Explore Public Interest

PSJD.org

One of the best places to explore public interest fields is PSJD.org, an easy and effective tool for law students and employers. On PSJD.org, you’ll find information and job postings from over 200,000 public interest employers.

Berkeley Law students can create free accounts, allowing you to:

  • Browse the Resource Center for information on application materials, career paths, fellowships, funding, and more.
  • Search for public interest job postings and employer profiles.

Keep up with the latest public interest news and developments by following the PSJD blog.

If you are looking for more information and resources on any public interest field, you can always make an appointment to meet with one of the public interest counselors in CDO to talk about your interests.

Practice Area and Practice Setting Resources

PSJD.org

The National Legal Aid and Defenders Association: The NLADA is the national trade organization of legal aid and defender programs, as well as individual equal justice advocates. The “Jobs” area of the NLADA web site also includes internship and permanent positions in civil legal services, defender organizations, pro bono and public interest organizations, public interest law firms and academia.

Hiring Practices of California Public Defender Offices (2017)

This guide, recently updated by UC Davis School of Law for the Northern California Consortium of Law School Career Services Offices, provides county-by-county information on law student & post-graduate hiring practices of California Public Defender Offices.

Yale Law School Criminal Defense Guide (2016)

The Career Development Office at Yale Law School created this guide, which includes information about the work done at different kinds of public defender agencies and organizations. The guide includes some information about hiring processes, and several in-depth career path narratives from practicing attorneys.

Public Defender Handbook (2014)

This guide, produced by the NYU Public Interest Law Center, provides guidance about the hiring process for internships and permanent jobs, and a listing and brief description of some of the larger public defender offices that regularly hire post-graduate attorneys. Contains tips on interviewing, including responding to hypotheticals.

CDO’s Guide to Public Defender Offices Outside of California (2011)

This guide compiles information about selected public defender offices nationwide. It is not meant to be a complete guide to all public defender offices in the country, but rather a starting point to identifying offices for students interested in public defense work outside of California.

Internship Opportunities in Capital Defense Offices

Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic maintains this very useful guide.

FD.org

Vacancy announcements for positions in Federal Public Defender Offices, Federal Community Defender Offices, and other select positions related to federal criminal defense.  Not an all-inclusive list of every available vacancy within the Federal Defender system; always check with individual offices about vacancies.

Interviews with public interest attorneys doing policy & civil rights work related to criminal law. (Videos require Calnet ID.)

These video interviews were conducted with alumni of the Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowships in August 2010.  Interviewees share insights about their career paths & their current work, and give advice to students.  Contact Alex Lee for information about how to contact interviewees, and any questions about the Soros Justice Advocacy post-graduate fellowships.

  • Neelum Arya, Research & Policy Director at the Campaign for Youth Justice, which is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.
  • Miriam Aukerman, Director of the Reentry Law Project at Legal Aid of Western Michigan, where she specializes in assisting clients overcome the civil consequences of criminal convictions.  In early 2011, Miriam left Legal Aid of Western Michigan to become the West Michigan Regional Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Michigan.
  • Andrea Black, Executive Director of the Detention Watch Network, which works with community-based organizations around the country to reform the U.S. immigrant detention and deportation system.
  • Vanita Gupta, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU and Director of the ACLU’s Center for Justice, which addresses systemic problems in the U.S. criminal justice system.
  • Benita Jain, Co-Director of the Immigrant Defense Project, which advises and trains criminal defense and immigration attorneys, community groups and families on the immigration consequences of criminal dispositions, and promotes immigrant-protective impact litigation.
  • Andrea Marsh, Founder and Executive Director of the Texas Fair Defense Project, which works to improve the fairness and accuracy of the criminal justice system in Texas, primarily by improving the quality of indigent defense in the state.

Federal 

While U.S. Attorney’s offices do not hire law grads directly out of school, there are numerous opportunities to do summer or academic year internship in offices throughout the country.  The DOJ website offers information on volunteer legal internship opportunities.

Harvard Law School’s Fast Track to a U.S. Attorney’s Office

State and Local Prosecutor Careers
Immediate law graduates and experienced attorneys are hired by local and state prosecutors. Law students may also gain experience through summer and academic-year internships.

Yale Law School’s Guide to Criminal Prosecution Careers 

Harvard Law School’s “Sizing up the Prosecution” Guide

The National District Attorneys Association website contains links to prosecutors’ office websites throughout country. 

The National Association of Attorneys General website also contains useful information about careers in state-level prosecution.

California District Attorney Hiring Practices (By County) Guide (2011)

Yale Law School’s Environmental Law Guide

A 73-page guide including an overview of environmental law and a listing of government and non-profit environmental organizations, as well as fellowships and a compendium of electronic resources.

Ecology Law Quarterly’s Environmental Law Careers Directory

This publication, available from the Ecology Law Quarterly, includes contact information for non-profits, government offices, and firms (defense and prosecution-side) that have environmental programs.  It is no longer being updated, but was kept current through 2013 and remains a great resource.

Harvard Law School’s Health Law Guide includes information about practices in the field of health law, as well as details about health law fellowships, honors programs, and entry level hiring.

CDO’s International Public Interest Legal Careers FAQ

HumanRightsJobs.com

A subscription-based website listing a variety of human rights-related opportunities, both legal and non-legal.  (username: BerkeleyLaw   password: BerkeleyLaw)

The American Society of International Law

Useful career resources for students and attorneys, including internship and fellowship opportunities with a wide-range of NGOs and IGOs, many of which are focused on human rights issues.

Guide to Internships & Fellowships in Reproductive Rights & Justice

From Law Students for Reproductive Justice.

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) provides regular listings of jobs in the areas of women’s rights, gender law, and human rights.

Private Public Interest and Plaintiff’s Firm Guide

There are many for-profit law firms whose practices are mostly comprised of representing individuals and groups of people who are in need of help and cannot otherwise obtain representation. Identifying these firms is a difficult and somewhat imprecise task, but Harvard Law School ‘s Office of Public Interest Advising and Columbia Law School ‘s Center for Public Interest Law have made an attempt.

The National Lawyer’s Guild San Francisco Chapter website provides a Membership Directory where you can browse NLG member attorneys involved in a range of practice areas, including: Civil, Criminal, Immigration, Labor, and Injury.

List of Private Public Interest Firms with Berkeley Law Connections

Solo Practitioners:

  • Career Panel Featuring Public Interest Solo Practitioners (Spring 2010) — click here for panelist bios.
  • Bay Area Legal Incubator
  • How To Start And Build A Law Practice, Foonberg, J. (5th Edition 2004 ABA) — based upon the author’s experience in starting and building his own practice.  He offers tips on how to choose  a location, obtain clients, set fees, manage the office and additional resources to help in the establishment of a new law practice.    (#220 in the CDO Library).

Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Opportunities in Animal Law Guide

Animal law intersects with many “traditional” areas of the law, such as tort, contract, criminal, and constitutional law. During the past several years, animal law has gained a stronger foothold in the mainstream legal arena as well as in academia.

Despite the steady growth of this field, many law students and attorneys are unaware of the opportunities that exist in animal law beyond the classroom. “Opportunities in Animal Law” booklet is a resource for students and graduates interested in this dynamic and cutting-edge area of the law. It contains information about clerkships, scholarships, project grants, job and pro bono opportunities, law journals, legal resources, Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters and much more.