I decided it was worth collecting some of the advice that has been given to public interest law students so that such writing could be more easily shared with law students. Here are three such resources, but if anyone knows of other “letters,” please let me know and I will add them.
FAQ from Yale Law that answers a student’s most pressing questions about a career in public interest law.
Public interest giant writes a fictional letter to a law student interested in public interest law.
Article on how to get into public interest law and why it’s important. From LawCrossing.
With the goal of helping students (and recent graduates) find public interest job search guides, below is a list of resources and guides that might be worth checking out or sharing with students.
Provides links with initiatives and information on how to start a career in dozens of practice areas.
Comprehensive list of links for job sites in the: general public interest, general nonprofits, federal government, state government, international public interest, international governmental organizations, and has separate pages for about a dozen specialty areas. Each section/topic area has dozens of links to guides and databases.
Provides affordable legal services to low and moderate income people, and provides a list of similar organizations nationwide to their own that offer legal services to individuals and other nonprofits on a sliding scale.
Professional association that advises students and schools. Includes a list of public service initiatives, as well as employment guides, conferences, and a new bulletin.
Guide to find federal legal employment, by PSJD.
The Equal Justice Network is an online meeting place, information source and connection mechanism for lawyers and other advocates committed to equal justice.
Guide to careers in public interest law, finding clerkships and internships, and a resource guide.
Includes career and application guides, fellowship information, and timelines for when and how to apply.
Includes internship application guides, fellowship information, and timelines for when and how to apply.
Includes internship application guides, fellowship information, and timelines for when and how to apply.
Links to career and application guides, by subject area. Includes guides for: fellowship and grant applications, administrative law, children’s rights, civil rights/ civil liberties, education law, environmental law, health law, immigration & refugee law, international development, intellectual property/cyber law, labor and employment, LGBT rights, national security, reproductive rights & justice, women’s rights.
Includes links for public interest job resources, job fairs, summer opportunities, funding sources, and post-graduate fellowships. Provides an overview of public interest law and the different sectors available to students and lawyers.
Provides guides and links for public interest law. Includes practice-area specific guides.
A list compiled by Boalt Law School of law student internship opportunities (both summer and year-round) in offices around the country that are engaged in the defense of death row inmates or capitally charged defendants.
Public interest law job search on a website similar to idealist.org. Better for jobs abroad.
Includes guides and resources for those seeking public interest law jobs.
Guide for students who are interested in public service abroad or public international law.
Handbook for those who want to be public defenders.
Resources and links for public interest law. Includes Chicago-specific resources.
Social justice organization, provides information on fellowships and lists opportunities for students.
Resources for students and lawyers, to help establish careers in the public interest. Includes events, articles, resources, guides, and links to databases.
Resources for students, including Georgia-specific organizations
Resources for students, including resume and cover letter tips, job fairs, and funding and debt relief.
Resources for students, some of which is password-protected.
Global network with offices worldwide that provides tools, resources, and guides to public interest lawyers. Useful for guides about pro bono law in Europe and Asia.
-Thanks to my research assistant who compiled this list.
Article: Michael Haber, CED after #OWS: From Community Economic Development to Anti-Authoritarian Community Counter-Institutions, 43 Fordham Urb. L.J. 295 (2016).
Community Economic Development (“CED”) and community-based social justice non-profits more generally have been criticized by social justice lawyers, legal scholars, practitioners, and activists, who charge that these efforts too often overlook the structural drivers of inequality, strip social justice movements of their confrontational, activist politics, and fail to give community members meaningful control over their programs. Over the past decades, anti-authoritarian activists — perhaps most famously known through Occupy Wall Street — have developed new frameworks for social change movements based on philosophical commitments to horizontalism, autonomism, and prefigurative politics. Many anti-authoritarian activists have turned their attention to creating community-based social change groups. These groups often engage in both activism and service provision, but do so outside of traditional frameworks for community-based organizations. These “community counter-institutions” hold the potential to address some of the critiques of CED models, and may develop to become more confrontational, democratic, and inclusive community-based social change organizations that still provide essential community services as part of their work. Transactional social change lawyers can play an important supportive role in helping anti-authoritarian activists to develop these new models.
Article: Justin Hansford, Demosprudence on Trial: Ethics for Movement Lawyers, in Ferguson and Beyond, 85 Fordham L. Rev. 101 (2017).
A complex, dynamic, and creative tension endures between law and social movements. Not only can law affect and even help from social movements, but social movements can affect and even help form law. Just as jurisprudence is the study of how judges make law, demosprudence is the study and practice of how social movements can also affect change through the law.
This Article explores how movement lawyers can use demosprudence to promote social change outside of the courtroom. It uses the civil rights movement and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson as examples. By applying this framework to the movement lawyering context, movement lawyers can adapt to the void in voice created by the vanishing trial in civil litigation and still help the movement.
Op-Ed: Clelia O. Rodríguez, “How academia uses poverty, oppression, and pain for intellectual masturbation,” RaceBaitR, Apr. 6, 2017.
We are happy to announce the launch of the Economic Justice Program (EJP) at American University Washington College of Law, https://www.economicjusticeprogram.com/. Though still in its early stages, the Economic Justice Program aims to advance the rights and interests of the poor and vulnerable by connecting students, advocates, and practitioners who share a commitment to anti-poverty work and by creating opportunities and space within the academy for such work.
The poverty law blog, https://maximinlaw.wordpress.com/, will keep its same website address, but you will notice a couple of changes. First, the lead photo is now the EJP logo, but more importantly, we hope to expand a bit from a platform for sharing content from other sources (scholarship and news articles) to a site that also includes original commentary and work connected to the rapidly evolving poverty law landscape.
As part of the EJP’s effort to connect the academy with grounded work, we welcome ideas from practitioners—lawyers or community advocates—for research and writing projects which students can do as part of their upper level writing requirement or as possible student notes. Please email any ideas you have for useful research topics or issues to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also hoping to create a collection of public interest job search guides, so if you know of a resource that would be good to share with students, please let us know. A lot of good guides, tools, and websites already exist and we hope to collect those for students.
Finally, if you have jobs or internships, during the summer or during the school year, for law students or for recent graduates, please share those with us. We know many great students who would love the opportunity to do meaningful internships, gain valuable experience, and help out communities in need, so please email us at email@example.com so we can help connect your organization with these eager students.
News Article:Scott Jaschik, UNC May Bar Centers From Legal Work, Inside Higher Ed (Feb. 27, 2017).
Article: Richard M. Re, ‘Equal Right to the Poor,’ U. Chicago L. Rev. (forthcoming 2017).
By law, federal judges must swear or affirm that they will “do equal right to the poor and to the rich.” This frequently overlooked oath, which I call the “equal right principle,” has historical roots dating back to the Bible and entered U.S. law in a statute passed by the First Congress. Today, the equal right principle is often understood to require only that judges faithfully apply other laws. But that reading, like the idea that the rich and poor are equally barred from sleeping under bridges, is questionable in light of the equal right principle’s text, context, and history.
This Article argues that the equal right principle supplies at least a plausible basis for federal judges to promote substantive economic equality when implementing underdetermined sources of law. There are many implications. For example, the equal right principle suggests that federal courts may legitimately limit the poor’s disadvantages in the adjudicative and legislative processes by expanding counsel rights and interpreting statutes with an eye toward economically vulnerable groups. The equal right principle should also inform what qualifies as a compelling or legitimate governmental interest within campaign finance jurisprudence, as well as whether to implement “under-enforced” equal protection principles.More broadly, the equal right principle should play a more central role in constitutional culture. The United States is unusual in that its fundamental law is relatively silent on issues of economic equality. The equal right principle can fill that void by providing a platform for legal and public deliberation over issues of wealth inequality. Through judicial confirmation hearings and other forms of public contestation, the equal right principle can help to specify federal judges’ legal and moral commitments toward the poor.
[Though I originally wrote this as an op-ed, the places I submitted it to properly recognized that this was more of a personal note than an op-ed, so I am posting it here instead… of course, if lightening strikes and this gets picked up anywhere else, I’ll provide links (though I doubt it).]
When I first started teaching, I thought I could be friends with my students. I was young, 26, and naïve. That year I taught some of my favorite students, people who I still keep in touch with and whose lives I observe through social media. Since then, I have many more students who are my “Friends” on Facebook, but I have come to accept that we are not really friends. In their minds, I will always be “Professor Rosser,” even if they do become comfortable calling me by my first name. And I don’t blame them. Though being a professor myself helps break down some of the barriers with my mentors, I likely will never consider them peers. In the back of my mind they are professors for life, even if we end up working together or writing together.
This separation between professor and student is strongest in my large lecture class. Ninety-five students this semester will dutifully laugh at my jokes—unless they are incapable of turning off Facebook during class—as we march through the intricacies of 1L Property Law. On the first day, I ask them to try to find the joy in Property, but if I am honest with myself, the best I can hope for is that some of my joy spreads to them. There isn’t actually all that much joy in the rule against perpetuities or aesthetic zoning. I like my students, I want the best for them, but I only really get to know the handful of them that I teach in my upper level classes.
Partly because our relationship is necessarily limited, there is a wall in the most professor-student relationships. And this wall extends to politics. I invite progressive students to observe and debate the racism in many of the opinions we read, but I also am quick to encourage conservative students to express their disgust at doctrines, such as adverse possession and eminent domain, that can serve to take property away from landowners. I often see my role as facilitating disagreement and, if need be, playing devil’s advocate so that the discussion brings out both sides of the debate. The book I teach from is the middle-of-the-road textbook and my only standard “political” stance every year is to dedicate one day to studying the poor. But, in my defense, it seems absurd to study “property” without spending some time on those without property.
For me, the Trump Era forces the question of how much politics is it appropriate for a professor to insert into a standard syllabus? I know other professors for whom everything has always been political. When I was a student, I was taught Constitutional Law by a brilliant professor who worked on the Bush-side of the Bush v. Gore case. His class was a constant series of political moves that culminated with an end-of-the-semester celebration of United States v. Lopez, a Supreme Court decision limiting the reach of the Commerce Clause and elevating states’ rights. I respect such professors for their honesty, but until now, I did not struggle with my choice to remain largely neutral in my large lecture class. After all, if there is anything I have learned from teaching a seemingly endless series of Property classes, it is that it is great when libertarians feel comfortable enough to speak their mind in class. Every year, I have more than a fair share of instinctively progressive students, but the classroom dynamic is best when libertarians do not let their position get drowned out by the self-righteousness that seems to be a pre-condition for going to law school. I get to know many of the progressive students well—the most progressive of them seem inevitably to sign up for my upper level Poverty Law and Federal Indian Law classes—but I often have the most fun with the conservative students.
I have been very reluctant to interject my (far-left-of-center) politics into the classroom not only because I am afraid doing so might silence debates in class but also because I feel that only my wife needs to suffer through my political ranting. (Oh to have been born in a society that actually cared about poor people…) But this year I think is going to be different because Trump and the Republicans in Congress are different. Their record already shows that they do not care about making sweeping changes that are antithetical to our nation’s ideals. This is a man, a party, and far too many supporters with no sense of decency, no understanding of history, and no shame in embodying the worst parts of human nature. These are dark days.
America is a truly great nation and in many ways has been a beacon for other nations across the globe [which I write despite teaching both Indian law and poverty law]. It seems to me that the professoriate not only should be allowed to be more political nowadays but ought to speak openly with students about the grave danger the country is in today. In such a crisis moment, I hope my students will forgive me if from time to time I break down some of the walls between professors and students by being honest about the need for resistance.