Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

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nyu2012grad
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Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby nyu2012grad » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:06 pm

Studying for the bar is frying my brain. I thought I'd take a break from that to give back to this forum, since it was useful to me in my law school search.

I just graduated from NYU. I'll be doing criminal defense work next year, but I'm reasonably familiar with other public interest fields, too. I figured people could ask about job search stuff, although I'm happy to answer general NYU/NYC questions as well.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:45 pm

Do you have a job lined up? Is it via a fellowship? How hard was it to get? Which of your qualifications were most key in getting a job offer? Were you RTK?

nyu2012grad
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby nyu2012grad » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:08 pm

Do you have a job lined up?

Yes.

Is it via a fellowship?

No.

How hard was it to get?

The job market is difficult, especially in public interest. I applied everywhere I could possibly see myself working. This meant attending the EJW career fair in D.C. in October, signing up for on campus interviews, and scouring the web for job and fellowship postings across the country.

The process is exhausting and stressful, but I'll say this: by the end of the academic year, ALL of my public interest friends had jobs. I do know of some (very few) public interest people who don't have jobs, but my impression is that they are looking for something very specific because they are some of the best students (good GPA, law review, etc.) here. In criminal defense specifically, everyone that I know got employed, whether at public defenders, appellate offices, capital defense, juvenile work, or policy/fellowship stints.


Which of your qualifications were most key in getting a job offer?

Resume and past PI experience are very important. Even more important, though, is the ability to discuss those experiences in a thoughtful, self-critical manner and to synthesize them into a vision for your future career. When you intern at PI organizations, you will find that the other interns, like you, are intelligent. Like you, they work hard. What can distinguish you from them is showing that you have spent time reflecting upon the problem(s) you want to solve and your role in the solution.

In a related vein, taking substantive classes related to your field of interest is doubly useful. First, it makes you a better intern. For instance, in the criminal defense field, you had better go into your second summer internship with criminal procedure and evidence under your belt if you want to get any interesting work. Second, it demonstrates your interest and commitment to the field. A criminal defense organization that picks up your transcript and sees nothing but Tax and Trusts & Estates and Corporations isn't going to believe anything you tell them about your commitment, and frankly, they shouldn't.

Oh, and you can forget about grades. Only one prospective employer even asked for my transcript, and I am 90% confident that my grades had NO impact upon the hiring decision. For the record, I have fairly pedestrian grades - lowest grades were a few Bs, highest were a few As, the rest were B+s and A-s.


Were you RTK?

No, and I would caution everyone not to place too much significance on the RTK title. The Root program is great - I have a lot of friends who are RTK scholars. But it's more of an attempt to create community and a safe haven for PI-committed law students than some special echelon of super-students who will be first in line for jobs. The money up front is nice, but NYU's LRAP covers non-RTKs on the back end just as well; the community is nice, but it is decidedly NOT clique-ish and a broader PI community forms anyway; and while they get some perks (like monthly dinners), the career opportunities available to them are available to the student body at large. I heard rumbles that people felt RTKs were getting special treatment from the PI career office, but from my experience and from what I know from talking to friends, those complaints are unfounded. Finding the PI job that's right for you takes a lot of legwork, and that's the way it should be. How else are you going to know what's right for you without researching and talking to folks and soul searching and applying?

There is also the Hays Fellowship (http://www.law.nyu.edu/academics/fellow ... /index.htm), which is awarded to rising 3Ls with demonstrated public interest commitment. I had never heard of the Hays until I got to NYU, but I HIGHLY encourage prospective students to learn about it.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:55 pm

Thanks, that's encouraging. I'm going private practice route but have a number of rising 3L friends (at NYU) looking for public interest work and they seem pretty freaked out on the whole.

k5220
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby k5220 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:30 pm

i'm interested in a career in public interest, but my past experience is kind of narrowly focused. i've been thinking about participating in volunteer activities during 1L to provide a foundation for branching out. are there any specific activities at nyu that you would recommend and how early should i start looking to get involved? any other tips about how to set yourself up for a public interest job?

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spaceman82
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby spaceman82 » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:19 pm

I'd also like to hear about activities at NYU that you would recommend for someone looking to get involved quickly as a 1L. In relation to this, I've read in a couple of places that you can begin working with a legal aid organization pretty much from the beginning as a 1L. Is this true? If so, would you recommend taking on that type of commitment as a 1L?

Do you think law review and journals are very important for someone looking to do PI work? Or would it be better to spend the time needed for that focusing on grades (probably not, I guess, given your original post) and/or public interest-related work experiences?

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions!

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dextermorgan
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby dextermorgan » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:25 pm

nyu2012grad wrote:Studying for the bar is frying my brain. I thought I'd take a break from that to give back to this forum, since it was useful to me in my law school search.

I just graduated from NYU. I'll be doing criminal defense work next year, but I'm reasonably familiar with other public interest fields, too. I figured people could ask about job search stuff, although I'm happy to answer general NYU/NYC questions as well.

New Orleans PD?

nyu2012grad
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby nyu2012grad » Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:53 pm

k5220 wrote:i'm interested in a career in public interest, but my past experience is kind of narrowly focused. i've been thinking about participating in volunteer activities during 1L to provide a foundation for branching out. are there any specific activities at nyu that you would recommend and how early should i start looking to get involved? any other tips about how to set yourself up for a public interest job?


people differ in their answers to this question, so take my answer with a grain of salt. in fact, i wouldn't put too much stock in ANY advice you get during your first year (except for what i just said - hah). law school works differently for everyone. i solicited a lot of advice, tried a lot of different methods, and figured out what worked for me.

as far as volunteer activities go, i sought out organizations that developed skills i could use in the jobs i sought. for me, this meant client interaction, oral advocacy, and assisting underserved populations. student groups that have meetings and free dinners are great for building community, but they're essentially social clubs. they won't make you a better lawyer, and equally importantly, they won't help you persuade potential employers that you will be a good lawyer.

the same goes for journals. a journal is a nice line on a resume, but if you figure out a better way to spend that time, don't hesitate to jettison the journal. they are BS and employers know it. law review and moot court may be exceptions; the former because it's very prestigious, and the latter because it actually develops real oral advocacy skills.

two organizations that come to mind are the Unemployment Action Center (UAC) and the Suspension Representation Project (SRP). they both work with real clients in need of advocacy on their behalf. i'm sure there are many other organizations that do great things - just make sure to focus on orgs that actually do something as opposed to just talking about it.

nyu2012grad
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby nyu2012grad » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:04 pm

spaceman82 wrote:I'd also like to hear about activities at NYU that you would recommend for someone looking to get involved quickly as a 1L. In relation to this, I've read in a couple of places that you can begin working with a legal aid organization pretty much from the beginning as a 1L. Is this true? If so, would you recommend taking on that type of commitment as a 1L?

Do you think law review and journals are very important for someone looking to do PI work? Or would it be better to spend the time needed for that focusing on grades (probably not, I guess, given your original post) and/or public interest-related work experiences?

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions!


in my experience, you have plenty of time during 1L year to study to your little heart's content. student groups or even a term-time internship will not kill your grades.

as i said in response to another poster, i think journals are a nice line on the resume. that's it. they absolutely do not add any skills to your repertoire other than the ability to plow through the tedium of checking footnotes and cleaning up citations. you will have plenty of practice with tedium during law school. you don't need another minute of it. if you find something more interesting to do - something you can discuss intelligently and thoughtfully in an interview - do that instead.

i should reiterate that it is CRUCIAL to solicit a LOT of advice during law school generally and during your first year especially. if you are interested in, say, environmental law, go to the PILC office. ask them for 2L/3L/alumni contacts who have jobs that interest you, and get in touch. people LOVE to talk about their work and how they got there, and i've never received anything but helpful information when i've reached out to folks. one of NYU's great public interest assets is its large and diverse assortment of public interest grads. use them.

nyu2012grad
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby nyu2012grad » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:06 pm

dextermorgan wrote:
nyu2012grad wrote:Studying for the bar is frying my brain. I thought I'd take a break from that to give back to this forum, since it was useful to me in my law school search.

I just graduated from NYU. I'll be doing criminal defense work next year, but I'm reasonably familiar with other public interest fields, too. I figured people could ask about job search stuff, although I'm happy to answer general NYU/NYC questions as well.

New Orleans PD?


no, but i hear good things.

k5220
Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby k5220 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:12 am

nyu2012grad wrote:
k5220 wrote:i'm interested in a career in public interest, but my past experience is kind of narrowly focused. i've been thinking about participating in volunteer activities during 1L to provide a foundation for branching out. are there any specific activities at nyu that you would recommend and how early should i start looking to get involved? any other tips about how to set yourself up for a public interest job?


people differ in their answers to this question, so take my answer with a grain of salt. in fact, i wouldn't put too much stock in ANY advice you get during your first year (except for what i just said - hah). law school works differently for everyone. i solicited a lot of advice, tried a lot of different methods, and figured out what worked for me.

as far as volunteer activities go, i sought out organizations that developed skills i could use in the jobs i sought. for me, this meant client interaction, oral advocacy, and assisting underserved populations. student groups that have meetings and free dinners are great for building community, but they're essentially social clubs. they won't make you a better lawyer, and equally importantly, they won't help you persuade potential employers that you will be a good lawyer.

the same goes for journals. a journal is a nice line on a resume, but if you figure out a better way to spend that time, don't hesitate to jettison the journal. they are BS and employers know it. law review and moot court may be exceptions; the former because it's very prestigious, and the latter because it actually develops real oral advocacy skills.

two organizations that come to mind are the Unemployment Action Center (UAC) and the Suspension Representation Project (SRP). they both work with real clients in need of advocacy on their behalf. i'm sure there are many other organizations that do great things - just make sure to focus on orgs that actually do something as opposed to just talking about it.

thanks! this is really helpful information!

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spaceman82
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby spaceman82 » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:26 pm

That was extremely helpful. Thank you. If I could I ask one more question, though: in regard to Law Review, do you think that it's worth it or not worth it, considering opportunity cost, for someone strictly interested in PI? Thanks again!

nyu2012grad wrote:in my experience, you have plenty of time during 1L year to study to your little heart's content. student groups or even a term-time internship will not kill your grades.

as i said in response to another poster, i think journals are a nice line on the resume. that's it. they absolutely do not add any skills to your repertoire other than the ability to plow through the tedium of checking footnotes and cleaning up citations. you will have plenty of practice with tedium during law school. you don't need another minute of it. if you find something more interesting to do - something you can discuss intelligently and thoughtfully in an interview - do that instead.

i should reiterate that it is CRUCIAL to solicit a LOT of advice during law school generally and during your first year especially. if you are interested in, say, environmental law, go to the PILC office. ask them for 2L/3L/alumni contacts who have jobs that interest you, and get in touch. people LOVE to talk about their work and how they got there, and i've never received anything but helpful information when i've reached out to folks. one of NYU's great public interest assets is its large and diverse assortment of public interest grads. use them.

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HarlandBassett
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby HarlandBassett » Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:48 am

what % of NYU class is PI driven

eleemosynary2
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Re: Public interest NYU 2012 grad taking questions

Postby eleemosynary2 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:28 pm

I am currently working in a PI legal organization (in a non-legal role), so I have a sense of what the work and lifestyle can involve. I'm still not sure whether I want to make the sacrifices that PI entails (salary, difficulty and risk of job search) as opposed to going for government or even Biglaw for a few years.

Does this ambivalence mean I'm not cut out for PI, in your view? Does one have to be a "true believer" with at least a planned trajectory right from the get-go? Or have you seen classmates come in who weren't sure if they wanted PI who grew into it through law school and have had a successful outcome?

Many thanks for creating this thread and for your thoughtful responses.




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