The Public Interest Legal Career Fair, the largest event of its kind in the country, brought interested law students and public interest and government employers to the Law School for the fair's 32nd year on February 5 and 6. With 200 employers represented, the fair, organized by NYU Law's Public Interest Law Center (PILC), was at capacity as more than 2,000 students from 21 law schools convened at NYU for internship interviews and "table talk" information sessions.
"The fair continues to work," said PILC associate director Eve Stotland, a Yale Law School graduate who found her own 1L summer job at the fair and later attended in a hiring capacity. "Employers tell us they get great students, the students get interview experience and job offers, and administrators at participating schools tell us how important the event is for their institutions and their students."
Students took advantage of the opportunity to meet with a wide variety of employers. "The career fair was a great place to pursue my longstanding interest in the environment, but also start to branch out into my new interest in criminal law," said Megan Turek '11.
The critical mass of employers yielded quick results for David Menninger '11, who booked five interviews on the first day of the fair and received two offers by noon on the second day. Ultimately, he decided on an internship at Make the Road New York, a nonprofit organization codirected by Oona Chatterjee '98 and Andrew Friedman '98 that advocates for economic justice. "While I was already committed to public interest law," Menninger said, "the fair helped further that commitment by showing me tons of successful attorneys in the field."
The fair is also a boon for employers seeking highly committed law students. Orleans Public Defenders, an organization representing indigent defendants in Orleans Parish, recently added an unprecedented five 3Ls from NYU to its staff; three of them had previously spent their 2L summers with the organization, underlining the importance of the public interest internships facilitated by the fair. Christopher Flood '00, deputy chief public defender, said, "It is the place on our recruiting calendar for the Northeast where we can find 1Ls in particular.... For 1Ls who are just stepping out, it's the ideal place to catch them."
Sam Sue, director of career planning at CUNY School of Law, has been involved with the fair for more than a decade, first as an employer and then in his career counseling capacity at CUNY. "It's an especially efficient forum for both students and employers," Sue said, "because a large chunk of recruiting and interviewing for jobs can all get done within the time period leading up to and at the job fair.... The PILC Fair is truly one of those feel-good public interest happenings that has become an established fixture of law school calendars." Well over half of CUNY law students, he added, register to participate in the fair, and many land jobs as a result.
Aaron Clark-Rizzio '09, one of Orleans Public Defenders' new permanent hires, first became interested in the organization during a table talk at the PILC Fair. The event, he said, helped him to make a highly specific decision about his career path: whether he wanted to pursue direct services or impact litigation. It also proved encouraging for someone not pursuing a more lucrative legal career: "For the apprehensive public interest student, walking into Golding or Greenberg and seeing all of the tables and interested students can confirm your interest in this work."