Potat wrote: ↑
Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:36 pm
Decisions are still pending for the 21-22 application cycle, but I have already received a generous offer from ASU Law. I'm currently living in Southern California, and I have several years of WE in a social work-adjacent, human services position. I am committed to public service and public interest law. Do you have any advice for an incoming 1L seeking a career in legal aid?
Thanks very much!
1. Figure out what kind of public interest law / legal aid. It doesn't have to be hyperspecific - an interest in economic justice and poverty law will make lots of legal aid work attractive. Immigration vs. public defense vs. consumer protection, etc.
It's ok now to not know, but you should have a rough idea of different practice areas by the end of 1L so you can start tailoring your applications to the type of work you want to do. You can do this by talking to getting in touch with local legal aid attorneys, either at law school events, regional public interest events, or (carefully) through LinkedIn.
2. Spend your summers in public interest internships. They don't have to be in your chosen practice area (whether or not you have one.)
2.5 Don't cross any lines though. If you want to do public defense, don't work for the DA. If you want to work housing, don't work for the AZ housing authority. Others might be less contentious (like public benefits legal aid vs. dept. of human resources) but just be wary of what your background looks like to a legal aid attorney. There is a lot of moralism in this work, for better or for worse.
3. With that in mind, show your commitment. Volunteer, do externships, clinics. Network. This kind of work is often high volume and pays poorly - an interviewer wants to be sure you aren't going to "Nope" out after 6mo.
4. Grades and law review: less important. Don't slack though. But don't join a random journal.
5. Find what professors or adjuncts at ASU actually work in legal services, talk to the them extensively.
6. Join a clinic. Civil litigation clinic of any kind would be your best bet. This is my number one recommendation for any PI law student. It is incredibly valuable.
1. Be genuine. "I care about this work / community because x." If X is not a real thing about you or your background, don't say it. Find another way to connect with the work. Why do
you care about the work / community?
2. Again, show your commitment. "I care about this work, so I did/have done X." You want to have gone further down the legal services rabbithole than anyone else. You have already made an impact in your past work.
3. Why are you: Client-centric? A good advocate? Flexible and problem solving? Able to deal with frustrating people?