Careers in legal aid

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sev
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Careers in legal aid

Post by sev » Sun Mar 21, 2021 12:55 pm

hello! Noticed we didn't have a thread for us legal aid folks.

I'll be starting this fall with a legal aid firm in the lower midwest/south-central--any other legal aid folks around here?

Mostly I just wanted to start the community here, but also open to hearing if anyone had ideas about how to improve legal aid's effectiveness (if you've worked in it) or mistakes that you see legal aid making (if you work opposite/do pro bono work in partnership). Trying to hear as much advice as possible before starting!

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Nebby
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Nebby » Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:30 am

I know there's at least two on here - hopefully they see this thread!

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Kümmel
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Kümmel » Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:52 am

I'm not really sure if we have any active posters in that type of legal aid. What kind of work will you be doing?

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sev
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by sev » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:04 pm

Kümmel wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:52 am
I'm not really sure if we have any active posters in that type of legal aid. What kind of work will you be doing?
Mostly housing work, which is what I've done through law school, but definitely want to help with the tax clinic where I can. We'll see--managing attorney said that people can rotate around.

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Kümmel
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Kümmel » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:42 pm

oh that's pretty cool. i always imagined the southwest type legal aid places to be a kinda general practice

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sev
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by sev » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:58 pm

The offices in the small towns certainly are, but I'm based in one of the metro areas where they're more specialized. I'm not super picky though, so at least at first I'm kind of hoping they throw a bit of everything at me.

Jake
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Jake » Tue Oct 12, 2021 10:17 am

I've heard those are mostly one year contracts ? Is that true ?

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Hennessy
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Hennessy » Tue Oct 12, 2021 12:33 pm

Jake wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 10:17 am
I've heard those are mostly one year contracts ? Is that true ?
No. Regular employment by legal non-profits. Bigger cities will have specialized practice groups, smaller cities / rural will often have generalized practice groups. It's usually forms of poverty law - crimin public defense,, housing, public benefits, disability, etc.

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Potat
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Potat » Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:36 pm

Hello All,

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!

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Hennessy
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Hennessy » Tue Oct 12, 2021 2:25 pm

Potat wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:36 pm
Hello All,

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!
General Tips
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.

Interview Tips:
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?

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Potat
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Potat » Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:30 pm

Amazing. Thanks very much! Appreciate you!

Question: A legal aid attorney suggested I research states and organizations via LSC. Funding and opportunities for legal aid work in AZ seem a bit scarce. Should I take this into consideration in comparing offers? Do you imagine it would it be very difficult to seek opportunities in neighboring states as an ASU Law student/graduate?
Last edited by Potat on Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hennessy
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Hennessy » Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:46 pm

Not if Arizona is where you want to work / live.

Are you saying you're just open to legal aid work anywhere in the country?

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Potat
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Potat » Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:50 pm

Yeah, I'm pretty open. I would prefer to live and work in California (my home state), but I'm not expecting competitive offers from CA law schools. I'm debt averse.

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:55 pm

Isn't legal aid PSLF eligible? I'd be debt seeking if I was legal aid or bust.

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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Jake » Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:37 pm

BlendedUnicorn wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:55 pm
Isn't legal aid PSLF eligible? I'd be debt seeking if I was legal aid or bust.
You consider a NON Lawyer position in the military? If you go E-4 for a few years, that debt is normally pretty much gone like magic.

You young/healthy/crazy enough? There are lots of MOS other than JAG.


DISCLAIMER: I am not a recruiter, so I could be out of date of the E-4 thing.

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:54 pm

Jake wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:37 pm
BlendedUnicorn wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:55 pm
Isn't legal aid PSLF eligible? I'd be debt seeking if I was legal aid or bust.
You consider a NON Lawyer position in the military? If you go E-4 for a few years, that debt is normally pretty much gone like magic.

You young/healthy/crazy enough? There are lots of MOS other than JAG.


DISCLAIMER: I am not a recruiter, so I could be out of date of the E-4 thing.
super confused by why this is coming up here but since you mention it I did the whole E-4/E-5 thing prior to law school and literally got paid to go to school so, yes, this is a good way to avoid debt if you're otherwise ok with the whole 3+ years of being in the military thing.

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Hennessy
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Hennessy » Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:04 pm

BlendedUnicorn wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:55 pm
Isn't legal aid PSLF eligible? I'd be debt seeking if I was legal aid or bust.
Yeah this. Debt is fake. PSLF isn't going anywhere. (Johann citation.)

Potat, don't worry about the debt but also don't worry about the prestige of schools or whatever. The #1 most important factor for legal aid and PI seeking law students is location. Do you have connections, an interest in the community, a willingness to stay. If you want to work in California as a legal aid attorney, doing that from ASU is going to be hard (or rather, harder than if you were a student at nearly any CA school seeking a job in the vicinity.)

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Hennessy
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Hennessy » Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:07 pm

I mean, worry a little about the debt.

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Potat
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Potat » Tue Oct 12, 2021 7:04 pm

... Oh, wow. Okay. I wasn't sure about PSLF - seemed a little sketch.

It makes sense for me to stay in SoCal. I work for a large nonprofit here, and we have contracts with the legal aid/nonprofit firms in the area.

I guess I should connect with you guys when I have more offers in hand. Thanks for your time! I really appreciate it!
Last edited by Potat on Wed Oct 20, 2021 12:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hennessy
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Hennessy » Tue Oct 12, 2021 7:09 pm

Yes you should do that. Feel free to DM me, I was an extreme splitter who went to a mid-tier school for the purpose of landing legal aid work and I did.

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Potat
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Potat » Tue Oct 12, 2021 7:19 pm

Bless you, Hennessy.

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Potat
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Potat » Fri Oct 15, 2021 4:13 pm

I received a full-ride offer from PennState Dickinson! :D Any thoughts on their law school and programs?

CONGRATS

Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by CONGRATS » Sat Oct 16, 2021 12:58 am

Potat wrote:
Fri Oct 15, 2021 4:13 pm
I received a full-ride offer from PennState Dickinson! :D Any thoughts on their law school and programs?
:D

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northwood
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by northwood » Sat Oct 16, 2021 1:23 pm

any stips to that scholarship? Its a good school, especially if you want to stay in PA.

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Potat
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Re: Careers in legal aid

Post by Potat » Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:02 pm

No conditions. You think it would be difficult to secure work outside of central PA with a JD from Dickinson?

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