Finding Your Calling

I assume that if you’re reading this blog, you are at least considering a career in public interest law, but you may be wondering how to make the decision about what kind of public interest law you want to practice. Many law students focus on figuring out what area of law they are interested in or what problem in the world they want to try to solve. That’s important, because you want to be passionate about your work. But it’s not the only question you should be asking. You also want to find a job that you enjoy doing day-to-day, that plays to your strengths, and that minimizes work that drains or bores you. Many jobs sound better in theory than in practice. A job you never seriously considered may end up being perfect for you. That’s why you’ll want to spend your law school years trying out different jobs to see what works for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating the different kinds of public interest jobs:

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Find a Mentor. Better Yet, Find Two.

One of the most important things you can do as an aspiring public interest lawyer is to find mentors to help you along the way. But finding a mentor is easier said than done. How do you find a mentor? And perhaps equally as important, how do you find a good mentor?

There are different kinds of mentors and you should try to find at least one of each. There are mentors who are at an advanced stage in their career and who can help you make the connections you need to succeed. These are rainmaker mentors. There are also mentors who are just a few years ahead of you in their careers who can provide a more personal kind of mentorship. These are confidant mentors. Each of these mentors fulfills a different role in your professional development.

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Want to Become a Public Interest Lawyer? Focus on the LSAT

By Mikaila Smith

Mikaila is a rising 3L at the University of Chicago Law School. The subject of this post -the LSAT – is an important one for aspiring public interest lawyers. Your LSAT score is one of the most important factors in law school admissions decisions, and where you go to law school is one of the most important factors in determining your options after law school. This post is especially useful for people who cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars on LSAT prep courses and tutoring. If you are in that position, you need to study more, not less. Mikaila explains how she did it.

If you want to work as a public interest lawyer, you should try to get the best LSAT score you possibly can. Pursuing a public interest legal career requires commitment at every turn. The vast majority of your classmates will follow well-tread, lucrative pathways into firm work. If you have a six-figure debt piling up, it will be really difficult to forgo a firm job to follow your passion.

That’s where the LSAT comes in. A high score will not only help you get into a top law school, but also increase your chances of receiving merit aid. The hours you invest in studying for the test could literally save you thousands of dollars in law school debt. The below guide outlines the method that I used to self-study for the LSAT. My test-day score was 12 points higher than my first practice test.

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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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