News & Resources

PILO Resume Tips for Your Public Interest Job Search

Consult the Wake Forest School of Law OCPD Public Interest Hub online. For more information from PILO on the job search, check out our posts on the topic here and here. Also, Harvard Law School has a comprehensive guide to public interest resumes here.

Take a moment and review the PILO Information Session Prezis below:


  • If you are a PILO Summer Grant recipient, the title is Hopkins Pro Humanitate Summer Grant. Include the year(s) you received the grant. Example: Under “Honors,” write “Hopkins Pro Humanitate Summer Grant Recipient, 2016″
  • If you have held a PILO Board position, you may use a general description of the organization and then specify your particular role on the board and how you have contributed to the organization as appropriate. Example: Under “Activities,” write “Public Interest Law Organization, Auction Chair, 2015–2016; Executive Director, 2016–present”


EJW Public Interest Law Resource Guides

Check out all of the EJW guides on equal justice jobs, debt relief, and community organizing on the Student Justice Center website!

(Password: justice)



2017 PILO auctions raise record $20,000 for summer grants

Student Lawyer: Breaking the Legal Career Mold

Student Lawyer magazine begins 2017 with a slate of articles on how to do things differently in your legal career. Here are a couple articles PILO thinks may be of particular interest to you.

student lawyer

  • In recent years, the term of art “J.D. advantage” was coined to describe careers that don’t require a license to practice law but for which applicants would be greatly advantaged in the job search process if they’ve earned a J.D. In 2014, a National Association for Law Placement survey showed that 15% of the class of 2014 accepted a J.D. advantage job. Put your J.D. Advantage to its greatest advantage.
  • Law students interested in politics often aim to seek elected office later in their career. But what are your short-term options in the political realm, and how do you get hired? Is politics your passion? 

4 Tips for Writing Great Emails

Over the past year, Boomerang for Gmail focused their research efforts on figuring out what factors contribute to getting higher response rates to messages we send. Here’s what they found!

1. Email closings matter!

Email closings matter!

Some people sign-off an email with Best, others with Regards, and many omit a closing altogether. Boomerang wondered if email closings actually mattered, so they looked at how different email closings correlated with average response rate. They found that there is indeed an optimal way to close an email: with gratitude!

Thanks in advance was the most effective closing of all, and emails that closed with a variation of thanks or thank you got a reply 36% more often than the other emails. The above chart shows how the eight most popular closings in our data set fared with regard to response rate.

2. Watch out for typos – especially on Mondays!

Proofread, proofread, proofread! When Boomerang looked at how subject lines affect response rates, they found that the number of errors in the subject line has a big impact on how your message is received. Just one typo in the subject line can decrease response rates by 15%!

As the number of errors went up, response rates decreased steadily. You might not judge a book by its cover, but it appears people do judge your email based on your subject line. The most statistically significant error was also the easiest one to fix: improper capitalization.

Typo Days

Boomerang also confirmed something you probably already knew: Mondays are terrible. Boomerang found that Monday was the day of the week where email subject lines had the most average errors. Moreover, the tone of the messages we write is most negative on Mondays. People seemed to get happier as the week went on, with Saturday and Sunday being the most positive.

3. Write like a third grader.

Third Grade

Boomerang found that emails written at a 3rd grade reading level were optimal, providing a 36% lift over emails written at a college reading level and a 17% higher response rate than emails written at a high school reading level.

The main components of reading grade level scores are the number of syllables in your words and the number of words in your sentences. So try using shorter sentences and simpler words than you normally would.

4. Keep emails short, but not too short.

Message Length

The sweet spot for email length is between 50-125 words, yielding response rates above 50%. Response rates slowly declined from 125 word messages to 2500 word messages, then tumbled after that. You want to make sure you include enough information in your messages, but if you need to send War and Peace, you might want to send it as an attachment!

Thanks Boomerang!

WFU Law OCPD Student Resource Center

Looking for a public interest job or summer internship?

Start with the OCPD Student Resource Center! In addition to a well of public interest organizations and job opportunities, you will also find:

And be ready for Lexis Advance on the job!

According to the latest statistics, you’re likely to have access to Lexis whether working in a law firm, court, agency or corporation. Use of Lexis Advance continues to increase as firms and agencies discover that unique Lexis Advance features, like Search Term Maps data visualization and Practice Centers , which consolidate everything you need for your practice-area, make legal research more efficient for them and more effective for their clients.

And don’t forget to use the Litigation Profile Suite on Lexis Advance to help elevate your networking acumen and prepare for upcoming interviews!

1L Public Interest Job Search Timeline

1L Potential Public Interest Job Search Timeline

Below are some suggestions for preparing for your public interest job search.  Because most summer public interest opportunities are unpaid, it is important to consider your summer job search in light of your postgraduate career goals. Choosing to do an internship with a particular employer can help position you in a favorable way in the event an opening becomes available with that employer for a postgraduate fellow or entry-level attorney.

Fall Semester

  • Focus on classes and on acclimating to Law School.
  • Utilize the assessment tools discussed in the Professional Development course to evaluate your career interests, skills, and values.
  • Join student groups and bar association affinity groups (many have law student membership categories) that are related to your career interests.
  • Take opportunities to get to know faculty members and administrators.
  • Attend career programs and events on topics that interest you.
  • Schedule an appointment to meet with your career advisor between October 15 and December 16. Wake Forest adheres to the NALP Guidelines and thus, career advisors cannot begin offering one-on-one career counseling or application document reviews to first-year students before October 15.)
  • Work with your career advisor to update your resume and identify ways to explore further your career interests and to augment your relevant experience and skills.
  • Discuss your summer and public interest career goals and draft a plan, with concrete steps and a timeline identified for implementing your plan. Concrete plans should include: researching summer jobs, externships, or volunteer opportunities; scheduling informational interviews in cities you will visit over the winter break; developing a system to monitor resumes sent and responses received; starting a file to keep track of networking contacts; reaching out to individuals for references; preparing cover letters for targeted employers; and developing a timeline for sending letters to those employers. (Based on NALP guidelines for 1L’s, students should not apply for positions prior to December 1.)
  • Use a professional email address for all correspondence.
  • Create a professional voice mail message.
  • Review your Facebook information and Google your name to ensure that you present a professional image on the web; continue to update and edit your LinkedIn profile as appropriate.
  • Network during Winter Break.
  • Monitor, closely and regularly, summer listings on Symplicity,, and and be prepared to apply as positions of interest come to your attention.

Spring Semester

  • Organize your interview attire and consider other job search budget needs.
  • Continue to monitor job postings, initiate, and follow up with prospective employers.
  • Participate in a mock interview through the Professional Development course.
  • Continue to monitor, research, and apply for public interest funding opportunities.
  • Participate in various career fairs (e.g., the North Carolina Legal Interview Program through OCPD).
  • Meet with your career advisor to continue to strategize about your job search efforts.
  • Network during Spring Break.

Public Interest Employer Websites with Job Opportunities

(This is a sample list of websites with job postings) 

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) –

Center for Justice and Accountability –

Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) –

Earthjustice –

Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) –

Environmental Law Institute (ELI) –

Equal Justice Works –

Environmental Law and Policy Center –

Human Rights First –

National Legal Aid & Defender Association –


Public Justice –

Union Jobs —

To view a listing of legal services organizations that provide direct delivery of legal services to various and specific client populations, please check out the state-by-state directory at

Other Public Interest Employers

(This is not an exhaustive list of public interest employers)

ABA—Washington, DC

ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project—California, Georgia, New York

ACLU National Prison Project—Washington, DC

ACLU Foundation of Southern California—Los Angeles, CA

ACLU National Headquarters—New York, NY

ACLU of Alaska—Anchorage, AK

ACLU of Georgia—Atlanta, GA

ACLU of Massachusetts—Boston, MA

ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief—Washington, DC

ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project—New York, NY

Brennan Center for Justice-NYU School of Law—New York, NY

Center for Appellate Litigation—New York, NY

Center for Citizen Leadership—St. Louis, MO

Center for Justice and Accountability—San Francisco, CA

Channel 13 Public TV- Religion & Ethics Newsweekly—Washington, DC

Chicago Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights Under Law—Chicago, IL

Compassion Over Killing—Washington, DC

Connecticut Legal Services—Bridgeport, CT

Council on Foundations—Washington, DC

Fair Housing Justice Center—New York, NY

Greater Boston Legal Services—Boston, MA

Human Rights Watch—New York, NY

Immigrant Legal Resource Center—San Francisco, CA

International Crisis Group—Washington, DC

Jerome Frank Legal Services Organization—New Haven, CT

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law—Washington, DC

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights-SF Bay Area—San Francisco, CA

Legal Aid Society—New York, NY

Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia—Washington, DC

Legal Assistance Foundation—Chicago, IL

Legal Momentum- The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund—New York, NY

Louisiana Capital Assistance Center—New Orleans, LA

Ms. JD—New Haven, CT

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.—Washington, DC

National Right to Life Committee—Washington, DC

Natural Resources Defense Council—Multiple Offices

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice—Newark, NJ

New York Legal Assistance Group—New York, NY

Planned Parenthood Federation of America—New York, NY

Public Counsel—Los Angeles, CA

SEIU—Washington, DC

Service Employees International Union – SEIU Local 32BJ—New York, NY

Sierra Club—San Francisco, CA

Southern Environmental Law Center—Atlanta, GA

Southern Environmental Law Center—Chapel Hill, NC

Southern Poverty Law Center—Jackson, MS

Stewards of Affordable Housing—Washington, DC

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty—Washington, DC

The Constitutional Sources Project—Washington, DC

The Legal Aid Society Employment Law Ctr.—San Francisco, CA

United Nations Department of Political Affairs—New York, NY

Urban Justice Center, Mental Health Project—New York, NY

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts—New York, NY

1L Timeline & Resources Handout

Public Service Job Search Tips

  • Public Interest Organizations want to know that you are committed to working on their  organization’s issues or with their client population.
  • Government Agencies are mission driven; they want to know that you are committed to working for their specific agency (not the government in general).
  • Employers are looking for a record of commitment to public service.  Seek out opportunities to build a resume that reflects your commitment.

Job Search Resources for Public Service Careers

  • Public Interest Law Career Options Handout – on the Intranet and Document Library in Symplicity (includes job search links and list of public interest employers who have hired Wake students in recent years.
  • PSLawNet –  (Search organizations & search opportunities)
  • Public Interest JobNet -
  • Career Services Website –
  • Career Services Resource Library (Sections dedicated to public interest and government resources)

PILO Summer Grant re-named after Professor Beth Hopkins (BA ’73), inaugural director of the Smith Anderson Center for Community Outreach

Professor Beth Hopkins (BA ’73) is retiring from Wake Forest University after more than 30 years in various roles, most recently as the inaugural director of the Smith Anderson Center for Community Outreach at Wake Forest Law. In her role as outreach director since 2010, she has overseen the law school’s Pro Bono Project and the Public Interest Law Organization (PILO). During a celebration of her contributions on Tuesday, April 19, in the Law Commons of the Worrell Professional Center, it was revealed that the PILO summer grant would thereafter be named the PILO Professor Hopkins Humanitate summer grant.