The OPIA Blog

Exploring Public Interest Resources at HLS: Career Options in Nonprofit Work

Nonprofit organizations are organizations whose mission focuses on furthering a social cause or a shared goal or mission and is an umbrella term to describe a wide range of groups. Some nonprofits serve particular client populations (for example, immigrants or youth) or specific sets of issues (such as environmental, disability, or human rights). Some nonprofits are direct service-oriented working primarily to represent individual clients within the organization’s area of focus, while others use more systemic interventions, such as impact litigation and policy advocacy to bring about social change. Each nonprofit organization is unique in its mission and approach, and many nonprofits engage in multiple strategies to advance their mission.

Because they do not generate revenue and resources are often limited, many nonprofits are very excited to host legal interns over the summer. If you’re interested in learning more about legal nonprofit work, check out the following resources:

  • The OPIA website provides an overview of nonprofit and legal services organizations.
  • OPIA’s public service organization database is in Helios, where you can read student evaluations of summer internships at a wide range of nonprofit organizations. In addition, you can search among the thousands of nonprofit organization profiles in PSJD, the National Association for Law Placement’s public interest careers website.
  • OPIA’s Career Guides offer background information and general career advice on subjects ranging from Animal Law to National Security to Women’s Rights. They discuss nonprofit legal practice in each of the issue areas and include narratives from practicing nonprofit lawyers to help you learn more about what day-to-day practice looks like in this setting. Students interested in civil legal services work should be sure to check out our Legal Services Guide.
  • Make an individual advising appointment with OPIA advisers to discuss working in a nonprofit practice setting and identify organizations whose work aligns with your areas of interest.
  • OPIA’s videos of past nonprofit events feature attorneys from nonprofit organizations providing advice on how students can pursue summer, entry-level, and lateral opportunities.  
  • HLS Amicus helps you connect with alumni communities through one-to-one advising and group mentoring.