Archive for November, 2010

On National Career Development Day…

According to the National Career Development Association, today is National Career Development Day.  It happens to fall in the middle of National Career Development Week (Nov. 15-19),  which itself is situated right smack in the heart of National Career Development Month (yes, November).  It’s quite ambitious, we think, to declare a celebratory month, week, and day.  Nonetheless, career development is extraordinarily important for law students.  And since public interest hiring season is approaching, we wanted to mark the occasion with a couple of points:

  • 1Ls, in case the date (understandably) passed you by amidst your efforts to master such concepts as nonmutual collateral estoppel and proximate causation, Nov. 1 marked the point at which you were able to begin meeting with your schools’ career development professionals.  (See NALP’s Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities, Part V(D) – bottom of page.)  On December 1, you will be able to initiate contact with employers.  We at the PSLawNet Blog have mixed feelings about 1Ls focusing much, if at all, on the job search during 1st semester.  In a perfect world, you would spend the entire semester learning how to be law students.  We recognize, though, that the poor job market has many of you feeling ill at ease.  So for those who wish to take the plunge, we wish to convey how strongly we feel that setting up a meeting with career services is the best starting point.  Your author was very stubborn in school and fashioned himself a sort of rogue public-interest student.  Even though my school had a stand-alone public interest career office, I didn’t set foot in it.  This was really, really dumb.  I was able to find a summer job only because of some public interest work experience I’d gotten before school.  But I was operating with tunnel vision and had no idea about the broad array of practice settings that were open to me as a job applicant.  Had I met with career services, I’d have cast a much wider net in choosing where to apply.  And, on account of my stubbornness later in law school, I was hopelessly out of touch with the timeline to apply for postgraduate fellowships – something I still regret, and something my public interest career advisor could easily have clued me in on.  Finally, I don’t even want to think about what my cover letter and resume looked like without a trained set of eyes having reviewed them.  In retrospect, I got my 1L summer job in spite of my job search skills, not because of them.
  • Many 2Ls and 3Ls may already be hard at work on summer and postgraduate job applications, respectively.  I strongly encourage you to check in with your career services office (even, no, especially, if it’s for the first time).  And take advantage of PSLawNet’s career search resources on cover letters, resumes, and interviews, as well as our public interest career fairs calendar.

Good luck, and if there is anything we can provide to make things easier – short of a more rapid economic turnaround – please let us know.

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PSLawNet Jobs Report: November 15, 2010

Need a job or internship? During the past week PSLawNet has posted:   45 new attorney positions,   48 internships, and  20 law related opportunities.  Additionally, there are currently 1,222 active opportunities in our job database. To search the database visit PSLawNet.

Featured New Positions:

The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) has just begun their search for a new Executive Director following the announcement from their Executive Director of 41 years that he will retire at the end of t his year.  MLRI is a statewide legal advocacy and support center whose mission is to promote economic, racial and social justice for low-income people through legal action, education and advocacy.  The organization is seeking a talented new leader to partner with its Board, staff, valued constituents and supporters in championing the rights and opportunities of low-income people at a time of significant economic and social challenge.  Check PSLawNet for application details.

The Polaris Project is current seeking law students to serve as Senior Legal and Policy Fellows  in their Policy and Legal Department.  Fellows will assist with advocacy and policy development for stronger comprehensive state and federal laws on human trafficking. Responsibilities include: conducting legal and statutory research, monitoring pending legislation, preparing legislative outreach materials, including action alerts, advocate and legislator briefs, communicating and providing assistance to legislators and other policy makers, providing technical assistance during the bill drafting process, and helping to build and assist coalitions in support of legislation.  Responsibilities may also include direct lobbying, outreach and the preparation of training materials for law enforcement and others.  Deadline:  December 24, 2010.  Check PSLawNet for application details.

Featured Public Service Career Resource:

Do you have an interest in working for State or Local Government? Just like the federal government, state and local government attorneys handle a broad range of legal issues and are housed in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.  State/local government attorneys craft policy, draft laws and rules, advise elected and appointed officials, and represent the interests of citizens in court.

Each state and local government organization has unique hiring practices, thus it is best to research each locale to see what types of positions exist and learn about hiring policies, etc.  On our State and Local Government Resources page we have links to state/local government resources by state and additional resources  to guide your job search.  Check it out.

 Learn more about getting a PSLawNet job seeker or employer account . . .
Learn more about getting a PSLawNet job seeker or employer account . . .

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Expert Opinion: 5 Steps to Launching a Law School Pro Bono Program

Today’s expert opinion is contributed by Susan J. Feathers, an Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Albany Law School where she is also an Academic Support Professor, the Director of Pro Bono Programs and the Faculty Advisor to Moot Court.  She is the former Executive Director of Stanford Law School’s Levin Center for Public Service and served as an Assistant Dean for Public Service at the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Public Service Program (ABA Pro Bono Publico Award 2000) for nine years.  She began her career in academia as a Senior Supervising Attorney for Hofstra Law School’s Constitutional Litigation and Criminal Defense Clinics.   She has also served as Senior Appellate Counsel for the Legal Aid Society of New York City, Criminal Appeals Bureau.

The following five steps are excerpted from Feather’s article, 5 STEPS TO LAUNCHING A PRO BONO PROGRAM:   Albany Law School Launches Service-Learning Program with statewide partners.

(1) Host a Pro Bono Fair for Community Partners Seeking Pro Bono Assistance:   One of the most effective and easiest ways to educate students about pro bono opportunities in your community is to invite attorneys seeking pro bono interns to your law school for an informal informational fair.  This provides a way for both your students and prospective partners to meet ‘face-to-face’ and get a sense of the broad range of opportunities.    Your fair can feature local as well as statewide programs.   Albany Law School’s Pro Bono Program collaborates with a vast array of local and national  partners including:  the ACLU of Mississippi;  Freedom Now;;  the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York;   the New York State Bar Association,  Prisoners Legal Services,   and the Rural law Center.

(2) Develop a Student Handbook:  In the student handbook you can detail the various components of your program; including your definition of pro bono, the time expectations and the procedure for signing up and giving feedback.   In the handbook it is critical to address the many professional responsibility issues that may arise in the context of pro bono placements including confidentiality, conflicts of interest and the potential for unauthorized practice of law.  Finally, it is important to have opportunities for students to provide feedback about their experience and how it may have contributed to their understanding of substantive law;  informed their career choices;   and impacted their overall experience at the law school.

Keep reading . . .

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Public Interest News Bulletin – November 12, 2010

This week’s Bulletin begins and ends with stories on overburdened public defenders’ offices in Missouri.  In between: a new project to serve veterans in Georgia; an op-ed on supporting legal services from the ABA’s president-elect; a “broken” legal aid system in British Columbia; a look at Michigan Law’s one-of-a-kind human trafficking clinic; a new, statewide legal services program in Wyoming; a sobering report on the fiscal state of nonprofit human services providers; a new pro bono project to engage senior law-firm lawyers in D.C.; and the Federal Career Intern Program may not be much longer for this world.

  • 11.11.10 – the Nodaway News Leader in Missouri reports that the Nodaway County public defender’s office has a caseload “that has increased to 270% of what the state believes a normal caseload should be.”  (See the final item below for more Missouri public defense news.)
  • 11.10.10 – on the heels of the national Celebration of Pro Bono we were happy to read ABA President-elect William T. Robinson III’s piece in the Louisville Courier-Journal emphasizing the importance of both engaging in pro bono and encouraging Congress to “pass legislation to grant full FDIC protection for IOLTAs . . . during the upcoming lame-duck session” in order “to protect this important source of legal aid funding.”  IOLTA accounts currently have FDIC protection, however that protection will expire at the end of 2010.

Keep reading the bulletin . . .

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Pursuing a Public Interest Career: Key Insights from NALP/PSLawNet Public Service Mini-Conference and EJW Conference and Career Fair (Part 2 of 2)

Today’s guest post is shared by Leeor Neta, the Assistant Director for Public Interest Programs at Golden Gate University School of Law.  After attending the 2010 NALP/PSLawNet Public Service Mini-Conference and EJW Conference and Career Fair he is sharing key insights from programming he attended at both conferences on GGU’s Law Career Services Blog.  (Read Part 1)

Finding and Making the Most of a Mentor

On the last day of the conference, I attended a session on how to find and maintain a mentor relationship. The speaker explained that there are three ingredients to successful mentorship: (1) reasonable expectations, (2) a strategic approach, and (3) a two-way relationship.

In order to ensure that one’s expectations are reasonable, mentees should ask themselves specifically what they are hoping to get out of the relationship. The mentor relationship cannot just be designed to find the mentee a job, but it can be designed to help the mentee acquire skills, act as a sounding board for the mentee, and offer answers to specific questions the mentee might have. Because no one mentor can do everything, mentees should “build a board of mentors”, each one of whom is available to provide advice and support on a specific topic.

Finding multiple mentors requires some strategic thinking, and that means planning where to find mentors and how to approach them. Everyone agreed that students need to create LinkedIn profiles and use keyword searches to identify potential mentors. Indeed, one of the attorneys in attendance confessed that she found a job through her LinkedIn profile.

Once a mentor is found, the mentee needs to make sure that the relationship remains “a two way street.” What that means is that mentees need to think about what they bring to the relationship — whether it be a certain kind of energy, a different perspective, or even knowledge about social media advocacy — and offer themselves as resources to their mentors.

Keep reading about student debt relief and equal access to justice issues . . .

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PSLawNet Jobs Report: November 8, 2010

A new recurring feature on the PSLawNet Blog will be our weekly “PSLawNet Jobs Report” that will highlight new job opportunities posted on PSLawNet and public service career resources.

Need a job or internship? During the past week PSLawNet has posted:  85 new attorney positions, 55 internships, and 15 law related opportunities.  Additionally, there are currently 1140 active opportunities in our job database. To search the database visit PSLawNet.

Featured New Positions:

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a currently accepting applicants for a full-time staff attorney position, available immediately.  RAICES is a Texas-based 501(c)(3) organization that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost immigration legal services and education to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas. Check PSLawNet for application details.

The Vera Institute of Justice is currently seeking interns to work closely with a small team of Vera program staff on projects that aim to improve immigrants’ access to justice.  Current programs include a legal orientation program to provide detained individuals in removal proceedings with legal information, pro se assistance and access to pro bono legal services; a program to provide unaccompanied children in the United States with legal information and access to pro bono legal counsel; a program that trains law enforcement on the use of the U-visa; a program that is assessing promising police-immigrant relations practices; and technical assistance/consulting activities to assist police departments and other government agencies in overcoming language barriers and serving immigrant communities.  The Vera Institute of Justice combines expertise in research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance to help leaders in government and civil society improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety.  Check PSLawNet for application details.

Featured Public Service Career Resource:

Finding and Funding International Public Interest Opportunities is an online guide that provides background info and recommendations for students/attorneys embarking on international public interest careers.  It is annually updated by NALP members at the Universities of Arizona and Georgia, and at the William & Mary School of Law.  Download the guide.

Learn more about getting a PSLawNet job seeker or employer account . . .

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How One Law School Funds Its Veterans Clinic

We’ve recently posted about great work being done by law students throughout the country via legal clinics for veterans. On a related note, last week we came across an article about the naming of the William & Mary School of Law’s veterans clinic.  (It’s called the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic, and you can read more about it here.)  Most noteworthy to us, though, is that the article mentions how the clinic is run and how it’s been funded thus far.  This information may be useful for students who are working with – or hoping to launch – a similar clinic now.

The Veterans Benefits Clinic accepted its first clients in January 2009. William & Mary law students working under the supervision of Adjunct Law Professors and retired JAG officers Stacey-Rae Simcox and Mark D. Matthews help veterans with their claims for benefits while students and faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Psychological Services and Development provide assessment, counseling and referrals to veterans in need of those services.

The clinic’s work is made possible, in part, by the support of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and members of the William & Mary Law School Class of 1974. In addition, the Virginia Bar Association (VBA) announced Nov. 4 its Veteran’s Initiative is urging law firms to sponsor fundraisers to benefit William & Mary’s Veterans Benefits Clinic. The VBA Veteran’s Initiative seeks to educate attorneys about veterans’ legal needs and to enlist attorneys to provide assistance to veterans on a pro bono or reduced fee basis.

The partnership with VCU’s psychology professionals seems like a terrific idea, since substantiating eligibility and need for benefits and services is critical to securing them.  It’s also good to see that the clinic has such diverse players as a charitable foundation, the state bar, and law school alumni supporting its work.  We hadn’t thought of this before, but it makes a lot of sense to reach back to Vietnam-era graduates for support.  Many served in the military themselves, and almost all of them watched friends and relatives adjust – sometimes with great struggle – to civilian life after military service.

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