR from a place you actually did something about how good/dedicated you are or even a letter of introduction to somome else at an org your applying to still beats just a resume

:lol:

I actually just found a pretty good looking organization that has a branch near the school http://www.lollaf.org/. Gonna throw them an email. Thanks for the advice Matthies.


That program looks like a laughing stock.

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Tanicius
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Tanicius » Sat Jun 19, 2010 1:35 am

Tanicius wrote:
I actually just found a pretty good looking organization that has a branch near the school http://www.lollaf.org/. Gonna throw them an email. Thanks for the advice Matthies.


That program looks like a laughing stock.


Anybody? No one at all? No one thought the "lol" in the URL was funny? Well, it was worth a shot.

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Eruannon
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Re: Public Interest 1L Summer

Postby Eruannon » Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:54 am

Haha I will admit I did snicker.




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