Archive for Career Resources

PJSD’s 10-Step Program to Keep Your Job Search Warm This Winter

Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Penguins on an Interview
Whether you’re looking forward to finishing your first semester of law school or looking forward to starting your last one, the best holiday spirit is the one that puts you in the mood for career planning. We here at PSJD hope you’re able to take a well-deserved rest from classes, but you can’t afford to let your job search efforts freeze over. To help your job search stay warm through winter without burning you out, we’ve come up with ten concrete activities you can take on between now and New Year’s to be ready to impress your future employers in 2015.

The gist of our ten-step program is below, but stay tuned: We’ll be covering each of these tips in greater detail in upcoming installments of PSJDblog over the weeks between now and the end of the semester.

Tip 1: Review Your Resume & Cover Letter

Perhaps the most important task you can do, especially with limited time. All too often, strong candidates undermine their own candidacy with resumes and cover letters that contain typos and/or are simply not compelling. Review your materials carefully before they are sent, ask a friend to proofread them, and, of course, meet with an OCPD career counselor to review your documents.

Tip 2: Take Advantage of Holiday Gatherings and Festivities

Holiday mixers are an opportunity to let people know:

  1. Who you are;
  2. The kinds of employers and opportunities you are targeting; and
  3. What you are looking to accomplish in your legal career.

This is especially true if you’re job searching in a geographic area different than your law school. You need to get out into the legal community and meet people so that when you’re applying for internships or postgraduate positions, you have some connection to the market. Additionally, many firms and non-profits have their end of the year celebrations. This is a great time to talk with people in a more informal (read less stressful) way. But remember, you’re trying to make professional connections, so act accordingly.

Tip 3: Craft Your Pitch

Speaking of making connections, you need to have your “pitch” created so that you don’t look like a deer caught in the headlights when someone asks you: “So, what do you want to do?” No matter which legal sector you target, being able to quickly and convincingly articulate your skills, interests, and accomplishments is key to presenting yourself in a compelling and focused manner. We will be discussing how to craft your pitch in an upcoming installment of the Holiday Job Search Tips series.

Tip 4: Take Time to Review Your Online Presence

Consider what you are viewing, downloading or linking to on your social media. Be mindful of your connections and public image — As you know, the Internet has a long memory and footprints can be indelible.

Tip 5: Set Up Informational Meetings

We used to call these informational interviews. The point is, you ask the questions to gather information and make connections. Since people may have more time during the holidays, request informational meetings with college and law school alumni who practice in the areas you wish to pursue. Make sure you have clear and cogent questions, and express thanks for their time with a prompt thank you note follow up. You will find this practice especially important if you wish to expand your job search beyond the geographic confines of your law school or home town. Once you’ve had these meetings, make sure you record the information you’ve gathered and periodically follow up with relevant contacts as you continue job searching and beyond.

Tip 6: Visit the Courthouse

Consider observing a judicial proceeding overseen by a judge or in a court you are targeting for a clerkship or internship. Not only will this provide a compelling opener to your cover letter, but it could possibly create an opportunity to speak with the Judge’s law clerk about your interest. While you’re at it, reach out to any lawyers you observe arguing a case of interest to you.

Tip 7: Offer Seasonal Help to a Local Legal Aid Office, or…

another public sector employer who might welcome a lending hand with some legal research or project-based work. Volunteering is always an excellent way to gain experience and demonstrate interest in a particular organization or client base.

Tip 8: Write an Article, or at least…

consider a topic that might be interesting to you. We’re not talking law review here; there are many professional associations, bar organizations, periodicals and trade publications that are content-starved. Publishing opportunities abound and are relatively easy to leverage. For instance, PSJDblog is always looking for guest bloggers. Consider getting yourself out there early and establishing yourself as knowledgeable in a particular area.

Tip 9: Join a Relevant Bar Organization

Many students get scholarships, summer funding, awards, and recognition from national and local bar associations. In addition, full- and part-time job opportunities may arise though meaningful bar association contacts and involvement. Attending their CLE programs is another great way to make contacts and gain valuable resume experience.

Tip 10: Update your Professional References

Too many times to count, I’ve checked references with someone who had no idea what job the candidate was applying to and even that they were being used as a reference. The end of the year is a great time to check back in with the people who’ve offered to be your reference in the past. Let them know what you’re up to and at least give them a general sense of where your job search is taking you now. Also, evaluate your references. Are they still relevant for the types of legal positions you’re now seeking? If not, determine who else could potentially be a reference and make that connection.


Building Networks and Expertise: PSJD helps keep you up-to-date on legal conferences in your area.

by Sam Halpert, PSJD Fellow (2014 – 2015)

PSJD is about legal careers. And legal careers are about networking. (I know you know, but if you’re at all like me you need frequent reminders.) For that reason, we changed one of our key resources last May.

PSJD’s “Public Interest Career Fair Calendar” is now PSJD’s Public Interest Career Fair and Events Calendar. Traditionally, this resource was for helping students find traditional career fairs in their area, such as (for example) the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair happening next month in Bethesda, Maryland (register by October 10th!). Now, the calendar also includes events covering substantive issues in public interest and government law that are open to the general public, such as the Emory Public Interest Committee’s 11th Annual Public Interest Conference happening in Atlanta, Georgia this Saturday, September 27th (the topic is “Legal Issues in Fostering & Adopting”). In the future, we hope to migrate the calendar to a more expected calendar layout. For the time being, at least, we’ll also promote these events through the PSJD Facebook page shortly before they occur.

Unlike our previous system, this means that not every event in the calendar may be meaningful to you. While career fairs often appeal to a wide slice of the public interest pie, these substantive events are narrower. However, we hope you’ll find this shift helpful. Remember: You can’t just look for work by answering job postings and attending career fairs. You need to meet the people in your field and familiarize yourself with their attitudes and issues. Become knowledgeable. Become known. Substantive conferences—especially ones that happen off your campus or outside your city—can help with that. And PSJD, with the help of its law school subscribers, can help you hear about them.


TWO New Government Careers Resources on PSJD!

2 New Resources

in the Government Careers Section of PSJD’s Resource Center!

The 2014-2015 Federal Legal Employment Opportunities Guide (FLEOG) is now available for download on PSJD!  FLEOG offers a broad-based review of different career opportunities and paths to employment for law students and graduates who are interested in federal legal careers.  A big thank you to our Publications Coordinator, John Bain, for all his hard work on this very valuable resource.

The 2014 Public Defender Handbook is now available. This publication is ideal for students looking for public defender internships and postgraduate jobs.  The Handbook is divided into three main sections, (1) Frequently Asked Questions about public defender careers (2) a listing and brief descriptions of the major public defender offices that regularly hire post-graduate attorneys and (3) a listing of capital defense offices that hire entry-level attorney. The Handbook also includes an appendix with very specific examples of hypothetical interview questions and interviews with leaders at public defender agencies.

Thanks to our friends at NYU, and especially Rachel Peckerman, Esq., Associate Director, Public Interest Law Center, NYU School of Law. for sharing the Defender Handbook.


Disability hiring in the federal government.

Even with unemployment still running high, the Federal Government is having difficulty hiring qualified employees.  In particular, the Federal Government is actively recruiting and hiring persons with disabilities.  If  you are such a person seeking federal employment, here is some specific guidance.

The Federal Government has a special (excepted) hiring authority for persons with disabilities called Schedule A.  You are eligible for Schedule A if you are a person with severe physical disability, a psychiatric disability or an intellectual disability.  You can find out more, including sample Schedule A letters and a training video on applying for Schedule A jobs, on OPM’s website.

Additionally, most Federal agencies have a Selective Placement Program Coordinator (SPPC) who helps management recruit, hire and accommodate people with disabilities. SPPC’s have many roles and responsibilities, including helping people with disabilities get information about current job opportunities, types of jobs in the agency and how these jobs are filled, and reasonable accommodation.  There is a nationwide SPPC Directory to help you get started.  Also, check out the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s LEAD (Leadership for the Employment of Americans with Disabilities) initiative to address the declining number of employees with targeted disabilities in the federal workforce. The goal for this initiative is to significantly increase the population of individuals with severe disabilities employed by the federal government.

The Federal Government has made hiring candidates with disabilities a priority.  If you are eligible, take advantage of their recruiting resources.  Federal agencies can be a great place to work.


Top 6 Career Mistakes Made by Law Students


The Canadian Lawyer magazine recently posted a list of blunders law students make while trying to get their legal career off the ground. Here are few key mistakes that were mentioned:

“Mistake #3 – Not choosing a practice area before you complete your studies“: This is incredibly important! Employers want to see that you’ve made a demonstrated commitment to their practice area. It will also be pretty hard to compete against other law students who have experience directly related to a particular legal field.

“Mistake #5 – No legal web site or legal blog, only Facebook“: These days, it’s easier than ever to start your own website. You can use blogging platforms like WordPress or Tumblr for a free and user-friendly experience, with the option to upgrade to a more costly but customizable site. It’s a great way to set yourself apart from other applicants and provide easy access to your resume and legal writings.

Click here to check out the full list on the Canadian Lawyer website!


Deadline Extended to 04/25: NALP/PSJD Summer 2014 Publications Coordinator in Washington, DC

If you are a law or graduate student with a background in journalism and/or publishing, this one’s for you!

We just extended the deadline for our Summer 2014 NALP/PSJD Summer Publications Coordinator position. We’re looking for an awesome intern who can work with us for 10 weeks to produce the 2014 Postgraduate Fellowship and Federal Legal Employment Opportunities guides.

The selected Publications Coordinator will be joining our Washington, DC office for the summer. The stipend is $675/week for a 40 hour work week.

Still interested? The new deadline is April 25, 2014. Click here for more information.

If you already know you’ll be in Washington, DC for the summer but still looking for funding, you still have time to apply for one of PSJD’s part-time Project Assistant positions!


International Bridges to Justice Launches the 2014 JusticeMakers Competition

International Bridges to Justice, an international nonprofit dedicated to protecting the basic legal rights of ordinary citizens in developing countries, recently launched the 2014 JusticeMakers Competition.

Members of the legal community are invited to submit their innovative ideas for projects directed towards ending torture as an investigative tool. Winners will receive seed grants of $5000.

The application deadline is June 26, 2014 (which is also International Day in Support of Victims of Torture). Click here for more information.


Still Need to Fund Your Summer Public Interest Work? PSJD’s Got You Covered!

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

Landed an awesome internship this summer, but in desperate need of funding? PSJD is here to help!

We just updated our Summer Funding Resource pages, available in the Funding & Debt section of the site’s Resource Center. Click here for a list of organizations that offer funding for internships located anywhere. For summer funding resources for work in a specific geographical region, click here.

Most of the deadlines fall in March and April, so head over to the Resource Center right away! These lists are continuously updated as the organizations renew their application cycles. PSJD is always checking for new deadlines. Stay tuned to the site for new updates!


JUST ADDED: Two New Public Interest Law Happenings on the PSJD Career Fair & Events Calendar

Looking for the latest public interest law conferences, career fairs and events? PSJD has got you covered!

We just updated our Public Interest Career Fair and Events Calendar – look for upcoming dates in bold. The two most recently added events are the Washington Council of Lawyers’ “Meet the Jolly Good Fellows: Tips on Public Interest Fellowships from Current & Former Fellows” coming up on March 18th, and “Career Paths for Young Attorneys in the Energy Sector,” an April event hosted by the LSU Law Center and the Institute for Energy Law (IEL).

Do you have an upcoming event that you’d like to post to the PSJD Events Calendar? If so, we’d be happy to help! Just shoot us an email to with the details.


BLSA & DC Public Defender Service Partner Up for 2014 Criminal Defense Trial Practice Institute

Want to spend your spring break brushing up on your lit skills? The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia has got you covered:

The Black Law Students Association Alumni Committee of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia is pleased to present the 2014 Spring Break Criminal Defense Trial Practice Institute (Institute).  The Institute seeks to help students cultivate effective trial advocacy skills and explore indigent criminal defense work.  The program consists of a week of workshops on how to conduct opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations, and closing arguments.  In addition, students will learn how to develop theories of defense, master the rules of evidence, and impeach witnesses at trial.  At the end of the program, students will participate in full-length mock trials presided over by Superior Court judges.

The Institute will be held March 10 - March 14, 2014.  The program is free of charge to students, although students are expected to provide their own transportation and lodging.

To apply, students must be a member of the school’s Black Law Students Association and commit to the entire program. Students should submit their applications electronically by clicking the link under the ‘events’ tab of the PDS website,  The deadline to submit  applications is Friday, February 26, 2014.

If you have any questions, contact Jennifer Thomas, the Legal Recruiting Director, at Good luck!