One Recent Grad’s Reflections on the Public Interest Job Market

By Jacob Hamburger

Jacob graduated from the University of Chicago Law School earlier this month and was able to successfully procure a public interest staff attorney position that will begin after he takes the bar exam. This post details his experience and reflections on his past year on the public interest job market.

I graduated law school earlier this month, and am fortunate enough to have a staff attorney job lined up at a large legal aid office, and in my area of interest. As I sit down to write this post, I’m in between sessions of studying for the bar—which can be annoying, but is ultimately manageable, and leaves me time to enjoy the sunshine. The covid-19 pandemic is receding in my area, and it’s looking like something resembling a normal professional and social life is around the corner.

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What to Get Out of Your Public Interest Summer Internship

It is the second week of June, which means many law students are a few weeks into their summer internships. You may be wondering what you should be trying to get out of your summer if you plan to go into public interest.

First, you should think about your internal goals. Ideally, your summer experiences should help you narrow down what you want to do after you graduate. I always say that my 20s were just an exercise in crossing careers off a list until I found something that I wanted to do. First, I narrowed it down to law, then in law school, I whittled down the list of potential jobs further until I was pretty sure of what I wanted to do. Especially, if you think you know what you want to do, you should try to do that for at least one summer to see if you actually like it. I’ve spoken to many law students who came into law school with their heart set on a particular job only to realize they actually disliked it once they tried it out. If you try something and hate it, well, that might save you years of working at the wrong job after law school.

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The Fellowship Project Proposal

The centerpiece of an application for a project-based fellowship is the project proposal. Not all fellowships are project-based, but it’s important to understand what makes a good proposal for those that are.

Every fellowship has different requirements for what needs to go into a project proposal, but at a minimum every proposal must identify: (1) the client population to be served; (2) the area of law; and (3) the types of legal services provided.

Here are a few Skadden projects that were funded last year to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

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