Counseling, Programming and Mentorship
The Office of Public Interest Programs provides a variety of services to assist students and alumni in exploring and pursuing public interest work via pro bono opportunities, internships and/or postgraduate fellowships and employment. More specifically, through its counseling services and slate of programming, as well as through various mentorship initiatives the Office helps:
- Learn about the broad range of public service practice opportunities and career paths.
- Chart their public interest path.
- Secure summer and academic year internships, postgraduate fellowships and permanent employment.
Alumni who wish to transition to public interest work, as well as alumni currently engaged in public interest work who are seeking new opportunities.
The Office of Public Interest Programs works closely with the School of Law’s Office of Career Services and the services and programming provided by the Office of Public Interest Programs complement those provided by the Office of Career Services.
Office staff are available to work on an individual basis with students and alumni who are exploring and pursuing pro bono opportunities, internships and/or postgraduate fellowships and employment. Staff provide one-on-one counseling with respect to:
- Academic year opportunities – whether for credit, pro bono or paid.
- Summer internships.
- Postgraduate fellowships and permanent opportunities.
- Effective search strategies.
- Resume and cover letter preparation.
- Interviewing and networking techniques.
- Summer and postgraduate public interest funding opportunities and applications.
Staff counsel students and alumni who may have merely a short-term or discrete interest (for example, the student who is interested in a particular summer opportunity), and work more extensively with students and alumni who wish to pursue a public interest career.
Throughout the academic year, whether independently or together with the Office of Career Services, other academic centers and programs, student organizations, and/or public interest employers, the Office presents a slate of public interest educational programs, including panels, workshops, informal lunchtime discussions, and information sessions. These programs are designed to educate students about (i) the benefits and practical realities of public interest work, (ii) the fundamentals – or “nuts and bolts” – of pursuing public interest opportunities and a public interest career path, and (iii) specific public interest practice areas and opportunities.
Programs typically include:
Public Interest Career Series: Public interest practitioners participate in panel discussions and more informal discussions focusing on public interest work more generally and specific public interest opportunities and career paths.
Nuts and Bolts of Obtaining a Summer or Permanent Public Interest Job Series: Programs and workshops focusing on the public interest job search – developing a short- and long-term strategy, resume and cover letter writing, interviewing and networking techniques, and funding issues and opportunities.
Funding Strategies: Workshops focusing on identifying and applying for summer and postgraduate public interest funding sources.
Annual Fall Public Interest Information Fair: This annual Fair, held each fall semester, affords students the opportunity to meet Los Angeles-area nonprofit employers in an informal setting. The Fair is intended to enable students to learn about the range of nonprofit legal work and to network and speak with employers about internship, externship and employment opportunities.
Annual Fall Government Reception and Information Fair: This annual Reception and Information Fair, held each fall semester, provides students the opportunity to meet government employers in an informal setting. The Reception is intended to enable students to learn about the range of government legal work at the local, state and federal levels and to network and speak with employers about internship, externship and employment opportunities.
Annual Southern California Public Interest Career Day: This annual early spring semester career fair which is hosted by the School of Law and cosponsored by the southern California-area law schools, is comprised of a number of different activities, including formal interviews for summer and postgraduate positions, panel discussions, informal lunchtime discussions focusing on different substantive areas of public interest practice, and informal “table talk” with public interest employers.
Employer Interviews: Throughout the year, the Office invites public interest employers to the School to interview first-, second- and/or third-year students. These initiatives supplement the more formal and extensive on-campus interviewing programs coordinated by the Office of Career Services, which typically include a number of public interest (nonprofit and government) employers.
Students also have the opportunity to participate in other national and regional public interest job fairs held throughout the academic year. PSJD – an online clearinghouse of public interest job listings and career-building resources for law students and lawyers from partner law schools like UCLA School of law – includes a listing of the many public interest job fairs held throughout the country each year.
The Office’s programming also complements the programming sponsored by the School of Law’s David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, which brings advocates, policy-makers and scholars from around the country and abroad to the School to discuss issues of critical local, national and international interest.
The Office works closely with the Office of Career Services to ensure that each student who wishes to has the opportunity to secure advice and counsel from alumni in public interest practice. Incoming first-year students also have the option to participate in the formal Alumni Mentor Program, which pairs each participating student with an alumnus in the preferred practice area specified by the student.
And, students also have the opportunity to seek advice and guidance from their many public interest-minded student colleagues who have worked in public interest capacities. The Office helps facilitate these informal mentoring relationships.