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How Caring Can Create A Career

Lawyers care that I care. Fellow students care that I care. Employers care that I care. Caring has helped me overcome the odds, get positions in respected student organizations, legal internships and even an article published by the Huffington Post.

I am a second year law student at the University of Southern California (USC), and a cum laude graduate of the University of California at Riverside. At USC, I am the vice president of the Public Interest Law Foundation, the president of the Legal Aid Alternative Break, a committee member of the Student Bar Association and the Community Service Chair of the Black Law Student Association.

For the past year and a half, I have been offered a position at every organization I wanted and gunned for. These positions include internships at Neighborhood Legal Services, the California Women’s Law Center and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Yet, my grades are not stellar. I went to law school without any prior legal experience. I even made a spelling error once on my resume. But I care, and I got the offers when other people did not.

There are going to be people at your law school who do better than you, both academically and socially. But, you can still get the experiences you want by caring.

Caring means making sure you’re not just talking about the things that interest you—you have to do something about them. If, like me, you’re passionate about public interest law, make sure your resume overflows with volunteer experiences that show you care.

How do you show you care when you haven’t even decided you want to go to law school? Easy. You volunteer.  Even if you are interested in going the BigLaw route —you need to volunteer. Here’s why:

It is a well-known fact in the legal world that public interest interns get the most hands on experience of any other type of entry-level legal intern. If you don’t know what “public interest” means, it is a legal organization that aids low-income persons for little to no cost in numerous areas of the law.

Public interest organizations are overrun by clients who need help.  So students who volunteer get opportunities to work on real cases with real clients. You will get to write declarations that are seen before a judge, go to court for hearings, and improve your client-interviewing skills. The work you do may even save a life.

There are public interest volunteer opportunities all over the country that focus on numerous areas of the law and have positions for all experience levels. Most organizations receive little funding and have a high volume of clients, so they need our help. And, even though it will be unpaid work, you’re still going to get something big out of it: experience that shows you care.

Employers can train their new associates in how to practice law, but they can’t teach someone to care. Considering things from an employer’s perspective, I would rather hire the person who will stick with their projects and cares about the work than the person who was good at memorizing torts but doesn’t really care about the job.

So, show people your passion. I can tell you from experience it has definitely helped me.

To get you started, here is a list of some organizations where you can volunteer (click on the links for more information):

  • Alabama

Alabama Legal Services Programs

AlaskaLawHelp

  • Arkansas

Arkansas Legal Services

  • Arizona

Arizona Center for Disability Law

Arizona Justice Institute

DNA-People’s Legal Services

Law For Kids

Southern Arizona Legal Aid

  • California

Bay Area Legal Aid 

Bet Tzedek Legal Services (L.A.)

California Center for Law and the Deaf

California Department of Consumer Affairs – Legal Agencies by County

California Indian Legal Services

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation

California Women’s Law Center

Central California Legal Services

East Bay Community Law Center

Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc

Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law (L.A.)

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Legal Aid Society of San Francisco Employment Law Center

Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County

  • Colorado

Colorado Legal Services (Colorado Legal Services)

The Legal Center (Elder and Disability Law)

  • Connecticut

Connecticut Legal Services

CTElderLaw.org

Greater Hartford Legal Assistance

New Haven Legal Assistance

Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut

  • Delaware

Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Deleware Legal Link 

  • District of Columbia

The Children’s Law Center

DC Employment Justice Center

Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Legal Counsel for the Elderly

Whitman – Walker Clinic Legal Department (HIV related legal issues)

  • Florida

Bay Area Legal Services (Tampa)

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid

Legal Services of Greater Miami

Legal Services of North Florida

  • Georgia

Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Georgia Advocacy Office

Georgia Legal Services Program

Legal Assistance in Georgia

  • Hawaii

Legal Aid Society of Hawaii

  • Idaho

Idaho Legal Aid  

  • Illinois

Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic

CARPLS (Cook County)

Illinois Legal Aid

Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago  

Prairie State Legal Services

  • Indiana

Indianapolis Legal Aid Society

Indiana Justice Center

Legal Aid Corporation of Tippecanoe County

  • Iowa

Iowa Legal Aid

  • Kansas

Kansas Legal Services

  • Kentucky

Appalachian Citizens Law Center

Kentucky Legal Aid

Legal Aid Network of Kentucky

Louisville Legal Aid Society

  • Louisiana

Acadiana Legal Services

Advocacy Center (Elderly and Disabled)

AidsLaw of Louisiana

Legal Services of North Lousiana

New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation

  • Maine  

Disability Rights Center of Maine

Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project

KIDS Legal Aid of Maine

Legal Services for the Elderly

Maine Equal Justice Project

Pine Tree Legal Assistance

  • Maryland

Legal Aid Bureau, Inc.

Maryland Legal Services Corporation

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

  • Massachusetts

Center for Public Representation

Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts

Committee for Public Counsel Services

Community Legal Services and Counseling Center

Disability Law Center

Greater Boston Legal Services

Legal Advocacy and Resource Center

Massachusetts Advocates for Children

Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services

Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Massachusetts Legal Help

Massachusetts Legal Services

Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee

Merrimack Valley Legal Services

Neighborhood Legal Services (Lynn and Lawrence)

New Center for Legal Advocacy (Bristol and Plymouth County)

South Middlesex Legal Services

  • Michigan

Farmworker Legal Services of Michigan

Internet Representation Project (Northern Michigan)

Legal Services of Eastern Michigan

Legal Services of Northern Michigan

Michigan Indian Legal Services

Michigan Legal Assistance Network (for clients)

Michigan Poverty Law Program (for advocates)

  • Minnesota

Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota

Mid-Minnesota Legal Services

Minnesota Legal Services Coalition

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services

  • Mississippi

Mississippi Legal Services

  • Missouri

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Inc.

Legal Aid of Western Missouri

Missouri Legal Aid Offices

  • Montana

Montana Legal Services

  • Nebraska

Legal Aid of Nebraska

Nebraska Equal Justice Clearinghouse

  • Nevada

Clark County Legal Services

Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center

Nevada Legal Services  

Washoe County Senior Law Project

Washoe Legal Services

  • New Hampshire

Legal Advice and Referral Center

New Hampshire Legal Assistance

  • New Jersey

Camden Center for Law and Social Justice

Education Law Center

Legal Services of New Jersey

LSNJ Law

  • New Mexico

DNA-People’s Legal Services

  • New York

Advocates for Children

Empire Justice Center

Farmworker Legal Services of NewYork

HIV Law Project

Legal Aid Society of New York

Legal Assistance of Western New York

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley

Legal Services for New York City

Legal Services for the Elderly, Disabled or Disadvantaged (Western NY)

Nassau / Suffolk Law Services

Neighborhood Legal Services (Buffalo)

New York Legal Assistance Group

Public Utility Law Project

Queens Legal Services

Rural Law Center of New York

South Brooklyn Legal Services

Western New York Law Center

  • North Carolina

Legal Aid of North Carolina

Legal Services of Southern PiedmontNorth Carolina Justice and Community
Development Center

North Central Legal Assistance
Program
  

  • North Dakota

Dakota Plains Legal Services

Legal Assistance of North Dakota

Legal Services of North Dakota

  • Ohio

Equal Justice Foundation

Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

Legal Aid Society of Columbus

Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati

Ohio State Legal Services Association / Southeastern Ohio Legal Services

Pro Seniors

  • Oklahoma

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma

Oklahoma Indian Legal Services

  • Oregon

Legal Aid Services of Oregon

Lane County Legal Services Programs (Eugene)

Marion-Polk Legal Aid Service

  • Pennsylvania

Center for Disability Law and Policy

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia

Homeless Advocacy Project (Philadelphia)

Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania

MidPenn Legal Services

Neighborhood Legal Services Association (Pittsburgh)

NorthPenn Legal Services

Northwestern Legal Services

Pennsylvania Legal Services

Pennsylvania Health Law Project

Philadelphia Legal Assistance

  • Puerto Rico

Servicios Legales

  • Rhode Island

Rhode Island Legal Services

HelpRILaw

  • South Carolina

South Carolina Law Help  

South Carolina Legal Services

  • South Dakota

Dakota Plains Legal Services

  • Tennessee

Legal Aid of East Tennessee

Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands

Memphis Legal Aid Society

Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services

West Tennessee Legal Services, Inc.

  • Texas

Advocacy Incorporated

Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse

Legal Aid of Northwest Texas

Legal Hotline for Older Texans

Lone Star Legal Aid

Texas Legal Services Center (State Support)

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

Women’s Advocacy Project

  • Utah

Disability Law Center

Utah Pro Bono Volunteer Resource Guide

Utah Legal Services

  • Vermont

Legal Services Law Line of Vermont

Vermont Law Help

Vermont Legal Aid

  • Virginia

Blue Ridge Legal Services

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society

Legal Aid Justice Center

Legal Services of Northern Virginia

Potomac Legal Aid Society

Rappahannock Legal Services

Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society

Virginia Legal Aid Society

Virginia Poverty Law Center

  • Washington

Columbia Legal Services

Equal Justice Coalition

Legal Foundation of Washington

Northwest Justice Project

  • West Virginia

Legal Aid of West Virginia

Legal Help for West Virginians

West Virginia Senior Legal Aid

  • Wisconsin

Legal Action of Wisconsin

Senior Law

Wisconsin Equal Justice Coalition

Wisconsin Judicare

– See more at: http://legalaid.uslegal.com/#sthash.IJj1E33s.dpuf

List compiled from http://legalaid.uslegal.com/.

 

Author Stephanie Rector

Stephanie Rector is a is a J.D. candidate, Class of 2017, at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She has interned at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and California Women’s Law Center. Ms. Rector recently won the seat for USC Student Bar Association President for 2016-2017. Ms. Rector’s writing was recently featured in the Huffington Post at www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-rector.

More posts by Stephanie Rector

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