Public (Dis)Interest


I’ll be honest. I’m in it for the money. I wasn’t one of those 1Ls who said they came to law school to help people. I became a lawyer because it seemed like the best way to land my DreamJob without first having to work in the mailroom. Also, I like money. I like nice things and the law seemed like the best way to get nice things for myself (I don’t do math or science).

I did get an unpaid clerkship at DreamCompany and yes, I get that there are tradeoffs and that I’m paying my dues—more than willing to do so—but I’ve lived a student’s lifestyle for far too long. I’m ready for some money.

Unfortunately, it’s hard out there for a recent law school graduate, and with Big Firms in the middle of a hiring freeze, it’s no time to be choosey.

Of course, it’s not like there are no jobs for lawyers. In fact, there’s always one employer who’s hiring—the government.

So three days ago, I decided to suck it up. With an enthusiasm that my student loan company would admire, I applied for a government job.

In my application there was a section asking for a personal statement regarding my interest in criminal law. Hmm.

Well, I love “Law & Order” (I heart Jack McCoy).  Okay, I didn’t put that down.

Knowing someone on the inside, I also managed to get my hands on a hiring manual, which stressed the importance of finding applicants with a strong interest in public service.

Ugh. The public? I have come to realize that, on the whole, I don’t like the public very much. I didn’t go to law school to change the world, fight the power, or help people. That’s why all of my internships were spent working on the management-side of labor law.

But my government lawyer friend indulged me with a mock interview.

It didn’t go well.

He laughed at me and said, “Get thee to a soup kitchen this weekend!”

Yeah, didn’t happen.

So what to do when you need to sell yourself as a humanitarian and you couldn’t care less about humanity? In plain English—lie. But “lie” is such a dirty word.  I massaged some of my prior experience and talked about wanting to transition from the private to the public sector and really give back.

Amazingly, I wasn’t struck by lighting.

That seems to have gotten the ball rolling with the government. But hopefully it won’t come to that. I’m hoping the Big Firm hiring freeze thaws before I have to make a commitment to the people.

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Read more from Katie Apple.

9 Comments

  1. Alex Hump

    December 1, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Just because you work for the government doesn’t, ipso facto, mean you have to be public spirited.  There are plenty of agencies whose missions are specific, but not necessarily public spiritited.  For example, the Waterfront Commission of the City of New York.  You go there, and learn what you need to learn, meet a number of contacts for the future, avoid taking bribes from mobsters with bent noses, and get as much experience as you can before applying for a big firm job.

  2. Anonymous

    December 1, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Amen, sister!

  3. Sherry

    December 1, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Amen twice!!

  4. Content Associate

    December 1, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    I concur.

  5. Anonymous

    December 2, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Ditto

  6. anon

    December 2, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    This was similar to my experience. I am a 3L and in the top of my class but when I applied to my state AG’s office, I didn’t even get an interview.  Everything on my resume is private and I prefer it that way. However, I do want a job on graduation.  While I didn’t even get an interview, someone with a 2.5 gpa did.  While I do want a job, it would be hard to explain why I want to work at a place where the firm I clerk for now (not hiring anyone at the moment) is paying me more as a law student than they would as an attorney.

  7. anon

    February 25, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Fucking tools

  8. manda

    April 3, 2009 at 11:55 am

    the government serves the public, you vacuous loser.  stick to the private sector, we don’t want you

  9. For the love of God...

    June 25, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Don’t apply for public sector or public interest jobs!!! If you can’t hack it with a big firm cushy job you will die under actual and real pressure.They don’t want or need you and your whiny, greedy lil paws messing things up. You’ll also be happy to note, the public doesn’t like you right back!
    Keep it real and go for a small firm. Or you can always trying being a total bottom feeder and do plaintiff side stuff. You even get a cool ad in the back of a phone book!

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