By Sarah Hill
While there are many reasons to choose Georgia Law, I made the decision to go here (from out of state) because I want to practice in Washington, D.C. That may sound crazy, but so far, it’s working!
Georgia law grads are competitive in the D.C. job market – in fact, there is a large network of alumni already working there. It is not uncommon for UGA law students to have D.C. in mind – in fact, every year there is a presentation at the law school for those who are interested on ways to break into the D.C. Market. These make it possible for a UGA law grad to make it in D.C., but our Semester in Practice program actually gives us a great advantage. Instead of taking classes in Athens for a semester, students live in D.C., take two classes, and work for a nonprofit or government internship.
This way, students have a semester of work experience to enhance their resumes while earning credit from the law school. The fact that this placement is nearly full-time also means that students in these placements will get better assignments. By working every day instead of two days a week, interns build better relationships with the attorneys in their office and are able to learn much more from them. Additionally, full-time interns have a much faster turnaround on assignments, so they are likely to get assigned to more important work. For you, that means more impressive work product to talk about in interviews and use as writing samples!
Additionally, I did not realize before I started interviewing how frequently interviewers would ask whether I had a connection to the D.C. area. While I have always wanted to work in the District, I had no concrete way to demonstrate that without D.C. program. It was extremely important during interviews to have a good answer for this question.
The application process was simple. I spoke with our D.C. program coordinator about my career goals, and she helped me decide which placement would provide the best experience. She was able to tell me much more about each position than I would have been able to find on my own. I sent her application materials, and she forwarded them to the appropriate contacts. After a few weeks (of government shutdown), I interviewed with my placement over the phone.
Interestingly enough, I was interviewed by a UGA law alumna who was thrilled to bring a UGA student into the office – in fact, she said that she recused herself from the hiring decision because she was biased toward hiring UGA law students! I was offered a position with the Department of Justice, Civil Division for the semester. Because students can choose the semester in which to participate in the program, I was able to coordinate my semester in D.C. with my summer job, so I will move to D.C. in January and stay through the summer.
So if you want to work in D.C., think hard about Georgia Law. Our D.C. Semester in practice gives you work experience, work product, relationships with D.C. attorneys, and a way to demonstrate your commitment to the area. And you get all of this for the price of UGA law, which is far, far cheaper than going to a D.C. Law school.