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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

Rising 2L and Entry-Level Job Search E-Advising Series: How to Make the Most of Your Summer Internship

April 21, 2022

To prepare you to get the most out of your summer internship, read our suggestions for navigating some common summer internship challenges students face, particularly around communicating with your supervisor or the intern coordinator to make a clear request for what you need.

International Travel Requirements

April 15, 2022

All HLS students who are receiving SPIF funding and will traveling abroad this summer, including international students returning to their home countries, must fulfill several pre-travel requirements prior to departing the U.S. If you have any questions, email International Legal Studies.

We want to hear from you! Complete OPIA’s year-end survey

April 7, 2022

OPIA’s end-of-year survey is a key opportunity to tell us what’s working well in OPIA — and what isn’t! We will use your thoughts to inform our planning for future years. All responses to the survey are anonymous.

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

March 24, 2022

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.

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