Worried about the lack of internships for law students? What if I told you that applications for 700 funded summer positions are available one week from today?
While other legal entities are cutting back on their summer internship programs, Equal Justice Works is accepting 700 law students into its Summer Corps program this year (an increase from the 541 positions offered last year). Summer Corps members will receive funding through AmeriCorps. But Summer Corps is no ordinary internship program. Applicants to Summer Corps—who must attend one of Equal Justice Works’ member schools—create their own public interest projects and link with host organizations. Host organizations “must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations or qualifying public defender programs.”
For those interested in careers in public interest law, this process is a “good start to understand how fellowships work and to market yourself to future funders,” says Martin Costello, Senior Program Manager for AmeriCorps. While the task of creating and launching a qualifying project may seem daunting, applicants have great latitude in choosing focus areas. According to Mr. Costello, popular topics this year will likely be foreclosure defense, immigration and veteran-focused work, and projects in the past have included AIDS/HIV, children & youth, community and economic development, civil rights, death penalty advocacy, disability, elder law, education, family law, GLBT issues, housing and criminal defense.
Developing a program allows a student to explore his or her legal interests, and Mr. Costello urges law students to “think creatively about where you want to go and what you want to do.” Don’t limit yourself—“get out of the comfort zone of where you think you can go,” says Mr. Costello. For example, explore opportunities in other geographic regions like the public defender program in Alaska, which hires interns each summer. If you’re looking for incredible hands-on experience, Mr. Costello suggests public defense work. “Those students usually have some of the greatest experiences because the defenders offices are so drastically underfunded . . . interns are so badly needed which translates into a lot of work and a lot of expectations right off the bat,” he says.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you secure a host and finalize your project soon. The application period is open from March 16-April 5. To find potential host organizations, Mr. Costello recommends searching PSLawNet, calling local organizations and speaking with your school’s career services office. Other great resources are organizations that host Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellows, which “are routinely looking for interns” and have “very strong commitments to not only legal services but also to national service,” says Mr. Costello.
While there are 700 spots, don’t skimp on your application—Summer Corps is competitive. The program received around 1600 applications last year and is expecting more this year. And don’t hesitate to apply because of recent news of possible funding cuts to AmeriCorps—“all funding is secure for this summer,” says Mr. Costello.
See below for more details and links to the program.
• Application Period: March 16, 2011 – April 5, 2011
• Number of Summer Corps Positions: 700
• Location: Across the United States
• Compensation: AmeriCorps education award of $1,132
• Duration: 300 hours must be completed between May 2, 2011 and September 2, 2011
Equal Justice Works Summer Corps
Equal Justice Works Member Law Schools
Summer Corps Application Information
Steps Before Completing Summer Corps Application
Leading the Legal World Toward Public Interest: Equal Justice Works Celebrates 25 Years
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