The Office of Public Interest (OPI) and the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) work in tandem to provide services and programming to develop skills and awareness about public interest and government legal careers.
The Assistant Director, Public Interest Specialist is a full-time counselor in the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD). The Public Interest Specialist counsels students in the areas of both public interest and government employment. Services include:
- resume and cover letter review and development,
- general job search strategies and resources,
- skills/interests assesments, and
- mock interviews.
The Public Interest Specialist also assists students with the post-graduate public interest fellowship application process and facilitates the Presidential Management Fellowship selection process for 3Ls interested in management and leadership positions with the federal government. In addition, the Public Interest Specialist partners with OPI, student groups, and outside organizations to facilitate programs focusing on career related topics.
To schedule an appointment with Christina Jackson, Assistant Director, Public Interest Specialist, contact OCPD at 202-274-4090 or stop by Suite 122. Appointments must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.
Fall Recruitment and On-Campus Interviewing
The Fall Recruitment process begins in the summer prior to your second year of law school and continues on into the beginning of the fall semester. This recruitment process is more heavily focused on private sector employers and brings many large law firms to campus. However, many government employers also recruit through this process and it is important not to overlook them. In addition, Fall Recruitment is more than just on-campus interviews and includes resume collections and direct applications as well.
Unlike law firms who do most of their summer hiring through Fall Recruitment, public interest organizations have many ways and times in which they interview and hire students for summer positions. For summer public interest positions, Fall Recruitment is just one avenue for students to apply and interview for summer public interest opportunities throughout the year. In addition, students should consider these options for finding summer public interest work: job postings and direct applications, attending career fairs and the WCL Externship Ffair, Spring Recruitment, and individual networking and outreach to organizations that are of interest. The OCPD Assistant Director, Public Interest Specialist is available to assist students with developing individualized job search strategies.
Career Fairs & Networking
Career fairs and networking events are excellent opportunities to learn about public interest legal careers, find an internship/externship, and build a network of contacts in the profession. Every year, OPI and OCPD host or support several career fairs and networking programs both at WCL and throughout the country geared towards public interest students. Below are a few examples of these programs:
Public Interest Speed Networking Event – This event provides an opportunity for local public interest and government legal employers to meet students exploring public interest careers. This is not a job fair, but instead a way for students to meet with local public interest and government lawyers, polish their informational interviewing skills, and learn about a variety of public interest organizations. 2Ls and 3Ls are invited to attend this event, which takes place in September.
Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair – This is the premiere national public interest career fair, held annually in the fall in the DC area. Think of this as Fall Recruitment for public interest students. A few weeks before the conference you may obtain online a list of the hundreds of attending organizations. Second and third-year students can submit resumes in advance and schedule interviews during the career fair. First-year students may participate in table talk, but are more limited due to the ABA rule that prohibits them from applying for a job before December. “Table Talk” consists of walking to Employers’ tables and speaking with representatives about the unique aspects of that organization. 2L and 3L students may also distribute their resumes and cover letters during table talk. This event gives you a terrific perspective on the array of public interest issues and organizations offering summer and full-time employment. For more information, visit the EJW website at http://www.equaljusticeworks.org/events/ccf/general.
Washington, DC/Baltimore Public Service Career Fair – This job fair is co-sponsored by six area law schools (including WCL) and the Federal Bar Association. In prior years, over 90 government and public interest employers have participated. All students are encouraged to attend this job fair, which is held in late January. For more information, visit the Federal Bar Association website at http://www.fedbar.org/careerfair.html.
Minority Job Fairs – The majority of diversity career fairs target first year minority students and occur in January or February. These fairs expose diverse applicants to a variety of legal employers in an effort to foster a workplace culture of inclusion that respects and values differences. Many of these job fairs focus on careers in the private sector; however, some public service employers are represented. Detailed information about minority job fairs can be accessed at http://www.wcl.american.edu/career/jobfairs.cfm.
Career Development Resources
OCPD provides a wealth of resouces to assist students with career exploration, job search and application skills, and direct employer outreach. These resources are available though the OCPD website and the resource library located in Suite 122. In addition, OCPD maintains memberships with many online and hardcopy directories, handbooks, and job posting websites that are accessible to WCL students and alumni.