Public Interest

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Burger in a can
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Public Interest

Postby Burger in a can » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:00 pm

I'm just a 0L, but I guess I wanted to hear some feedback from current law students or real lawyers. I am exclusively interested in public interest and government jobs (including local and state). I have no background in law, and I openly admit that I know absolutely nothing about how law school works. Do you guys have any advice about shaping my law school experience toward a career as, say, an ADA? Thanks!

smalltown
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Re: Public Interest

Postby smalltown » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:11 pm

A displayed commitment to service is a must. You need to show that you want to fight the good fight, whichever side of the fight you're on. Volunteer. If you're school has a public service pledge or program, get involved in that. Learn how to be a good trial lawyer, if you want to be involved in that. A lot of law schools don't teach you how to be a good trial attorney. You have to do mock trial, take clinics, intern with trial attorneys, those types of things. If there are trial advocacy classes, take those.

The upper crust of public interest is usually filled by the upper crust of law school graduates, just like any other field of law. But the bottom layers are filled by regional schools. There is also a misconception that people with shitty grades end up being public defenders or DAs by default. While they may not all have the best grades as people in corporate law, they don't need those grades. A lot of those people doing transactional work and mergers and acquisition would shit themselves on the spot if they were in front of a court defending or prosecuting a career criminal. So if you're interested in criminal law, concentrate more on being a good trial attorney, rather than getting top grades. Just get good grades.

Burger in a can
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Re: Public Interest

Postby Burger in a can » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:45 pm

smalltown wrote:A displayed commitment to service is a must. You need to show that you want to fight the good fight, whichever side of the fight you're on. Volunteer. If you're school has a public service pledge or program, get involved in that. Learn how to be a good trial lawyer, if you want to be involved in that. A lot of law schools don't teach you how to be a good trial attorney. You have to do mock trial, take clinics, intern with trial attorneys, those types of things. If there are trial advocacy classes, take those.

The upper crust of public interest is usually filled by the upper crust of law school graduates, just like any other field of law. But the bottom layers are filled by regional schools. There is also a misconception that people with shitty grades end up being public defenders or DAs by default. While they may not all have the best grades as people in corporate law, they don't need those grades. A lot of those people doing transactional work and mergers and acquisition would shit themselves on the spot if they were in front of a court defending or prosecuting a career criminal. So if you're interested in criminal law, concentrate more on being a good trial attorney, rather than getting top grades. Just get good grades.


Thanks for taking the time to answer me. Sounds like great advice!

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randyn
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Re: Public Interest

Postby randyn » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:56 pm

get the best grades you can. There are amazing high level PI jobs.

Burger in a can
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Re: Public Interest

Postby Burger in a can » Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:03 pm

randyn wrote:get the best grades you can. There are amazing high level PI jobs.


Thanks. I'm a little confused because smalltown said to focus more on getting the best trial preparation I can in leu of obsessing over grades. What do you mean by "high level"? Aren't you also a 0L?

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randyn
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Re: Public Interest

Postby randyn » Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:09 pm

Burger in a can wrote:
randyn wrote:get the best grades you can. There are amazing high level PI jobs.


Thanks. I'm a little confused because smalltown said to focus more on getting the best trial preparation I can in leu of obsessing over grades. What do you mean by "high level"? Aren't you also a 0L?



Yes I am a 0L. IF you want to be succesful in Law you should be able to focus on both aspects. Example of good public interest jobs are national agencies, DOJ, FBI, Military etc.

smalltown
Posts: 82
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Re: Public Interest

Postby smalltown » Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:51 am

To clear things up, there is absolutely no doubt that the top-level PI jobs require good grades. But the simple fact is that ain't going to happen for everybody. And the other simple fact is that top-level PI jobs aren't the only fascinating jobs out there. It would be great if you could get top grades and have the time to commit to working on practical trial work. But, again, that ain't going to happen for everybody. Something will likely have to give. And being successful in law school and successful in law can be very independent things, especially when you are talking about trial work.

And graduating without top grades - and a top-level PI job - doesn't mean you can't have a very fulfilling and rewarding career in public interest. There are people all over this country who need help. The ACLU and the DOJ can't - and sometimes won't - help them. I would never tell anyone not to shoot for the top. But I would always tell anyone who may not hit the top that they shouldn't give up on public interest. It's easier to fight the good fight when you're working for the DOJ or FBI or a major environmental advocacy group. But it's harder to work for the people of your local community when it may not be the most lucrative or thrilling work. That's where the commitment really happens.

Another important thing to remember is that the major advocacy groups - ACLU, WWF, NARF - often deal with overarching legal policy. They don't often work with people on the ground level. They still do fantastic work, and we're all better for the work they do. It's just a different kind of work. If you want to interact with clients on a day-to-day basis, you may want to look at some of the more local PI work.

Bottom line, always try to get good grades. There's no reason not to, and everyone who goes to law school is programmed to strive for perfection. But sometimes other career-advancing activities are worthy enough to take precedence over grades. For those PI jobs that don't deal with trial work, and are on a national or international level, those grades are going to be what they look at. But if you walk into a DA or PD's office after your third year and show them your A in contracts, without much trial experience, they'll likely pat you on the back and tell you good job before showing you the door.

And as a general rule, take everything on this site with a rather large grain of salt. There are people here who mostly have no experience with actually going to law school, and even fewer who have any experience beyond that. The best advice is to find some people in your community who are experienced attorneys and ask them in person. Most are very helpful.

Good luck.

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Brawndo
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Re: Public Interest

Postby Brawndo » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:12 am

Few 1Ls at my school are interested in public interest or government

Everyone wants to be rollin' deep in fat stacks. A guy in my section already bought a BMW 5-series

Burger in a can
Posts: 1116
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:21 pm

Re: Public Interest

Postby Burger in a can » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:19 am

smalltown wrote:To clear things up, there is absolutely no doubt that the top-level PI jobs require good grades. But the simple fact is that ain't going to happen for everybody. And the other simple fact is that top-level PI jobs aren't the only fascinating jobs out there. It would be great if you could get top grades and have the time to commit to working on practical trial work. But, again, that ain't going to happen for everybody. Something will likely have to give. And being successful in law school and successful in law can be very independent things, especially when you are talking about trial work.

And graduating without top grades - and a top-level PI job - doesn't mean you can't have a very fulfilling and rewarding career in public interest. There are people all over this country who need help. The ACLU and the DOJ can't - and sometimes won't - help them. I would never tell anyone not to shoot for the top. But I would always tell anyone who may not hit the top that they shouldn't give up on public interest. It's easier to fight the good fight when you're working for the DOJ or FBI or a major environmental advocacy group. But it's harder to work for the people of your local community when it may not be the most lucrative or thrilling work. That's where the commitment really happens.

Another important thing to remember is that the major advocacy groups - ACLU, WWF, NARF - often deal with overarching legal policy. They don't often work with people on the ground level. They still do fantastic work, and we're all better for the work they do. It's just a different kind of work. If you want to interact with clients on a day-to-day basis, you may want to look at some of the more local PI work.

Bottom line, always try to get good grades. There's no reason not to, and everyone who goes to law school is programmed to strive for perfection. But sometimes other career-advancing activities are worthy enough to take precedence over grades. For those PI jobs that don't deal with trial work, and are on a national or international level, those grades are going to be what they look at. But if you walk into a DA or PD's office after your third year and show them your A in contracts, without much trial experience, they'll likely pat you on the back and tell you good job before showing you the door.

And as a general rule, take everything on this site with a rather large grain of salt. There are people here who mostly have no experience with actually going to law school, and even fewer who have any experience beyond that. The best advice is to find some people in your community who are experienced attorneys and ask them in person. Most are very helpful.

Good luck.


Thanks. This is helpful. Believe it or not, I am actually less interested in "top-level" PI jobs and more attracted to working at a local level. It's funny how everyone on TLS (and, I guess, plenty of folks outside of TLS) assume that if someone actually WANTS a PI job, they must only want to work for the DOJ or some other big, flashy federal department. :)

PS: thanks for saying the bolded, so I didn't have to. wink wink

articulably suspect
Posts: 304
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:01 am

Re: Public Interest

Postby articulably suspect » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:25 am

smalltown wrote:A displayed commitment to service is a must. You need to show that you want to fight the good fight, whichever side of the fight you're on. Volunteer. If you're school has a public service pledge or program, get involved in that. Learn how to be a good trial lawyer, if you want to be involved in that. A lot of law schools don't teach you how to be a good trial attorney. You have to do mock trial, take clinics, intern with trial attorneys, those types of things. If there are trial advocacy classes, take those.

The upper crust of public interest is usually filled by the upper crust of law school graduates, just like any other field of law. But the bottom layers are filled by regional schools. There is also a misconception that people with shitty grades end up being public defenders or DAs by default. While they may not all have the best grades as people in corporate law, they don't need those grades. A lot of those people doing transactional work and mergers and acquisition would shit themselves on the spot if they were in front of a court defending or prosecuting a career criminal. So if you're interested in criminal law, concentrate more on being a good trial attorney, rather than getting top grades. Just get good grades.


I basically agree with all of this(have 3 yrs we at a DA's office as an enforcement officer and am interested in public service only.) If you're still in UG, definitely intern at a DA's office. There are also a lot of volunteer oportunities out there that will look great on your resume when you start applying for internships after 1L. I always recommend CASA, but look into organizations that deal with issues like elder/child abuse, victims rights, etc., I think things like that will look good as well. There are a lot of non-profits that would be interested in your free time. Law enforcement experience in general is obviously a big plus for DA.

I don't know if you're interested in the hiring practices of DA offices in CA, but you might find this interesting: http://www.law.ucdavis.edu/alumni/volun ... ctices.pdf

edit: wanted to add that interning and vounteering in your community will lead to invaluable contacts that will help you in ls and post-ls.
Last edited by articulably suspect on Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

Burger in a can
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Re: Public Interest

Postby Burger in a can » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:30 am

ejjones wrote:
smalltown wrote:A displayed commitment to service is a must. You need to show that you want to fight the good fight, whichever side of the fight you're on. Volunteer. If you're school has a public service pledge or program, get involved in that. Learn how to be a good trial lawyer, if you want to be involved in that. A lot of law schools don't teach you how to be a good trial attorney. You have to do mock trial, take clinics, intern with trial attorneys, those types of things. If there are trial advocacy classes, take those.

The upper crust of public interest is usually filled by the upper crust of law school graduates, just like any other field of law. But the bottom layers are filled by regional schools. There is also a misconception that people with shitty grades end up being public defenders or DAs by default. While they may not all have the best grades as people in corporate law, they don't need those grades. A lot of those people doing transactional work and mergers and acquisition would shit themselves on the spot if they were in front of a court defending or prosecuting a career criminal. So if you're interested in criminal law, concentrate more on being a good trial attorney, rather than getting top grades. Just get good grades.


I basically agree with all of this(have 3 yrs we at a DA's office as an enforcement officer and am interested in public service only.) If you're still in UG, definitely intern at a DA's office. There are also a lot of volunteer oportunities out there that will look great on your resume when you start applying for internships after 1L. I always recommend CASA, but look into organizations that deal with issues like elder/child abuse, victims rights, etc., I think things like that will look good as well. There are a lot of non-profits that would be interested in your free time. Law enforcement experience in generaly is obviously a big plus for DA.

I don't know if you're interested in the hiring practices of DA offices in CA, but you might find this interesting: http://www.law.ucdavis.edu/alumni/volun ... ctices.pdf


Thanks! I'm not interested in going back to CA EVER again (spent 3 years there and it wasn't for me) but it's really interesting to see job descriptions and the like. I finished undergrad 6 years ago, but this lovely economic climate has bestowed me with PLENTY of free time :evil: so I am sending in an application to volunteer at my state judicial branch, as you suggest. Thanks again!

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James Bond
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Re: Public Interest

Postby James Bond » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:31 am

Brawndo wrote:Few 1Ls at my school are interested in public interest or government

Everyone wants to be rollin' deep in fat stacks. A guy in my section already bought a BMW 5-series


hahahahaha. I hope just for that Karma's going to make him bomb his finals

Burger in a can
Posts: 1116
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:21 pm

Re: Public Interest

Postby Burger in a can » Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:44 am

Brawndo wrote:Few 1Ls at my school are interested in public interest or government

Everyone wants to be rollin' deep in fat stacks. A guy in my section already bought a BMW 5-series


Oh man what a tool. I bought one of these as soon as I registered for the LSAT: Image Sure, it cost me 1.7 million, but hey, I'm gonna be a freakin' LAWYER, right? :wink:

toaster2
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Re: Public Interest

Postby toaster2 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:54 am

.
Last edited by toaster2 on Tue May 25, 2010 1:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

Burger in a can
Posts: 1116
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:21 pm

Re: Public Interest

Postby Burger in a can » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:18 am

toaster2 wrote:
Burger in a can wrote:
Brawndo wrote:Few 1Ls at my school are interested in public interest or government

Everyone wants to be rollin' deep in fat stacks. A guy in my section already bought a BMW 5-series


Oh man what a tool. I bought one of these as soon as I registered for the LSAT:

Sure, it cost me 1.7 million, but hey, I'm gonna be a freakin' LAWYER, right? :wink:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm4ed3lPR-A&feature=related


Oh man! I guess that's what happens when you try to snort coke off a hooker's boobs while trying to shift into 3rd!

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Brawndo
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Re: Public Interest

Postby Brawndo » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:58 pm

Burger in a can wrote:
toaster2 wrote:
Burger in a can wrote:
Brawndo wrote:Few 1Ls at my school are interested in public interest or government

Everyone wants to be rollin' deep in fat stacks. A guy in my section already bought a BMW 5-series


Oh man what a tool. I bought one of these as soon as I registered for the LSAT:

Sure, it cost me 1.7 million, but hey, I'm gonna be a freakin' LAWYER, right? :wink:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm4ed3lPR-A&feature=related


Oh man! I guess that's what happens when you try to snort coke off a hooker's boobs while trying to shift into 3rd!


lol

That video was painful to watch.... I was like, "NOOOOO!! 1.7 million dollars, NOOOOO!!!"




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