Archive for Legal Education

A Notice to Public Interest Law Students and Employers: Recent Changes to Law Clerk Hiring Plan Could Affect Your Summer

Besides housing PSJD, the National Association for Law Placement, or NALP for short, is an association of over 2,500 legal career professionals who advise law students, lawyers, law offices, and law schools in North America and beyond. The NALP Judicial Clerkship Section has a special message they would like to share with the PSJD community about recent changes to the federal law clerk hiring plan. These changes will affect summer internship scheduling and could possibly create conflicts of interest and other issues for employers and participating law students.

From the NALP Judicial Clerkship Section:

Last month, the federal judges’ committee overseeing the federal law clerk hiring plan announced a modification to the 2013 hiring schedule. Instead of hiring 3Ls after Labor Day, the new application submission date for federal clerkships is Friday, June 28. Beginning June 28, judges can review applications from rising third-year students, schedule and conduct interviews, and extend offers.  This change also affects state court clerkship hiring, as some states have moved their hiring dates in response to the federal change.

Employers who are currently welcoming second-year students into your summer programs may be confronted with issues not faced since the late 1990s. Some students will be coming to their summer jobs already committed to a judicial clerkship commencing in 2014, or perhaps 2015. Some students will have applications pending with judges or will be submitting applications to judges in June, in accordance with the new hiring plan date. Judges reviewing applications during the summer are likely to schedule interviews in June or July, which may present scheduling challenges for students.

Factors employers may want to consider include:

  1. If an intern receives one or more clerkship interviews, will he/she be able to miss work to travel to interviews?
  2. Does your organization have technology such as videoconferencing or teleconferencing available to students for clerkship interviews?
  3. Who is the best person at the organization for students to talk to about questions or issues that arise surrounding clerkships, including possible conflicts of interest on cases/matters, and when is the best time to have that conversation?

Students, we encourage you to discuss the implications of this timeframe with your career services offices and with your employers, paying special attention to the questions above, where relevant to you, and to due dates for assignments that fall around late June and early July, when judges may be interviewing.

We hope this blog post will offer a starting point to frame the issues and develop responses attuned to your individual programs. Many of your law school colleagues have begun to deal with these issues and would be eager to continue a discussion with you. We encourage you to be in touch with colleagues at schools from which you hire interns, to benefit from their insights and share your perspectives with them as you both seek to provide students the best advice and opportunities.

The NALP Judicial Clerkship Section leaders and members look forward to the opportunity to talk through these issues with public interest employers. This message was brought to you by:

NALP Judicial Clerkship Section Chairs: Melissa Lennon (Temple, 2012-13); Amy Perez (Miami, 2013-14)

NALP Judicial Clerkship Section, OSCAR Work Group: Susan Staab (Chicago), Vice-Chair; Marilyn Drees (Yale); Sheila Driscoll (George Washington); Eric Stern (Berkeley)

NALP Judicial Clerkship Section, Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan Work Group: Amy Killoran (Georgetown), Vice-Chair


Want to get a handle on educational debt? Check out these upcoming webinars from Equal Justice Works!

It pays to be smart about student loan debt, especially for public interest advocates! Take a look at this message from our friends at Equal Justice Works:

Welcome to May! Here in DC, winter has finally relented completely and the pollen counts have begun to climb relentlessly.  Despite the latter, we have a full schedule of free webinars that provide a comprehensive overview of the federal debt relief options available for students and graduates. Our May webinars are:

Drowning in Debt? Learn How Government and Nonprofit Workers Can Earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Thursday, May 16, 3-4 p.m. EST

Thursday, May 30, 3-4 p.m. EST

A must attend for anyone with educational debt planning to work or currently working for the government or a nonprofit, this webinar explains how you can benefit from income driven repayment plans, including President Obama’s new Pay As You Earn program, and exactly how Public Service Loan Forgiveness works.

Enter to Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

As summer approaches, it’s also time to start thinking of escaping to the beach. Which entails, of course, light summer reading. We recommend bringing our new eBook, Take Control of Your Future, which provides the in-depth information on powerful federal relief programs like income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness students and graduates need to manage their student debt and pursue the careers of their dreams.

If a comprehensive guide to borrowing and repaying student loans isn’t your preferred beach reading, make sure enter our $100 Amazon Gift Card Sweepstakes.  Just enter the promo code MAY1. And feel free to pass on information about Take Control of Your Future and the promotion to everyone on your summer vacation list.

 While you’re in the office, don’t forget to read our weekly U.S. News blog, the Student Loan Ranger. It will keep you up to date on issues such as fixing legal education, the implications of President Obama’s budget for student loan borrowers and the student debt of Members of Congress.


Get control over your student loans with Equal Justice Works’ Educational Debt Webinars

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

It’s April already! In addition to filing your taxes and major spring-cleaning, make sure you add Equal Justice Works’ educational debt webinars to your calendar for this month. These webinars make financial literacy as easy as the click of a registration button, and EJW has a ton of student loan debt resources and news. Read on for the message from our friends at EJW:

Has your student debt become a financial burden you are struggling to deal with? Are you worried about the amount you are borrowing to pay for college or graduate school and wondering if you will be able to repay it all? If so, Equal Justice Works is here to help.

 We provide in depth information on powerful federal relief programs like income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness that can help anyone manage their student debt and pursue the career of their dreams. Our eBook, Take Control of Your Future, details the steps you need to take to manage your student debt now and in the future.

 Every month, our free, live webinars also provide a comprehensive overview of the federal debt relief options available for students and graduates and provide viewers with the opportunity to ask questions. Click here to view a schedule of our webinars and to register for an upcoming session.

 Our April sessions include:

 How to Pay Your Bills AND Your Student Loans: Utilizing Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Friday, April 12, 2-3 p.m. EST

 Saddled with high student debt? This webinar reviews income-driven repayment plans, including Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment and the new Pay As You Earn Plan, which allow borrowers with high debt relative to their income to reduce their federal student loan payments.

 Get Your Educational Loans Forgiven: Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Thursday, April 18, 3-4 p.m. EST

For recent graduates with jobs in government or at a nonprofit, this webinar explains how to make sure you immediately begin fulfilling requirements to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness so that your educational debt will be forgiven as soon as possible.

 Finally, make sure you keep up with the new events shaping the student debt crisis by following our weekly U.S. News blog, the Student Loan Ranger. Last month we covered the effect of the sequester on higher education funding, the role of underemployment in the student debt crisis and the decline in law school applications.


No Big Difference in Legal Job Market for Class of 2012: Entry-Level Employment Rates Stay the Same

by Ashley Matthews

From the National Law Journal:

Employment rates held fairly steady last year, according to data from the American Bar Association. Nine months following graduation, 82 percent of graduates had secured some form of employment—the same percentage as the class of 2011.

On a more positive note, 56 percent of the graduates secured long-term, full-time jobs that required bar passage, a 1 percent increase over the previous year. (This job category is widely seen as the most desirable).

However, there also was a 1 percent increase in the number of unemployed graduates, which stood at 11 percent nine months after graduation.

The article cites a couple of reasons the legal job market may be idling out, and also points out that J.D.-Advantage jobs are on the (slow) rise:

The class of 2012 faced a tough employment market not only because legal hiring has slowed, but also because there was more competition. The most recent graduating class was the largest on record at 46,364—more than 5 percent larger than the class of 2011, according to the ABA. (That figure is expected to decline because applications and new student enrollment has fallen off.)

There was also a slight uptick in the percentage of recent graduates in long-term, full-time jobs in which a J.D. is an advantage, if not a requirement. Nearly 10 percent of recent graduates landed jobs in that category, up by 1.4 percent from a year ago. J.D.-advantage jobs of any kind, including short-term and part-time, accounted for 13 percent of new graduate employment.

Confused about what exactly a J.D.-advantage is? Check out NALP’s informational video on where exactly this non-traditional route can take law grads.


Bar Exam Resources: Tools to Help You Get Certified (And a Public Interest Law Bar Prep Scholarship!)

by Ashley Matthews

If you’re gearing up to take the bar exam this summer, take a look at the Bar Exam Toolbox to help yourself get ready! This site was created specifically for recent law graduates who are prepping for the bar exam. It contains links to resources that will help you succeed and blog posts on everything from making sure you’re ready to take the exam, to when you should actually start hitting the books in preparation.

If you’re a public interest law student, you may also want to consider applying for BarMax’s Public Interest Scholarship. A BarMax scholarship will cover 60% of the program’s price, making the bar review course only $395 for students working in public interest/service. Student loan expert Heather Jarvis gave the BarMax prep program a thumbs up, so it may be worth a shot.

Good luck!

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Looking for Financial Assistance While Studying for the Bar? Apply for the AEF Bar Assistance Grant!

The Asian American Bar Association Educational Fund is currently accepting applications for the 2013 AEF Bar Assistance Grant!

This fellowship award grants a $1,500 stipend and a reduced-fee Barbri course to recent graduates who have taken or are planning to take a 2013 bar exam prior to embarking on a public interest legal career. The only catch is that the job must benefit either the Asian Pacific American community and/or the metropolitan Washington, DC community-at-large. AEF created the self-funded fellowship because public interest and government employers rarely provide direct financial support to their employees for bar-related expenses. With this award, grantees don’t have to take out additional loans or find part-time jobs while studying for the bar.

With that being said, the AEF Bar Assistance Grant is a great way to relieve some of the financial pressure associated with taking the bar, allowing grantees to focus on passing the bar. The deadline to apply is May 1, 2013!



Penn, Northwestern and UCLA Law Schools Boost Scholarship and Loan Repayment Assistance Programs

Earlier this week, NALP‘s student debt expert Heather Jarvis  led a webinar for public interest employers on recruiting and retaining the best legal talent in spite of their student loan debt. During the webinar, Jarvis explained the ins-and-outs of loan repayment options and forgiveness provisions. These programs are beacons of hope for all public interest law students with small salaries and looming debt, and they provide great relief in the struggle to finance a public interest law career.

For this reason, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Northwestern University School of Law, and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law all deserve a round of applause for recently boosting their loan repayment assistance (LRAP) and scholarship programs.

The National Law Journal reports that Penn has overhauled its LRAP to cover all student loan debt for alumni earning less than $80,000 a year. Northwestern increased spending on its LRAP and scholarships by 25%, and also cut down on its enrollment. And UCLA received a $1 million donation for student scholarships.

More from the National Law Journal article:

“The pressures created by high student debt discourage many graduates from law schools and other professional schools from pursuing vital careers and accepting job opportunities in public service,” said Penn dean Michael Fitts.

According to NALP, formerly the National Association for Law Placement, the median entry-level salary for a legal services attorney is just shy of $43,000, while new public defenders and prosecutors can expect to earn about $50,000 a year. New public-interest lawyers tend to earn between $45,000 and $47,000, NALP said. By contrast, the median starting salary at at law firms of 50 attorneys or less is about $80,000.

In addition to making its loan repayment program more generous, Penn is launching a unique program dubbed the Reward for Sustained Service. After three years working at a public-interest or government law job, Penn alumni earning $80,000 or less are eligible for an additional payment that they can apply to principal loan debt, living costs and other expenses. The amount is determined on a sliding scale based on salary and years of service, but participants can receive as much as $22,800 between the third and tenth years of their careers, said Tory Messina, associate director for public interest and government counseling. She did not know of any similar programs elsewhere.

“I’m really proud of the program,” Messina said. “It really expands the amount of loan repayment that’s available to our graduates.”

Participation in the school’s loan-forgiveness program has doubled since 2010, Messina said.

Click here for the full article.


Duke Law School Launches D.C. Summer Institute on Law and Policy

Photo from

If you’ll be in Washington, D.C. this summer and are interested in gaining a better understanding of U.S. and foreign policy, Duke Law School is currently accepting applications to participate in short courses at their new Summer Institute on Law & Policy. During the evening classes, Duke Law faculty will lead sessions on topics including Federal Policymaking, Health Care Law & Policy, National Security Law and Foreign Policymaking.

The program is open to students from other law schools, as well as upper-level college students, graduate and professional students, and professionals working in Washington D.C. Here’s some information from their website:

Duke Law’s new D.C. Summer Institute offers short courses taught by Duke Law faculty on topics of broad interest to college students and professionals working in D.C., such as constitutional and regulatory law, the legislative process, and the legal framework in which public policy is formulated and implemented. Evening courses offered during two, two-week sessions will focus on law and policy in specific areas such as national security, financial institutions, environmental law, and health care. The Institute is designed for those considering law school or careers in the public sector, professionals working in public policy, and others who are interested in how the law shapes policy and regulation in the United States.

The first session is from July 8 – July 18, 2013 and the second session is from July 22 – August 1, 2013.  Applications are available on the DC Summer Institute website, and should be sent in before April 15, 2013.


Client-Centered Opportunities: New Law School Clinic Announced, Devoted Specifically to Pardons

Last week, former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr. announced the formation of a new law school clinic at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. The clinic will focus primarily on clemency and pardons. This initiative is innovative not only because it is the first clinic of its kind, but because 5 different law schools competed to house the program.

Since the United States has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, this clinic will more than likely offer great relief to a very large and marginalized client community that has been relegated to second-class citizenship upon release, and offer insight into a presidential pardon system that often unfairly favors white applicants.

Speaking of clients: Earlier this week, the National Law Journal published an article detailing how law schools can prepare students to become more “client-ready” through regular coursework, in addition to clinical and capstone opportunities:

Undoubtedly, the limits on clinic seats led the ABA to write into the resolution a call for additional client contact outside the clinical setting. And it is here, in the nonclinical experiential courses, that law schools need to turn some client-centered attention, because it is in those courses that most of the curriculum takes place. What lawyers and the public actually want from law graduates is a sense of how to work with clients. Lawyers are paid to counsel clients and to advocate for their clients, whether they are people, companies, governments or nonprofits. As FMC Technologies Inc.’s general counsel, Jeffrey W. Carr, said in the 2011 New York Times article, “The fundamental issue is that law schools are not capable of producing people who are capable of being counselors.”

The article, written by Rutgers School of Law clinical professor Ruth Anne Robbins, goes on to call for law school faculties to “move the focus of nonclinical experiential courses toward the notion of client,” more than is already being done. Students and professors alike seem to be ready for more innovation within law school curriculum, so how can we as a public interest legal community aid in this process?


Get Published in the African Journal of Clinical Legal Education & Access to Justice!

Published annually by the Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI) Nigeria, the African Journal of Clinical Legal Education & Access to Justice is devoted to law and legal education of significant research value. The Journal focuses primarily on developments within clinical legal education, justice education, and access to justice.

The Journal is currently inviting articles and commentaries for publication. (NULAI Nigeria is also hosting a Law Clinics Essay Writing Competition, open only to students and graduates of law clinics in Africa.) Articles are usually accepted for submission at anytime, but articles for the October 2013 edition must reach the editor before May 31, 2013.

Click here to view a list of guidelines for exclusive publication. Applicants can send articles and commentaries that meet the stated criteria to Ernest Ojukwu, Editor-in-Chief, at Good luck!