Preparing to Get a Job

Researching Organizations in Specific Areas of Interest

Below is a list of resources to help you find organizations in the public interest field. As you conduct your research, be sure to learn about their mission, projects, new initiatives they are planning, and the types of employees they hire.

  • PSJD
    Search for organizations by topic, geographic region, or both. Find jobs, internships, fellowships and summer funding sources.

  • Equal Justice Works -
    Contains a list of public interest and government organizations that attend the annual fall Equal Justice Works Career Fair, the nation's largest public interest career fair. Learn more about financing a public interest career. Explore fellowship opportunities.

  • Idealist -
    Search jobs and organizations in the public interest community. Postions are not limited to the legal field.

  • Serving the Public: A Job Search Guide -
    Harvard Law School publishes a handbook and directory for law students seeking public service work. This guide is an excellent introduction to public interest law, with information on practice areas and organizations, as well as job search strategies, interview tips, and listings of domestic and international work opportunities. Available in the OCPD library.

  • OCPD Mentor Database
    The WCL Mentor Program enables students and alumni to contact practicing alumni for the purposes of networking, general career advice, and informational interviews. Determine if any WCL alumni work at organizations in which you are interested. Alumni are amazing resources for you to learn more about particular fields of law.

  • Martindale-Hubbell -
    Determine if any WCL alumni work at organizations in which you are interested.

Applying for a Public Interest Job

There is no "best time" to apply for a public interest job. You should be exploring opportunities all through the year. Some of you may find a great public interest position in September, through Fall Recruitment or the EJW Career Fair, others may find their dream summer or post-graduate job during the Spring. In fact, many public interest employers begin their recruitment process in the Spring, as opposed to private employers who recruit heavily in the Fall.

Resume & Cover Letters

Resumes and cover letters for public interest employers can be quite different than those submitted to private sector employers. The following steps can help you build a good resume and cover letter.

  1. OCPD Resume & Cover Letter Tips (Resumes | Cover Letter)
    Begin here to get a basic understanding of resume and cover letter requirements.

  2. Serving the Public: A Job Search Guide
    This book describes the components of a strong resume and cover letter in the public interest field and provides sample public interest resumes and cover letters. Available in the OCPD library.

  3. Correspondence - Making Your Letters to Potential Employers Sing!
    This cover letter chapter, in Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams, by Kimm Walton, highlights what makes a standout cover letter. Available in the OCPD library.

  4. OCPD Career Counselors
    OCPD career counselors are available to review your resume and cover letters and provide feedback. You can request your counseling appointment online with CareerLink.

Fall Recruitment

Several government and public interest employers participate in Fall Recruitment. Be sure to register on CareerLink to participate. Check out the document library or stop by OCPD to pick up important Fall Recruitment materials.

Post-Graduate Fellowships

Generally, public interest fellowships fund new attorneys for one or two years while they work to serve underrepresented populations or causes. Fellowships normally start the fall after graduation from law school, so application deadlines begin as early as September of your third year. If you are interested in pursuing a fellowship, you should meet with the public interest specialist in the OCPD as soon as possible to begin developing your application. Visit the resources below to learn more.

Office of Career & Professional Development • American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 122 Washington, DC 20016 • 202-274-4090 F: 202-274-4096