For me, my public interest work started in my first 1L semester, when I volunteered as a student intern at our state public defender agency. I was able to earn a transcript notation, demonstrating to potential employers that I take my values seriously. That may have helped me get hired for a summer internship after my 1L year, because my employer was a public interest agency. In my 2L year, I enrolled in New England Law's Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic, and helped indigent clients in the fields of disability benefits and divorce. After another summer internship working as a public defender student attorney, I enrolled as a 3L in the Criminal Procedure II Clinic, which also is a public interest placement. I performed my clinical work at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS). Now, in my final semester, I continue to work as a public interest volunteer, which will earn me yet another transcript notation.
Employers gravitate to applicants who are well-rounded, and who find creative and productive outlets for the values about which they feel strongly. Regardless what area of law or non-law career a person moves into after graduation, employers want to feel their employees have deeper dimensions than merely what is on display from 9 to 5. They know that passionate and community-oriented employees have higher levels of satisfaction, and tend to be more stable and more grounded individuals. The public interest options at New England Law, and those that students here are encouraged to discover outside of the school context, send the clear message to employers that we are the kind of employees they want on their team. And even if that weren't true, New England Law is the kind of law school whose students generally are driven to public interest outlets anyway - simply because it's part of who we are. (March 2011)