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OPIA resources for alumni include general counseling, advice on networking, application material review (resumes and cover letters), mock interviews, and access to job postings. In addition, OPIA has a variety of publications and materials that will assist you in your job transition. Please keep in touch with us and schedule an appointment with the alumni advisor for personalized attention to your job-search needs!

Working in the Public Interest

Self-Assessment

Self-Assessment

In order to determine the type of public interest work that is right for you, begin with a candid self- assessment using the materials available online at OPIA Self-Assessment Tools. At a minimum, try to identify the key qualities you want in a job by considering the following:

  • What matters most to you in your professional work?
  • How can you best use your talents?
  • What do you love doing the most?
  • What skills has your current job demanded from you, and which do you most enjoy using?
  • To what type of work are you drawn?
  • At what do you feel most successful?
  • What kind of balance do you seek between work and family or personal time?

Job and Fellowship Search Timeframe and Tools

Job and Fellowship Search Timeframe and Tools

Job-seekers do not find jobs overnight, particularly in public interest law. Public interest hiring tends to be sporadic, usually occurring only when an attorney leaves or when funds exist to create a new position. Allow yourself at least six months to a year, know that some searches take several years, and try not to be discouraged when early leads do not pan out or employers tell you that they are not hiring. Give yourself the time to make an informed and strategic decision rather than leaping at the first job opportunity that presents itself. By taking the time to think carefully about your next step, you can increase the likelihood of finding work that is fulfilling on both a personal and professional level.

In addition to the job search databases below, there are many others that focus on particular types of industries, job environments and regions of the country. For help identifying additional sources for job postings, make an alumni advising appointment.

Networking and Informational Interview Tools

Networking and Informational Interview Tools

Networking is often the key component of a successful job search. While it may feel daunting at first, once job seekers start to talk to people in their field of interest, they often find the results so rewarding that it becomes much easier (and enjoyable) to continue. The goal of networking should not be to find out about a particular job opening. Rather, networking allows you to learn more about an area that you are considering so that you can make informed decisions about moving to that field. That said, since the public interest legal community is often small and close-knit, networking can sometimes lead to employment.

Once you have constructed a list of potential contacts, you should begin to set up informational interviews. Remember that, while networking can sometimes lead to hiring, that is not the primary purpose of these interviews. Rather, your objective is to gain a better sense of the field and learn about possible routes to a specific job opening. Make it known that you are looking to change jobs, and enlist others to help you. Learn more with our networking tips.

Building Public Interest Experience

Building Public Interest Experience

Public interest employers are especially interested in job applicants who have demonstrated some previous commitment to public interest work, and, ideally, have some experience in the particular area of law with which the organization is involved. Listed below are some helpful ways to begin developing experience in public interest practice.

Application Materials

Alumni Webinars and Podcasts

Alumni Webinars and Podcasts