Biglaw 2L SA to PI

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Sinoper
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Biglaw 2L SA to PI

Post by Sinoper » Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:43 am

How hard would it be to jump from a Biglaw 2L SA to PI? I'm about to start my SA in a month but pretty much regret going the biglaw route, as it just doesn't jive well with me on a fulfillment front. My T14 has fellowships, but I worry that I won't be competitive because my PI resume is just BAD w/o a PI 2L summer (I did summer 1L at a gov't employer fwiw). I'm also corporate-leaning, so my coursework reflects that, but, obviously, I'd be switching into lit. My 2L SA rotations will also be on corporate ones... Specifically, I'd love to return home to my State AG (think a state with a population rank between 30-40 in flyover country), work in some policy/lit healthcare/environment/etc. position, FPD eventually, or something like that. Would it be worth reaching out to my firm and trying to get a lit rotation for the summer? Any guidance would be helpful. Oh, also, I'm roughly median at my T14.

I kind of want to see if I have any options, because I'm also considering packing up shop and moving on from my law degree.
Last edited by Sinoper on Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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CS1775
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Re: Biglaw 2L SA to PI

Post by CS1775 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:40 am

Personally I think a clerkship in your home state with an appellate state judge would put you in a good position to transition from BigLaw into civil (appellate? each state has a different role for their AG) government work. Put it this way, you're not trying to become a public defender where the first or second question in every interview probably is going to be "why indigent defense?" Or, "are you comfortable defending child molesters?" The second question is a bit extreme, but you get my gist.

Over this upcoming summer, try to reach out to alums in your home state and intended PI practice field. If you can't find any such alum, try networking with people working in the practice area you want.

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Nony
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Re: Biglaw 2L SA to PI

Post by Nony » Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:55 am

I agree that a clerkship would be a good way to reset and get another year to network/figure things out. If you’re looking at state AG, a state clerkship could be a decent move (at least in my law school market, a decent number of state clerks went to the AG’a office) and it might be easier to get than federal at this point. Though some states start hiring spring of 2L year so you’d want to look into it quickly.

I would also recommend finding some kind of PI internship for 3L (if not 2, one for fall and one for spring), as a way to get pertinent experience/connections. Even having them lined up could be helpful for school PI applications.

And yes, see if you can do a lit rotation at your firm. Doing so could help you spin an explanation for your change (e.g. “thought I wanted corporate until I got the chance to try lit out; thought I wanted biglaw but found my 1L government work has been SO much more fulfilling and so am changing directions”).

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Sinoper
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Re: Biglaw 2L SA to PI

Post by Sinoper » Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:29 pm

Thanks for the good advice. I've already started eyeing PI internships for both semesters, so I'm in a good place there. Do you suggest any resources to really assess the scope of PI opportunities out there? I've found a few buckets (e.g. legal aid, PD/DA, AG, Federal), but I'm not sure all what really exists beyond those opportunities.

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CS1775
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Re: Biglaw 2L SA to PI

Post by CS1775 » Mon Apr 22, 2019 4:33 am

PSJD is de rigueur to find public interest employers and positions. The Vermont Guide to state clerkships also is a good starting point assuming you want to do state clerkship --> AG. Both have wide gaps in their coverage, however.

If you're looking for market information in say, Nebraska (you mentioned fly-over country and population ranking in the 30s-40s), you need to talk to people in Nebraska. In states with smaller populations, there's simply less hiring done because there's a lower demand. Add on top of that the more conservative-minded hiring tendencies of red states (the only truly blue states in the 30s-40s p/population are NM, HI, RI, DE, and VT) means less funding for the state government and NGOs. So the people who know the markets are the people in the markets and in the positions. Check LinkedIn, check organization websites, and check with your law school's alumni relations, career development, and public interest offices.

If you want to work at your state's AG office, spend a semester-in-practice with your state's AG office 3L fall. The deadline for my law school's SIP application process has already passed, so I would suggest doing this ASAP.

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Nebby
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Re: Biglaw 2L SA to PI

Post by Nebby » Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:28 pm

Sinoper wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:43 am
How hard would it be to jump from a Biglaw 2L SA to PI? I'm about to start my SA in a month but pretty much regret going the biglaw route, as it just doesn't jive well with me on a fulfillment front. My T14 has fellowships, but I worry that I won't be competitive because my PI resume is just BAD w/o a PI 2L summer (I did summer 1L at a gov't employer fwiw). I'm also corporate-leaning, so my coursework reflects that, but, obviously, I'd be switching into lit. My 2L SA rotations will also be on corporate ones... Specifically, I'd love to return home to my State AG (think a state with a population rank between 30-40 in flyover country), work in some policy/lit healthcare/environment/etc. position, FPD eventually, or something like that. Would it be worth reaching out to my firm and trying to get a lit rotation for the summer? Any guidance would be helpful. Oh, also, I'm roughly median at my T14.

I kind of want to see if I have any options, because I'm also considering packing up shop and moving on from my law degree.
Sorry I'm so late. Biglaw for 2L SA won't kill your chances at PI. Hopefully you got some litigation experience this summer.

Did you try for any PI externships this upcoming year?

Clerking is an option. Try that, too. Also, apply to PI post grad jobs that interest you. Just plainly explain in your cover letter what about job interests you (both about the organization's mission and the specific work it does).

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