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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

1L E-Advising Series: Choosing Clinics, Courses, and Extracurriculars for 2L Year

February 25, 2021

We are often asked by students interested in public service work about how to weigh their wide-ranging academic options while in law school. Our advice gives broad guidance on the choices you may be contemplating.

Do Not Renege on an Accepted Offer

February 24, 2021

Accepting a job or internship is a final decision. Once you have accepted an offer, it is critical that you honor your acceptance. Reneging on an accepted offer can both harm your professional reputation and impact opportunities for other HLS students. If you have concerns about a particular offer or employer, speak with an advisor before accepting.

Explore further guidance on evaluating offers and follow our tips on managing offers in a professional manner.

California Lawyers Association & the California Lawyers Foundation Summer Law Student Scholarship

February 11, 2021

The Labor and Employment Law Section of the California Lawyers Association and the California Lawyers Foundation will be awarding summer scholarships to diverse law students for Summer 2021 in the amount of $8,000 each. The purpose of the scholarships is to provide funding to diverse law students to engage in legal endeavors in an employment or labor related field and may be non-compensated or undercompensated.

Applications due Monday, March 15, 2021. Learn more about the scholarship and apply!

Exploring Public Interest Resources at HLS: Professionalism Guide and Job Search FAQs

February 5, 2021

Unsure about how to begin your summer job search? Contemplating listing your GPA or LSAT score on your resume? Wondering how to describe your non-legal experiences in your cover letter? Nervous about how to respond to e-mails and phone calls from employers? Review our answer some of the most common 1L job search questions.

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