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Author Topic: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?  (Read 2833 times)

jamiejamie

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2008, 11:07:48 PM »
One legal aid person told me that they didn't care about grades, and instead wanted people with a proven commitment to nonprofit/public work. And this was for an internship. I thought that was stupid because they seemed to be prefering this over competence. Also, it excludes people interested in this type of work that could potentially be interested in a long-term public service career.

jacy85

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2008, 07:12:47 AM »
Some thoughts:

1.  Grades in no way = competence.  I've seen some serious incompetence at school and work, and have heard stories of people that used to work at my firm during the last decade, who had to have good grades to get hired, but exhibited a scary level of incompetence.  I've also seen some incredibly competent and effective attorneys, litigation and transactional, private and government, who are incredibly talented and did not have great grades in law school.  Yes, grades show a *potential* to do well, but they in no way guarantee a great lawyer.

2.  Preference for people with proven commitment to public service isn't cutting anyone out of the picture.  There are so many ways to get involved that don't involve directly interning at Legal Aid.  There's tons of volunteer programs, and it's never too late for anyone to get involved.  And once you start getting involved, your resume will begin to reflect your commitment ot public service, no matter what your actual job might be.  That, along with networking and meeting the people at legal aid who might hire you, so they get to know you and your commitment to service, means that you will not be forever excluded from a long-term public service career.

Miss P

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2008, 09:23:41 AM »
Some thoughts:

1.  Grades in no way = competence.  I've seen some serious incompetence at school and work, and have heard stories of people that used to work at my firm during the last decade, who had to have good grades to get hired, but exhibited a scary level of incompetence.  I've also seen some incredibly competent and effective attorneys, litigation and transactional, private and government, who are incredibly talented and did not have great grades in law school.  Yes, grades show a *potential* to do well, but they in no way guarantee a great lawyer.

2.  Preference for people with proven commitment to public service isn't cutting anyone out of the picture.  There are so many ways to get involved that don't involve directly interning at Legal Aid.  There's tons of volunteer programs, and it's never too late for anyone to get involved.  And once you start getting involved, your resume will begin to reflect your commitment ot public service, no matter what your actual job might be.  That, along with networking and meeting the people at legal aid who might hire you, so they get to know you and your commitment to service, means that you will not be forever excluded from a long-term public service career.

I completely agree with the above.

In addition, it's worth considering that experience in public service, particularly working with indigent and other marginal populations such as the mentally ill, may be part of what it takes to be competent as a public defender or legal services attorney.  Good representation really is more than applying the law to the facts; in the legal services context, it's also being able to elicit information from and communicate difficult concepts to your client and his or her family, understanding people and their needs, savvy about how to work with limited resources, ability to think on your feet, etc.

Further, while the public defender and legal services offices in my town don't care much about grades in hiring (AFAIK, only one requires a transcript, for instance), they do seem to care about certain indicia of good grades (LR, moot court, merit scholarships) and other academic honors.  Also, in an interview at the office that does ask for a transcript, my interviewer mentioned my (thankfully good!) grades in a few relevant classes (evidence, crimpro 1, crimpro 2, fed courts).  They may not care too much, but they do read it.  And I'm glad they didn't ask me about my corporations grade. :)
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2008, 09:50:43 AM »
What type of incompetence have you seen, Jacy (and also Miss P)?  Are we talking about messing up term sheets?  Not knowing about the work product exception in discovery?  Filing an answer much later than they should have?

Private David Lewis

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2008, 10:05:37 AM »
What type of incompetence have you seen, Jacy (and also Miss P)?  Are we talking about messing up term sheets?  Not knowing about the work product exception in discovery?  Filing an answer much later than they should have?

Last semester I was working with a friend of mine on a moot court brief.  She got a much higher grade than I did in civ pro.  The case we were writing the brief for was in the 9th Circuit, and she cited a U.S. District Court in Kansas for the proposition that California had adopted the Restatement of Torts. 
The main partner in their Entertainment Law group went to CLS, but he was Fiske and on LR, so be careful.  You don't want to set yourself goals that are too high.

Miss P

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2008, 10:12:32 AM »
What type of incompetence have you seen, Jacy (and also Miss P)?  Are we talking about messing up term sheets?  Not knowing about the work product exception in discovery?  Filing an answer much later than they should have?

Last semester I was working with a friend of mine on a moot court brief.  She got a much higher grade than I did in civ pro.  The case we were writing the brief for was in the 9th Circuit, and she cited a U.S. District Court in Kansas for the proposition that California had adopted the Restatement of Torts. 

This story makes me giggle every time.  Of course, your civpro class was about much deeper concepts, eh?

Wally, there are plenty of examples of incompetence, running the gamut from late filings to missing key arguments in papers or hearings to inability to understand what one's client really needs or wants.  It's probably a lot like other professions except our clients are not always in a great position to know when we've done them wrong.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.

Thistle

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2008, 10:15:25 AM »
last summer i answered a complaint from the top law firm in the city (where hilary worked) written by one of the top graduates two years ago.  it was one of the most awful pleadings i have ever seen in my life.  disorganized, poorly pled, and with obviously only a passing acquaintance with constitutional law....

first i lulz'd.  then i got it dismissed.
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JD

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2008, 10:26:08 AM »
last summer i answered a complaint from the top law firm in the city (where hilary worked) written by one of the top graduates two years ago.  it was one of the most awful pleadings i have ever seen in my life.  disorganized, poorly pled, and with obviously only a passing acquaintance with constitutional law....

first i lulz'd.  then i got it dismissed.

Did you 12(b)(6) it or was it something else?

How did ConLaw fit in?  I can see the right to a jury trial coming up with the 7th Amendment, but I don't have enough ConLaw to understand how the allegations themselves or something else might be problematic.

Good work, by the way.

Any other stories about incompetence would be much appreciated.  I can understand a misunderstanding about binding/persuasive authority, but Craig Finn's story makes me lulz.  And, yeah, we have a terrible policy-fixated bent here, too.  I have no idea how we're ever going to practice law at this rate.  Our Torts professor never practiced a day in his life and spends most of the time discussing ex ante/ex post notions of deterrance.

Thistle

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2008, 10:41:27 AM »
last summer i answered a complaint from the top law firm in the city (where hilary worked) written by one of the top graduates two years ago.  it was one of the most awful pleadings i have ever seen in my life.  disorganized, poorly pled, and with obviously only a passing acquaintance with constitutional law....

first i lulz'd.  then i got it dismissed.

Did you 12(b)(6) it or was it something else?

How did ConLaw fit in?  I can see the right to a jury trial coming up with the 7th Amendment, but I don't have enough ConLaw to understand how the allegations themselves or something else might be problematic.

Good work, by the way.

Any other stories about incompetence would be much appreciated.  I can understand a misunderstanding about binding/persuasive authority, but Craig Finn's story makes me lulz.  And, yeah, we have a terrible policy-fixated bent here, too.  I have no idea how we're ever going to practice law at this rate.  Our Torts professor never practiced a day in his life and spends most of the time discussing ex ante/ex post notions of deterrance.


12(c).  didnt want to go full msj unless mtd was denied.

it was a constitutional complaint, wrongful firing without due process; whistleblower; stuff like that with a bunch of state issues thrown in willy-nilly.  wrong amendments were cited or misapplied.  it was kinda humorous, actually.
non ex transverso sed deorsum


JD

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Re: How Hard is it To Land a Legal Aid Position?
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2008, 10:45:53 AM »
Because it's 12(c), and not 12(b)(6), I understand that they can't amend the complaint and come back; judgment on the pleadings was for the defendant.  That's a bummer for the client.

Or can they return?  This isn't a dismissal with or without prejudice, so it's as if it was adjudicated on the merits.  I wonder if they tried to take this to an appellate court, citing their own incompetence.