Public service jobs refer to legal careers in the public sector as oppposed to the private sector (private law firms, corporations). Public service jobs include working for state and federal government, non profit organizations, NGOs, state and federal legal aid programs and other similar types of organizations.
Law students are attracted to public service jobs for a variety of reasons, both personal and practical. Public service may be the inspiration for a law student’s entry into law school. Alternatively, public service may suit a particular law student’s work life balance needs. Public service jobs are also considered to be a launching pad to other careers and opportunities including jobs in politics, government and the private sector.
Law schools offer a variety of resources to help students navigate the multitude of opportunities in public service. Some of these resources include:
- Counseling services. Most law schools offer one-on-one counseling to students and alumni. These counseling sessions are designed to develop the specialized strategies needed to seek and obtain these challenging and rewarding positions.
- Funding Opportunities- Law schools offer a wide array of funding opportunities to students. These include summer funding as well as fellowship and scholarships.
- Contacts- Law schools often will provide students with contacts and alumni worldwide.
- Job Postings- Most law schools have database on the web containing summer and permanent public interest and government job postings as well as information on fellowships.
- Community- In most universities, there are communities of government and public interest-minded students, faculty, and alumni. These communities consist of groups of law students interested in public interest work.
- Pro Bono Work- Public service opportunities also include opportunities to develop skills and experience through the Pro Bono pledge.
- Programs & Workshops- Law schools organize lectureship series highlighting alumni who have incorporated public service into their legal careers. There are also numerous other public service career oriented programs and workshops that universities conduct.
- Loan Repayment Assistance- Law schools generally give loan repayment assistance programs which makes a career in public service financially feasible.
In order to meaningfully support the ambitions of public-interest and -service minded students, many law schools guarantee summer funding to second-year students pursuing qualified work at a public interest organization or government agency. Any student pursuing this work in his or her second summer will receive a substantial amount in institutional support.
The support granted by universities does not end at graduation. Law schools offer various kinds of fellowship for public service jobs. Moreover, most law schools also help students address practical financial planning concerns even in the absence of fellowships.