Advice/Warnings for PI-focused 0L?

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ajshepard
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:19 am

Advice/Warnings for PI-focused 0L?

Postby ajshepard » Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:08 pm

0L here weighing the decision to apply for law school in the coming cycle. I've spent some time on these forums, reading the PI mega-thread and others that address some of the realities of public interest non-profit/government law, but am trying to get a sense of just how feasible an ideal employment outcome would be a few years down the road.

I just recently graduated college, ~3.85 GPA and 173 LSAT - would be targeting T6 schools or big money at lower T14s (13s? 15s?). With plenty being written about the competition for employment in the PI field, I'm largely wondering how secure such a career path is coming out of one of these places. Impact lit and the like certainly appeal to me but are by no means my primary goal, particularly given how selective hiring is in such positions. I would be happy to work in a legal aid office or similar type of environment, and have really enjoyed my time interning at a couple local non-profits providing services in housing and immigration law. I'm comfortable with the lower salary and would be relying on LRAP for loans, but on a more basic level - is public interest work something I can rely on getting and keeping out of law school, particularly since I wish to avoid Big Law at all costs? Please go ahead and burst my naive bubble if that's what it takes to give an honest answer!

NoDayButToday
Posts: 1377
Joined: Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:34 pm

Re: Advice/Warnings for PI-focused 0L?

Postby NoDayButToday » Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:28 pm

With your numbers I think you have a pretty good shot at T6 with good money, honestly, and you should also consider applying to HYS.

If you're dead set on PI, you should also be looking into the Root-Tilden Scholarship at NYU.

Coming from and speaking for NYU, I'd say your chances are really good at getting PI work straight-out. Most of my PI friends landed in their top choice location and/or field. Every year just about, NYU students go to Bronx Defenders and EJI, and the school funds several fellowships to do work in state government in New York (excelsior) or with nonprofits (e.g., I have a friend going to Lambda Legal), or public defense (NYU is funding my first year at a Southern PD office and I'm going to be trained by Gideon's Promise). The school has a dedicated public interest career center and I found the staff very helpful. They meet with you one-on-one, connect you with alumni in the areas you're interested in, help you find fellowships of interest, and organized on campus interviewing for PI/Gov't opportunities that are New York-centric but from all over. Also, it's worth noting that most impact litigation shops don't take people straight out of law school, but I do know a few people who got positions at places that do impact lit.

In addition to outcomes, the experience at NYU as a student is also great for PI. There's a pretty large PI community and we have clinics in just about every area you could want to try, especially immigration, racial justice / human rights, and criminal law. Not only are clinics a great practice/skill-building experience, but they're also a great networking experience because the school places you at organizations like the ACLU, Brennan Center, Center for Appellate Defense, etc. and you have a chance to try out working at some of those places. The course offerings are also excellent, taught by profs well-known in their fields.

There are also opportunities to get involved off campus. There are student-organized groups that do a lot of work around New York--for example, the Prisoners' Rights and Education Project (PREP) does advocacy work around solitary confinement and mentoring/tutoring; REACH does a legal clinic for homeless persons; the HIV Law Society does legal intake at Housing Works; the charitable bail fund allows you to get involved as a case worker or bail bonds person; one group assists trans people with name changes; etc. These groups also bring a lot of big-name speakers to campus and provide opportunities to network inside and outside of NYU.

I can't speak for other T14s as much, but I imagine the outcomes are similar for the other T6/T3 schools especially. Berkeley and Yale also have strong reputations for PI, but I'm not familiar with the concrete data.

ernie
Posts: 161
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:34 am

Re: Advice/Warnings for PI-focused 0L?

Postby ernie » Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:33 pm

ajshepard wrote:0L here weighing the decision to apply for law school in the coming cycle. I've spent some time on these forums, reading the PI mega-thread and others that address some of the realities of public interest non-profit/government law, but am trying to get a sense of just how feasible an ideal employment outcome would be a few years down the road.

I just recently graduated college, ~3.85 GPA and 173 LSAT - would be targeting T6 schools or big money at lower T14s (13s? 15s?). With plenty being written about the competition for employment in the PI field, I'm largely wondering how secure such a career path is coming out of one of these places. Impact lit and the like certainly appeal to me but are by no means my primary goal, particularly given how selective hiring is in such positions. I would be happy to work in a legal aid office or similar type of environment, and have really enjoyed my time interning at a couple local non-profits providing services in housing and immigration law. I'm comfortable with the lower salary and would be relying on LRAP for loans, but on a more basic level - is public interest work something I can rely on getting and keeping out of law school, particularly since I wish to avoid Big Law at all costs? Please go ahead and burst my naive bubble if that's what it takes to give an honest answer!

You can't really rely on any job outcome. Whether it's biglaw or PI, there are too many variables, e.g., what markets you target, what field of law, grades, your interviewing skills, etc.

Having said that, I think it's safe to say that you should not rely on getting an impact lit job directly out of law school. I think it's also safe to say that if you're flexible about the kind of work you do and you're flexible about location and you attend a top school with good PI placement, you will likely land on your feet.




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