Jobs in Gender and Law
Frequently Asked Questions for Finding Gender Justice Jobs during COVID-19
I want to work in a gender and law-related field, but I don’t have a job lined up yet. Is that normal?
Nothing is normal this year, including hiring cycles in public interest, non-profit, law firm, and government jobs. Many non-profits and legal aid organizations serving women and the LBGTQ+ community hire for summer interns/externs and entry-level lawyers during the spring. This year, much of that hiring was supposed to happen just as the pandemic struck.
The bad timing doesn’t mean, however, that there will be no hiring. Some organizations are posting jobs, just later than usual. Many employers had to figure out whether and how legal interns could work remotely, leading to delays. Others, especially those serving criminal justice system-involved individuals, survivors of domestic violence, and low-income clients are simply overwhelmed by the emergency needs of their clients.
The timing is off, but there are still opportunities worth pursuing. Keep reading for suggestions on how to find a position.
I had a job lined up, but it fell through. What should I do?
If you are a WCL student, make an appointment with OCPD right away. They can help you to make a new plan. In addition, reach out to the Office of Public Interest, or the Women and the Law Program for ideas on searching for a new position related to gender and the law.
While you’re waiting for your appointments, read our Guide to Jobs in Gender and Law.
I have a job lined up, but I haven’t heard from my employer and I’m worried. What should I do?
Begin by acknowledging that hiring managers are also stressed-out and adjusting to an ever-changing “normal.” Ask gently about their safety and well-being, and be appreciative of their time. The rest of your note can be a relatively informal request for information.
Think something along the lines of: “Dear Employer, I hope you and the rest of the team are well during these difficult times. I remain excited to work with you at [Name of Organization] this [summer, coming year, etc.]. I am so sorry to bother you with details, but I am starting to plan for this [summer, coming year, etc.]. I write to ask if you plan to make any changes to [start dates, end dates of internship, plans for remote work, etc.] I do understand that everything is in flux, and I appreciate that you may still be in the process of making plans. I am grateful for any information you can offer.”
I’m in a state still under lockdown. What kinds of remote opportunities might be available in gender and law-related fields?
Many large governmental and international organizations that address women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights already had remote internship programs. Most non-profit organizations are creating new ones.
Sign up for the Women and the Law Program weekly student newsletter for the latest postings in gender and law-related fields, many of which are remote. In addition, WCL students should check in with OCPD to make sure that they’re seeing the positions posted through CareerLink. Alumni and community members should sign up for the Women and the Law Program Monthly newsletter, which lists jobs for more experienced attorneys.
I have a dream job in mind, but I haven’t seen any job postings for it. What should I do?
If you are interested in working for a specific organization, we recommend not waiting around for them to post a job. Here are several steps you can take:
- Check their website for any internship or job postings. Some organizations haven’t had the time to circulate postings more widely.
- If there is nothing posted online, politely reach out to the hiring department (managing attorney, HR department, or whoever seems to be in charge of interns) and ask if they are planning to hire remote or in-person interns or entry level attorneys this summer. The worst that can happen is that they don’t respond.
- Connect (email, LinkedIn, etc.) with any contacts you have at the organization, letting them know you’re looking for a position. This is not the time to be shy.
I’m not seeing any job postings in my field. I’m afraid I’ll never get my dream job. What should I do?
If you aren’t seeing any postings for jobs you’re interested in (and you’re a WCL student,) it might be time to make an appointment with OCPD, the Office of Public Interest, or the Women and the Law Program to figure out another path toward your dream career. We can brainstorm with you how to get the kinds of experience and skills you need, even if the job you thought you wanted isn’t available right now. You may be surprised at what you haven’t thought of yet!
Has COVID-19 changed what kinds of jobs might be available?
Unfortunately, the effects of COVID-19 will ripple throughout our communities for years to come. Domestic violence, evictions, and bankruptcy are already on the rise—and the unmet legal need in the wake of the economic crisis will be staggering. Public benefits, immigration, and consumer law, all of which have race and gender-related implications, will all see huge surges in demand. Consider volunteering in these areas to gain relevant experience.
Non-profit organizations might not have immediate positions available, but as the situation stabilizes they may have funding to meet the expanded needs in these areas. Students looking to make a difference in the lives of women and LGBTQ+ communities should seek out the organizations serving the people most impacted by the twin medical and economic crises and ask how they can help. Permanent jobs may be scarce now, but logging pro bono hours serves the dual purposes of helping our communities and gaining much-needed experience and contacts.
I don’t know many attorneys working in the gender and law-related field I want to go into. How can I network when we are all on lockdown?
Networking is both harder and more important than ever. With everything online, worlds can collide—so it’s up to you to harness the power of the internet for good.
Take this time to clean up your online presence, putting your most professional foot forward on social media. Employers hiring in gender and law-related fields want to know that you’re passionate about this work, while remaining respectful of others online. Make sure that your LinkedIn and other profiles are up to date and reflect your interest in working in a gender and law-related field. Your resume should highlight publications, leadership roles, or volunteer activities that show off legal skills and highlight your interest areas.
Once you’ve done all that, drop an email to past employers, mentors, or professors and mention that you’re looking for work. If you’re polite and respectful, they’re likely to pass along any opportunities they’re aware of. You can also ask them if they have other contacts in the field they’d be willing to connect you with for “informational interviews.” Fields like family law tend to be highly localized and a little mysterious, so don’t be afraid to ask people for advice on how to break into a practice area.
Another possibility for online networking are the national or local women’s or LGBTQ+ bar associations. Many are sponsoring online events and happy hours that might provide an opportunity to get to know local practitioners. You can also join a bar association committee. Many are still working during the crisis and would be happy to welcome a new and enthusiastic set of hands!
Has COVID-19 changed how attorneys will get their first jobs in gender and law-related fields?
Probably not. Most entry-level positions in gender and law related fields come via either personal contacts (see remote networking, volunteering, and interning question above) or through fellowship programs. If you haven’t done so already (and you’re a WCL student) make an appointment with the Office of Public Interest to learn more about post-graduate fellowships in gender and law-related fields or check out our handy guide.
My jurisdiction has delayed the bar exam. What impact will this have on post-graduate job searches?
The answer to this will vary from place to place and from employer to employer. WCL students should check in with the Office of Academic Excellence for the latest on bar exams, diploma privilege, and actions employers might take in the wake of changes to bar exam dates.