Archive for August, 2012

Job o’ the Day: Policy Advocate with the Center for Medicare Advocacy in DC!

The Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington, DC is looking for a Policy Advocate to provide writing, analysis and advocacy regarding access to health care, due process, and other related issues for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries. The Policy Advocate will also be actively involved with the Center’s legal research, analysis, writing and educational activities and will serve as the liaison for the organization’s Medicare Maximization work. In addition to leading the Center’s policy and communication efforts, the Policy Advocate will also assist with federal litigation and community education.

The Center prefers to hire a Police Advocate with a law degree, Master’s in Public Health, or an equivalent degree with at least 5 years of experience. For more information, view the full listing at PSJD.org (log-in required).

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Have You Nominated a Law Student for Our Pro Bono Award? (Nominations Due 9/7)

Do you know a law student who’s a public interest/pro bono rock star?  NALP is seeking nominations for the 2012 PSLawNet/PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award. 

Download the Nomination Form Here!

Purpose: To recognize the significant contributions that law students make to underserved populations, the public interest community, and legal education by performing pro bono or public service work.

Eligibility: The Pro Bono Publico Award is available to any second- or third-year law student at a PSJD Subscriber School. The recipient will be honored during an Award Luncheon at NALP’s Public Service Mini-Conference on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at the Washington, DC office of Crowell & Moring, LLP. The award recipient will receive transportation to Washington, a one-night stay in an area hotel, a commemorative plaque, and a small monetary award.

Award Criteria: Law students are judged by the extracurricular commitment they have made to law-related public service projects or organizations; the quality of work they performed; and the impact of their work on the community, their fellow students, and the school. Though a student’s involvement in law school-based public interest organizing and fundraising is relevant; actual pro bono and public interest legal work will be the primary consideration. 

Nomination Deadline & Packet Contents: Nominations must be received by Friday, September 7, 2012 at 5pm Eastern Time, by fax, mail, or email (see contact information at bottom). Along with the nomination form and a résumé, nomination packets may include any materials which support a nominee’s candidacy; such as letters of recommendation, statements detailing a nominee’s work, and media articles. 

Thanks!

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Job o’ the Day: Legal/Policy Internship with the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (DC-based)

ICAR seeks a bright and dedicated law student to work as an intern on a number of campaigns that address corporate accountability and human rights concerns.  

ICAR is a coalition of leading human rights organizations that harnesses the power of the human rights community to identify and promote robust frameworks for corporate accountability, strengthen current measures and defend existing laws, policies and legal precedents.

The intern will assist with various ICAR workstreams, including but not limited to:  creating and promoting international standards of human rights due diligence, promoting corporate accountability and transparency in labor and mineral supply chains, and working toward standards of liability for private military and security companies.  The intern must be able to attend meetings in Washington D.C. with our organizational partners and government stakeholders.

View the job listing on PSJD (login required).

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Expert Opinion: Ten Tips to Nail Prosecutor and Public Defender Interviews

[Editor’s Note: we are re-launching our Expert Opinion blog series!  Every Thursday the PSJD Blog will feature a post containing career advice and other information from a variety of leaders in the public interest community.]

Ten Tips For Nailing Prosecutor/Public Defender Interviews

By: Chris Teague*

This gentleman knows from whence he speaks.

At the 2012 NALP Annual Education Conference in Austin, TX, I moderated a program titled “Hypothetically Speaking: Preparing Students for Prosecutor and Public Defender Interviews.”  The panel featured Rory Stein (the Miami Public Defender), Jeremy Sylestine ( of the Travis County, Texas District Attorney’s Office), and Rachel Peckerman (of NYU School of Law’s Public Interest Law Center) and offered excellent advice on how to approach interview hypotheticals. The panelists stressed that applicants should be prepared to articulate clearly why they want to work as a DA/PD.  They also offered many tips for handling hypos.  Here are my top 10, along with a list of frequently-encountered themes: 

General Tips

  1. Be wary of answering questions by stating that you would check with your supervisor.  Hypos are designed to see how you react when confronted with very difficult fact patterns.  While your gut reaction may be to immediately consult your supervisor for help, it is important that you avoid the urge to “pass the buck” and instead deal with the difficult situation head-on.  If you believe the circumstances warrant the involvement of your supervisor, it may be OK to say so, but make sure your answer doesn’t end there.  Elaborate on this response and give your own assessment of the facts.   
  2. Show your work.  Even if your answer is wrong (keep in mind that some hypotheticals don’t have one correct answer), make sure to talk through your analysis.  The interviewer will likely give you credit for demonstrating a logical approach or asking thoughtful questions, even if you ultimately arrive at the wrong answer. 

Tips for Prosecutor Interviews

  1. Remember that a prosecutor’s primary goal is to pursue justice.  While it is important to demonstrate your willingness to uphold the law and to request incarceration if warranted, some prosecutor’s offices will ask questions that test your ability to see the bigger picture.  Also keep in mind that prosecutors represent the state, not the victim.  The victim’s interests may not always be in line with the state’s. 
  2. Don’t disregard the Constitution no matter how serious the crime.  A prosecutor should never condone the violation of a defendant’s Constitutional rights, even when doing so appears to be advantageous.  Always go with the ethical, Constitutionally-sound answer.  
  3. Be on the lookout for exculpatory evidence.  This is a popular interview topic.  Some hypos may deal primarily with a prosecutor’s obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence.  But be aware that other hypos – ones that appear to address a completely different topic – may secondarily touch upon exculpatory evidence.  If a question mentions evidence that may be exculpatory, even if it seems like a minor part of the question, you should discuss that evidence in your answer.  
  4. Demonstrate sensitivity with reluctant victims and witnesses at all times, even when their reluctance negatively impacts your case.  This does not mean that victims and witnesses should always control how you handle a case, but rather that their opinions and concerns should be addressed in an appropriate and considerate way. 

Some common themes you may encounter:

  • Exculpatory evidence (Hint: If the interviewer gives you information that might weaken or impede your case, it might be exculpatory.)
  • Handling a reluctant witness (Hint: Reluctant witnesses sometimes appear as a scared or recanting domestic violence victim, or as a victim with collateral concerns, such as immigration issues.)
  • Role of the prosecutor (Hint: If the hypo concerns a victim with credibility issues or doubts about the case, a lying police officer, weak evidence, or a misidentification issue, part of your answer may want to demonstrate your understanding of the prosecutor’s role in pursuing justice.)
  • Search and seizure issues (Hint: You may be asked to advise a police officer how to proceed with the investigation of a suspicious person who is suspected of carrying contraband.)

Tips for Public Defender Interviews

  1. Always zealously advocate for your client.  Advocating for your client may negatively impact a victim or witness; that is OK.  Unlike prosecutors, public defenders must act in the best interest of their clients, not in the pursuit of justice. 
  2. Caveat: While you are zealously advocating for your client, be sure that you do not violate the law or any ethical rules. 
  3. Demonstrate that you are completely comfortable representing people who have committed crimes.  Some applicants focus on their interest in representing defendants who have been unjustly accused of a crime.  This is certainly a noble endeavor, but be aware that public defenders often must represent people who “did it.”  Regardless, all criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law and deserve the best defense possible.
  4. Recognize the importance of earning a client’s confidence.  You may be asked to role play a client intake interview or otherwise demonstrate your ability to communicate with a client and build trust.  Be prepared for the “client” in your role play to be withdrawn or possibly hostile.

Some common themes you may encounter:

  • If your client has told you that he committed the crime, is it ethical for you to argue to a jury during closing argument that “the defendant is absolutely innocent of these charges”?  (Hint: A defendant is innocent until proven guilty.  An attorney can – and should – use the closing argument to present his or her interpretation of the evidence presented during the trial.)
  • Clients changing his or her story (Hint: You may be asked how you would handle a client who initially denies the charges and subsequently admits guilt.)
  • Strategy conflict with client (Hint: Be open to client input, but be ready to respond to a client who wants you to do something that you believe would be harmful to the case.

Visit PSJD’s Government Careers page for more resources on prosecution and public defense careers.  Good luck!

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*About Chris Teague:  Chris is Associate Director of Career Services at Boston College Law School, after a 10-year career as an Assistant District Attorney in boston and as a defense attorney.  He currently serves as the NALP Northeast Regional Representative and is a past Chair of NALP’s LGBT Section.  Chris is an active member of the Massachusetts Legal Recruitment Association (where he currently serves as Secretary) and the Massachusetts Law School Consortium, and he is a frequent speaker and author on a wide range of career- and technology-related topics.

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PSJD will be at the 23rd Annual Public Interest Career Reception in NYC!

Tonight, approximately 400 law students are expected to attend the 23rd Annual Public Interest Career Reception, held at the New York City Bar Association. Co-sponsored by more than 20 law schools from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, the event offers law students the opportunity to network with potential employers and learn more about careers in public interest law.

The networking reception is fairly informal, and students can also mingle with public interest-minded alumni from participating schools. Student participants will be able to get up close and personal with a variety of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private public interest law firms.

PSJD will be in the building to talk to students about navigating the public interest job hunt, so look out for our table if you’re in attendance!

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Looking for Civil Legal Services Jobs? Remember to Follow the Funding.

By: Steve Grumm

The jobs picture  has not been rosy for law students who are pursuing careers in civil legal services.  Funding cuts have hurt many organizations.  Layoffs and hiring freezes have been implemented.  (Read this report from the Legal Services Corporation about layoffs even as more and more would-be clients need services.)

It’s important, then, for job seekers to keep abreast of funding developments.  Where there is new funding, there may be new jobs.  Attorneys general throughout the U.S. are channeling millions of dollars to the legal services community so that its lawyers can serve low-income clients with housing problems.  The source of funding is a multi-million dollar class-action settlement over fraudulent mortgage foreclosure practices.  Individual states, in most cases through their attorneys general, have been directing some of this settlement money to legal aid organizations.   See this recent news out of Illinois, Nevada, and Washington State.

We track these developments in our weekly news bulletin, which we release every Friday.   I know it can be disheartening to read a lot of bad news about public interest jobs – to say nothing of the effect that job cuts have on client communities.  But there are good funding developments out there, and we consistently post legal services jobs on PSJD.  So keep up with the latest news and don’t lose heart.

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Job O’ the Day: Voting Rights Fellowship in Washington, DC!

The National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials (NALEO) seeks a Voting Rights Fellow to lead and coordinate a broad range of voter protection related activities on behalf of the National Latino Civic Engagement Table (NLCET), a consortium of organizations that includes the NALEO Educational Fund, Center for Community Change, the Hispanic Federation, the Labor Council for Latin America Advancement (LCLAA), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mi Familia Vota, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Presente.org, and Voto Latino. Duties will include coordination with member organizations’ communications teams around earned media, and identifying strategic opportunities for opinion-shaping and community education on voting rights issues.

The Voting Rights Fellow will also work closely with members of the Table working on community-focused voter protection efforts, to ensure coordination and maximization of organizational resources, and provide updates on emerging relevant issues at the national, state, and local level. Lastly, the Voting Rights Fellow will serve as a liaison between the NLCET and the larger voter protection infrastructures in which the NALEO Educational Fund and its partners participate, including but not limited to the Election Protection Coalition and Voting Rights Taskforce. Regular tasks will require project visioning, management, and execution; composition and editing of external documents; coordination and leading of group meetings and presentations; and management of external relationships with a diverse array of partners and stakeholders.

View the full listing here (login required).

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The Ultimate Checklist for Public Interest Law Students

by: Ashley Matthews

1. Research Debt Management Tools and Create a Budget.

Student loan debt is perhaps the biggest reason many law graduates don’t enter the public interest sector. Before you jump headfirst into public interest law, research the basics of managing student loan debt. Find out if your law school participates in a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). It’s also very important that you get to know the College Cost Reduction & Access Act of 2007, which created the Income Based Repayment Plan and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for qualified borrowers. For more information, check out PSJD’s Guide to Financing a Public Interest Career. Be honest with yourself about what is economically feasible for you, and enter your public interest career with eyes wide open to all available opportunities to lower your debt.

2. Find and Define Your Passion.

As soon as possible, you should begin narrowing down what type of public interest law you are interested in practicing. If you are interested in family or juvenile law, keep track of all your experiences working with children. If you spent a lot of time volunteering at a community clinic, maybe you would enjoy practicing health law. These types of community service activities are a great way to not only show your dedication to prospective employers, but to prove it as well. Even if you don’t have a demonstrated commitment to one particular area, now would be a good time to start narrowing it down. Search PSJD.org to create a list of non-profits or other organizations that work in the field you are passionate about, and contact them about available volunteer opportunities.

3. Plug into your school’s public interest community.

A supportive environment can make a big difference in whether or not you choose to actually pursue public interest law. Have you learned about your school’s public interest advising and career counseling resources? Do any of your school’s professors have backgrounds and interests related to public interest law? Does your school require or encourage law students to commit a certain number of hours to pro bono work? Are there grants available to fund public interest work done by law students? These are some of the basic questions you should be asking – which brings us to #4.

4. Schedule an appointment with your law school’s career services office.

Schedule an appointment with your career services advisor. If your school has a specific office set up just for public interest-minded students, even better! Let them know you are interested in pursuing public interest, and don’t be afraid to let your passion shine through. Highlight some of the organizations you would like to work or volunteer with – your advisors may already have existing connections to them. Also, ask your advisor if there are any upcoming public interest events in your legal community, such as networking receptions or benefits, that you could possibly attend. Last but not least, ask for any information on funding summer public interest work.

5. Join relevant student organizations.

This is a great way to meet like-minded students and demonstrate your commitment in another way besides work experience. In addition to any narrowly focused organizations (such as a criminal law or environmental rights student groups), try to join your law school’s student-run general public interest organization. Do your best to take on any leadership role that is best suited to your unique talents, and meet as many people in the legal community as possible! Be creative in coming up with ways your law school’s public interest groups can engage not only fellow law students and lawyers, but the outside community as well – specifically low-income or marginalized populations.

6. Apply for a clinic suited to your public interest passion.

All the passion, planning, and extracurricular activities in the world cannot make up for hands-on experience. Your law school’s clinical opportunities present a terrific way to get experience on your resume. Clinics allow participants to grow as student attorneys under the watchful eye of supervising lawyers and fellows, and also discuss substantive issues safely in a classroom environment.

7. Volunteer at a local organization.

Apply on your own to volunteer at a local organization while in law school. You can use PSJD to search for local non-profit organizations, government offices, legal services organizations, and private public interest firms that may have available opportunities. Public interest lawyers use a wide variety of methods to help provide access to justice for their clients – including, but not limited to, individual representation, community organizing, impact litigation, education or policy reform. Research each opportunity to figure out which type of representation fits best with your interests.

8. Create a list of all upcoming public interest career fairs.

Career fairs are a great way to have face-to-face conversations with potential employers. Your law school’s career services office more than likely has a variety of resources with career fair dates, and PSJD continuously updates our Public Interest Career Fair Calendar. Even if you are not currently looking for full-time or summer employment, you may meet someone at a career fair that could be of great benefit to your job hunt in the future.

9. Make yourself stand out in your cover letter.

The reality is that all students applying for public interest jobs should (and more than likely will) have: passion; a demonstrated commitment; clinical, internship and extracurricular experience; and strong networking skills. If these are the basics on every resume that a potential employer reads, how will you stand out? Think about any creative and unique skill sets you may have that can match an unmet need of the organization you are trying to work for. Play up these characteristics or attributes in your cover letter! PSJD’s Resource Center has great tools to help create your best cover letter and resume.

10. Use PSJD.org!

PSJD is specifically catered to public interest law students and lawyers, so take advantage of all the resources and information available on the site. Keep track of your “dream jobs” by adding them as favorites. Set up customized email alerts to get the most recent public interest job postings right in your inbox. Browse PSJD’s Resource Center for information on fellowships, interview tips, and more. And keep following this blog – along with PSJD’s Facebook and Twitter pages – to stay up to date on public interest news and career resources.

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Job(s) o’ the Day: Staff Attorneys at South Carolina Legal Services!

South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS), a statewide law firm that provides civil legal services to protect the rights of low-income South Carolinians, is looking for two staff attorneys to join its office in Columbia, SC. Practice areas include, but are not limited to, consumer, housing, and family law.

SCLS is looking for candidates that are members of the South Carolina bar with excellent litigation and trial advocacy, research, and legal writing skills. In addition, applicants are expected to have demonstrated competence in working with diverse clients and client communities.

For more detailed description, view the full listing at PSJD.org (log-in required).

 

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Job o’ the Day: Legal Officer for Pretrial Justice with the Open Society Foundations

Here’s a terrific international human rights opportunity: Based in the Open Society Foundations’  New York office, the Legal Officer for Pretrial Justice, National Criminal Justice Reform (NCJR), will engage in litigation, oversee the development of pilot projects, direct research and supervise consultants and staff as part of the Global Campaign for Pretrial Justice. The Global Campaign seeks to promote rights-based pretrial detention and legal aid reform as an issue of priority on the agendas of relevant governments, private and state donors, and inter-governmental organizations. The Global Campaign aspires to create sustainable mechanisms of funding and project implementation on these two important inter-related issues. The objective is to foster greater investment and attention to the problem of excessive pretrial detention and the challenge of providing adequate legal representation to the indigent by creating a more active “market” for ideas, research and programing in these two areas.

View the full job listing here on PSJD (login required)!

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