Career Development

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.

Career Counseling

The Assistant Director, Public Service Careers is a full-time counselor in the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD).   This OCPD staff member 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 Assitant Director, Public Service Careers 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, this OCPD staff member partners with OPI, student groups, and outside organizations to facilitate programs focusing on career related topics.

You may schedule an appointment online with Laura Scott, Assistant Director, Public Service Careers via CareerLink. 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 Fair, Spring Recruitment, and individual networking and outreach to organizations that are of interest. The OCPD Assistant Director, Public Service Careers 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:

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/law-school/conference-and-careerfair

The Washington College of Law Externship Mini-Fairs – The Externship office will host externship mini-fairs by practice area in the fall (Late October and November). These fairs are only open to 2L’s and 3L’s. Students will receive an invitation to these fairs from the Externship office so stay tuned and keep them on your radar! For more information visit the Externship Office.

The Washington College of Law Externship Fair -Every year, over 130 employers attend the Fair to recruit students for summer, fall and spring externships and internships. This event provides an opportunity for students to meet with a wide variety of representatives from law firms engaged in pro bono work, not-for-profit organizations, government agencies, and courts. Participants include numerous divisions of the United States Department of Justice and other government agencies such as the FCC, the SEC and the Departments of Commerce, Education, and State. Also in attendance are prosecutors from a variety of jurisdictions and the public defender services for D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, as well as dozens of public interest organizations such as the ACLU and the Legal Aid Society. During the Fair, students gather information, network and participate in informal interviews with employers. In the past, many organizations were able to complete their summer recruitment in this relaxed environment. All students are encouraged to attend. This is a great opportunity for second year students to network with employers who have hired WCL students as externs, interns and as attorneys. Many of the Fair Representatives are WCL alumni. The fair is usually held in late January.

As the date of the Fair approaches, please refer to the MyWCL Externship Page for a list of employers attending the fair, helpful hints for preparing for the Fair, and additional information. A Directory and Map of the Fair will also be available on MyWCL.

Washington, DC/Baltimore Public Service Career Fair – This job fair is co-sponsored by a number of area law schools (including WCL) and the Federal Bar Association. Students of sponsoring schools can participate in formal interviews, resume collection and table talk on the day of the program. 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, please contact Laura Scott, Assistant Director, Public Service Careers, OCPD at American University Washington College of Law (202-274-4098) or Jennifer Pollard at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law (410-706-2080).

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 | 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.

OPI | To stay up to date and receive any new information about student opportunities and summer funding from the Office of Public Interest (OPI), please consider subscribing to the Public Interest Express (PIE). Each week, OPI sends out a digest / newsletter that contains information about public interest events, pro bono opportunities, student opportunities, postgraduate jobs and more. Only one email is sent over PIE each week, so don’t worry, OPI won’t clog your inbox.

OPI also posts information on various social networks so get connected!  Click this link and press the "like" button to follow OPI on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/WCL-Office-of-Public-Interest/131829670173068. Join the LinkedIn group for public interest students and alumni of WCL by visiting the following website: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/WCL-Public-Interest-Students-Alumni-4898523/about. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/auwcl_opi

To learn more about summer funding opportunities please visit the Office of Public Interest’s Summer Funding Sources page . Here you will find information about popular summer funding sources, WCL specific summer funding sources, and more. 

PSJD | Job listings in the PSJD database, which are all public interest listings, include internships (fall, spring, and summer), postgraduate fellowships, and a wide variety of permanent positions. PSJD also includes over 13,000 organizational profiles for nonprofit, government, and other public interest employers spanning the globe. Registered users may search the database, flag and store opportunities for later viewing, receive email alerts with newly posted opportunities, and apply directly for opportunities via PSJD. PSJD’s Resource Center  is also a wonderful tool to learn more about the variety of summer funding resources that are available to students. If you have not already, create a free PSJD account here.

Immigration | Graduates who are looking for employment in the field of immigration should be aware of the following resources:

http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/nonprofit/jobs/

http://www.nationalimmigrationproject.org/career.htm