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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 Job Search E-Advising Series: What Can I Do Before I Receive 1L Advising?

September 18, 2019

We look forward to getting to know you in the coming months and to helping you learn more about public interest career opportunities. Although you cannot receive formal career advising until October 15, you can still take affirmative steps now to begin your career exploration.

Meet one-on-one with Wasserstein Fellow Alice Abrokwa ’12, Senior Staff Attorney with the National Youth Law Center

September 13, 2019

Interested in getting an in-depth perspective on impact litigation? Sign-up to meet with Wasserstein Fellow Alice Abrokwa ’12, senior staff attorney with the National Center for Youth Law, from Sept. 25-27. Learn more.

Sign-up for one-on-one advising with Kristen Nelson ’04, Director of the Powell Project

September 11, 2019

Sign-up for a one-one one advising session with Kristen Nelson, ’04, Director of The Powell Project. Kristen will be advising in OPIA’s office on Friday, October 4th from 10:30 am- 1 pm.  Sign-up for an appointment.

Sign-up for one-on-one advising with Enga Kameni LLM’10 of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)

September 6, 2019

Sign up for a one-on-one advising session with Dr. Enga Kameni ’10, Manger, Legal Services of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). Dr. Kameni will be advising in OPIA’s office on October 3 from 9am -11:30am and from 3:30pm-5pm. Visit “Our Services” page to sign up for an appointment. Learn more about the one-on-one advising opportunity with Dr. Kameni!