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What is OPIA and how can we help?

We are a career services office at Harvard Law School specializing in public interest law. We offer one-on-one career advising and job search coaching appointments, a comprehensive website full of resources, networking connections to practicing public interest lawyers, and in-person educational and community building events. We also administer a range of post-graduate public interest fellowships.

What are public interest law careers?

Public interest work covers a wide range of issue areas, practice settings, and work types. Learn more about public interest law careers.

What should I be thinking about as a 1L?

You are beginning a process of exploration, reflection and decision-making that may last your entire career. But right now, concretely, you will be focusing on your 1L summer job search.

Key summer job search goals:

  • Try out an area of the law (civil rights, environmental, antitrust, etc.), type of employer (government agency, nonprofit, union, etc.), or legal skill (litigation, policy, transactional, client-based work, etc.) that might be of interest to you professionally; i.e., begin to answer the question: “what kind of law practice is the right fit for me?”
  • Begin to demonstrate a commitment to public service generally, and perhaps to a particular field of interest or type of practice specifically.
  • Build your connections to organizations and practitioners working in fields that may be of interest to you.
  • Build marketable skills (e.g., client interviewing, drafting skills, etc.).

How do I find a summer public interest job?

You can start by checking out our Job Search FAQs, which cover topics such as resume and cover letter writing, preparing for interviews, and negotiating offers. In addition to our Job Search FAQs, we have created this guide specifically for the 1L summer job search.

Step One: Reflection and Planning (beginning in Fall and continuing throughout the year)

Step One: Reflection and Planning (beginning in Fall and continuing throughout the year)

Step Two: Identifying Potential Employers (can begin in Fall)

Step Two: Identifying Potential Employers (can begin in Fall)

Step Three: Preparing Materials (November through January) and Applying (as of December 1)

Step Three: Preparing Materials (November through January) and Applying (as of December 1)

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Remember to review and, if necessary, clean up your online presence. Employers may do an online search of you, and your online presence should be professional. Make sure you review your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), email signatures, and voicemail. Also make sure your LinkedIn profile is professional and up-to-date.

Step Four: Interviewing and Managing Offers (beginning in December and continuing through March)

Step Four: Interviewing and Managing Offers (beginning in December and continuing through March)

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If you have not gotten any offers and are starting to panic, don’t! Make an appointment with an OPIA advisor to talk about your options and come up with a game plan.

Step Five: Funding, Visas, and Housing (beginning in January and continuing through April)

Step Five: Funding, Visas, and Housing (beginning in January and continuing through April)

Step Six: Making the Most of Your Summer (beginning in Spring and continuing through Summer)

Step Six: Making the Most of Your Summer (beginning in Spring and continuing through Summer)

The Latest for 1Ls from OPIA's Blog

The Latest for 1Ls from OPIA's Blog

Exploring Public Interest Resources at HLS: Interviews

November 23, 2020

Interviews take on particular significance with public interest employers, who give tremendous weight to how deeply you are committed to their mission and how well you would fit in with their office. The following resources can help you prepare to put your best foot forward in public interest interviews.

We Want to Hear from You! Complete OPIA’s Fall Services Survey

November 19, 2020

OPIA’s fall services survey provides you with an opportunity to tell us what has been working well in OPIA this term — and what isn’t. Your feedback is extremely important to us, and we will use your thoughts to inform our planning for the winter and spring terms. All responses to the survey are anonymous.

Exploring Public Interest Resources at HLS: Career Options in Public International Law

November 18, 2020

Interested in learning more about public international law work? These resources can help you begin your exploration.

Exploring Public Interest Resources at HLS: Career Options in Nonprofit Work

November 12, 2020

Interested in learning more about nonprofit work? The following resources can help you begin your exploration.

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