Networking for a public interest career is even more important than networking in the private sector– but networking opportunities might look a little different. The (somewhat) hard truth in public interest is that there are just not the same number of banquets and “events” as there are in the private bar. Take advantage of those that do exist – CLEs, destination CLE/ training events by practice-specific organizations (ex. Washington Defender Association), speakers at school, Access to Justice Committee meetings, and WSBA and local bar commission meetings. Attending these not only makes you a better attorney or law student, but gives you the opportunity to meet other skilled practitioners who are active in their bar sections. Outside of these events though, effectively networking with other public interest practitioners might require a little creativity. Check out our calendar to find upcoming events!
- Attend CPD’s Networking Seminar for ideas and tactics to network efficiently and effectively.
- Attend ATJI’s social justice forums and meet public interest attorney presenters, work with public interest and pro bono attorneys on projects and casework, and/or meet with ATJI staff for guidance on connecting with attorneys practicing in areas of interest.
- Get involved! Join PILF , Access to Justice Institute activities, community action groups, list-servs. You’ll not only make the impact you came to law school to make, you’ll be educating yourself and meeting other movers and shakers!
- Ask mentors or colleagues at your current position for suggested contacts, and if it is appropriate to use their name when contacting the person.
- Talk to attorneys to determine if there are practice-area specific fundraisers that you can attend, such as the Washington Environmental Counsel Auction. Attending fundraisers, even if you can’t donate money, is a great way to meet attorneys and other community members that are dedicated to the equal justice movement. Mix and mingle! Before you go, practice making small talk and introducing yourself to people you want to meet. If you can’t attend as a guest, volunteer to work at the event – another great way to start meeting people and show off your dedication to the cause.
- Don’t be shy about introducing yourself if the opportunity presents itself. Public interest attorneys are often running this way or that, so if you see one that you know of and admire walking down the street, go for it and introduce yourself (Caveat: use good judgment – if they’re walking south down Third Ave. carting boxes of documents and have a very focused look on their face, chances are they’re in trial and not interested in chatting. However, they may appreciate an offer to help carry the boxes and you can talk on the way!).
- It’s worth repeating: get involved! Volunteer with organizations you believe in and go the extra mile on projects. It will be remembered.
Resources for Networking and Volunteering
- Seattle University School of Law Center for Professional Development
- Seattle University School of Law Access to Justice Institute
- WSBA Access to Justice’s Advocate Resource Center
- Seattle University School of Law Public Interest Law Foundation
- Equal Justice Works
- NALP's Public Interest
- Public Interest Law Initiative
- Yale Public Interest Law
- Harvard Office of Public Interest Advising