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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

Appointments are Still Available with Wasserstein Fellow Ben Botts, Legal Director of the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.

January 16, 2020

Interested in impact litigation and migrant rights? Sign up for an appointment with Ben Botts, Legal Director of the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., from Jan. 29-31.

Ben engages in impact litigation, direct services and community education focused on removing the U.S.-Mexico border as a barrier to access to justice. His work has a specific focus on the rights of migrants who travel to the U.S. to work on H-2A agricultural and H-2B non-agricultural temporary work visas. Prior to working at Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Ben was a trial attorney with the Office of the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor, where he handled appellate litigation in federal courts of appeals, legal advice, and regulatory matters. In 2012, he moved to the Regional Solicitor’s Office in San Francisco, where he focused on litigating wage and hour cases in low-wage industries, winning an order of more than $2.2 million in back pay and penalties for hundreds of farmworkers on H-2A visas.  Visit “Our Services” to sign up for an appointment. 

RSVP to OPIA’s Public Interest Networking Reception

January 15, 2020

When: January 30, 2020 6:00 pm
Where: WCC Milstein East ABC

OPIA’s Public Interest Networking Reception is a great way to learn about summer internships and post-graduate fellowships. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Business casual attire suggested.

RSVP!  

Your 1L Public Interest Job Search: Job Search Check-In

January 15, 2020

Advisors are available to help with whatever job search questions you may be facing. If you have special concerns about your summer job search, please make an appointment to discuss your search with OPIA.

Annual Robert M. Cover Public Interest Retreat Registration Deadline Approaching

January 10, 2020

The Robert M. Cover Retreat on Feb. 21-23 brings together law students, academics and practitioners committed to public interest to share their experiences, network and reinvigorate their commitment to this important work. Registration deadline is February 7, 2020.

Check out the evolving list of practitioners and register for the retreat!