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Public Interest Career Fair

Monday, Nov 7, 2011

Students and employers connect at annual event

-By Kelsey Schreiberg; photos by Maria Iacobo

It’s been said there is no substitute for “real world” experience.  A wide range of hands-on experiences in the legal field were on display recently in Crocker Plaza, where 30 public interest organizations, including 15 USC Law alumni representatives, met with students to provide them with available externship possibilities.

2011 Public Interest Career Fair
 2011 Public Interest Career Fair

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office, Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles, Public Counsel, and Mental Health Advocacy Services were among the organizations present at the 2011 Public Interest Career Fair. The event allowed over 100 USC students to ask questions -- everything from specific job responsibilities to the number of hours required to truly make a contribution within the respective organization. 

“The value of the fair is that it gives students an introduction to public interest in Los Angeles. Students have a chance to really get to know each of them,” said Career Services Office (CSO) Assistant Director Rachel Kronick Rothbart.
Additionally, the Office of Public Service provided information on how to apply for Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) grants, summer fellowships, clinical externships, and judicial externships.
Craig Harbaugh ’98 and Anne Hwang ’02, representatives of the Office of the Federal Public Defender, discussed the advantages of an externship at one of the largest organizations in the public defender program.
“One of the most valuable things about working at the Federal Public Defender’s office is the resources and expertise students have around them,” said Harbaugh. “Students are not simply working up research motions, they are able to draft motions and argue for them.  They are actively helping to move the process forward.”
2011 Public Interest Career Fair
 Students meet with organizations
In a booth across the way, Lindsay Toczylowski ‘08 spoke with students about child advocacy law. The 40 law students who extern at the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles attend courtroom hearings, participate in litigation, interview child clients and write motions.
Toczylowski emphasized the importance of volunteer work.
“It truly makes you more passionate about what you do,” she said. “You see the results of your efforts in very personal ways.”
Students also gained valuable information from their peers.  Ashley Kaplan ’13 worked at the Harriett Buhai Center last summer. 
“It was a great opportunity to work on writing skills, learn about the family law system, and gain one-on-one experience working with attorneys as a 1L,” she said.
The fair demonstrated the importance of networking and volunteer work, while broadening students’ knowledge of careers in public interest law.

As Rothbart put it, “there’s a world outside of law school, and this is a good opportunity to gain exposure to opportunities available in public interest law.”

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