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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 Summer Job Search FAQs, which cover topics such as resume and cover letter writing, preparing for interviews, and negotiating offers and monitoring our 1L Summer Jobs Feed for the most recent summer jobs we receive. In addition, 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

LGBT Bar Association of the District of Columbia Summer Equality Fellowship

May 7, 2021

The LGBT Bar Association of the District of Columbia’s 2021 Summer Equality Fellowships will support law students who have a summer position working at D.C.-area LGBT legal nonprofit organizations with up to $750. The deadline to apply is May 24, 2021.

Learn more about the Equality Fellowships.

New General and Post-Grad Job Search FAQs

April 2, 2021

We’ve expanded our popular summer public interest job search FAQs with additional answers to common general and post-grad public interest job search questions to help you get started or answer questions wherever you are in the process. Check out all of our FAQS!

1L E-Advising Series: Still Looking for a Summer Internship?

March 25, 2021

If you haven’t yet secured an internship for this summer, don’t panic. There are still a number of public interest employers that are actively hiring in late March and into April. If you put in the effort, apply broadly, and are persistent, you WILL find a summer a job.

Keep these Dates in Mind as You Plan Your Summer

March 18, 2021

OPIA has compiled a few key dates that may be useful as you plan your summer internships and other commitments, including the confirmed 2020 EIP dates.

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