Question about Public Interest Jobs

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ahnhub
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Question about Public Interest Jobs

Postby ahnhub » Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:45 am

I think one of the assumptions we make on this board is that everyone who goes into "public interest" self-selected to do so--maybe working for a big nonprofit like Children's Law Center, etc.

But anecdotally I've heard that it's actually quite difficult to land entry-level positions with nonprofit organizations (a lot of involves getting a fellowship, etc.), and that most public interest lawyers work for public interest law firms, many of which quite frankly offer work of a level comparable to what we (unfortunately) call "shitlaw." (Unfortunately because I think it's completely unfair to brand any non-Biglaw related legal work with the same brush. There are things that some people are interested in which other people are not. I wouldn't mind doing insurance defense or landlord/renter disputes; I'd never want to work at a place whose primary focus was personal injury).

I suspect the person I talked to was right. But even given that, anyone want to chime in on how many people who end up working in the "public interest" sector actually wanted to do so, or were simply forced into it by the job market? And how does school ranking play into that? (I know Michigan/NYU/Berkeley, for example, historically always place around 10% into PI. Can we reasonably assume most of those people self-selected, or not?)

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dextermorgan
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Re: Question about Public Interest Jobs

Postby dextermorgan » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:29 am

Anecdotally, every hippie do-gooder PI lawyer I know was a hippie do-gooder first.

addy11
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Re: Question about Public Interest Jobs

Postby addy11 » Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:20 am

I've worked at several legal aid societies. Anecdotally it seems like most people who went to non-t14 law schools don't want to be there, and those who did go to t14 law schools really do want/always have wanted to be there.

Miami?
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Re: Question about Public Interest Jobs

Postby Miami? » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:28 am

I've been a hippie do-gooder for past 10 years, and through my hippie do-good work, I realized I need to take it up a level, and get a law degree. I plan on continuing in hippie do-good work but with a slightly diff slant now...

Miami?
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Re: Question about Public Interest Jobs

Postby Miami? » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:29 am

ahnhub wrote:I think one of the assumptions we make on this board is that everyone who goes into "public interest" self-selected to do so--maybe working for a big nonprofit like Children's Law Center, etc.

But anecdotally I've heard that it's actually quite difficult to land entry-level positions with nonprofit organizations (a lot of involves getting a fellowship, etc.), and that most public interest lawyers work for public interest law firms, many of which quite frankly offer work of a level comparable to what we (unfortunately) call "shitlaw." (Unfortunately because I think it's completely unfair to brand any non-Biglaw related legal work with the same brush. There are things that some people are interested in which other people are not. I wouldn't mind doing insurance defense or landlord/renter disputes; I'd never want to work at a place whose primary focus was personal injury).

I suspect the person I talked to was right. But even given that, anyone want to chime in on how many people who end up working in the "public interest" sector actually wanted to do so, or were simply forced into it by the job market? And how does school ranking play into that? (I know Michigan/NYU/Berkeley, for example, historically always place around 10% into PI. Can we reasonably assume most of those people self-selected, or not?)


what kind of public interest are you interested in?

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worldtraveler
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Re: Question about Public Interest Jobs

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:20 am

Entry level PI jobs with a prestigious organization are probably harder to get than big law, especially given current budget cuts. It's not a backup. Everyone I know at Berkeley pursuing PI is doing it because that's what they want, and I'm pretty sure they all wanted that long before they got to law school.

I have the feeling that even at lower ranked schools, a significant number of those pursuing PI have an actual interest in it too.

ahnhub
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Re: Question about Public Interest Jobs

Postby ahnhub » Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:54 pm

I actually have no interest in PI. Too cynical. But I do have an interest in finding out how good of an investment law school is--I just kinda want a ballpark estimate for how many people end up satisfied after law school.

There's something like 45,000 law school grads a year. About 4000-5000 are listed as "PI" on employment outcomes. I don't believe all of those people are saving the world at Greenpeace. There's a good chance I myself will end up at a PI-oriented T-14 school next year--Michigan or Berkeley. For the Class of 2010, Michigan says almost 11% of its graduates ended up working in the PI sector. Is it reasonable to believe most of those people were hippy do-gooder types? Or were half of them just people who struck out at OCI?

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Tanicius
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Re: Question about Public Interest Jobs

Postby Tanicius » Thu Dec 08, 2011 10:19 pm

ahnhub wrote:I actually have no interest in PI. Too cynical. But I do have an interest in finding out how good of an investment law school is--I just kinda want a ballpark estimate for how many people end up satisfied after law school.

There's something like 45,000 law school grads a year. About 4000-5000 are listed as "PI" on employment outcomes. I don't believe all of those people are saving the world at Greenpeace. There's a good chance I myself will end up at a PI-oriented T-14 school next year--Michigan or Berkeley. For the Class of 2010, Michigan says almost 11% of its graduates ended up working in the PI sector. Is it reasonable to believe most of those people were hippy do-gooder types? Or were half of them just people who struck out at OCI?


Well, it depends on the definition of PI. I see personal injury and labor and employment plaintiff firms as a type of PI, but the pay is higher, and most career services offices probably don't label that kind of thing PI. The thing is, it's not as hard for a biglaw mindset type of person to get those jobs because it's similar types of work, you're just the other party in litigation.




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