What experiences public interest employers valued in job applicants

December 1, 2010

>The National Association of Law Placement (NALP) has just released a survey of public interest employers which asked about summer 2011 hiring prospects.  The survey report is available on the pslawnet website at  https://pslawnet.org/uploads/2010_PI_Employment_Market_Fall_Snapshot.pdf .  One question on the survey asked employers to describe the kinds of experiences that would make job applicants the strongest candidates for employment.  Here is a summary of the responses:


Civil legal services providers look for a demonstrated passion for serving low-income

communities and for direct experience interacting and working with low-income

clients. This serves as a reminder of the importance of building cultural

competencies for legal services attorneys. Without this awareness, it is difficult to

develop trusting relationships with clients who may have limited educational

background and be distrustful of service providers. Civil legal service providers also

highly value bilingual ability in their attorneys, especially knowledge of Spanish or of

an Asian language.



Federal government employers seek to hire individuals with a demonstrated

commitment to public service and practical legal experience gained through clinics,

internships, and/or pro bono opportunities.


Public defenders desire candidates with clinical and/or pro bono experience working

with incarcerated and low-income clients. According to one public defender,

“previous experience in a PD’s office is always a plus for law students and a must for



Local prosecutors value trial experience, whether obtained through a clinical

program, through a third-year practice rule experience, or in some other capacity.


Nonprofit legal organizations look for a demonstrated passion about the

organization’s mission and a diverse skill set that may include community outreach

and exposure to nonprofit fundraising.


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