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Highlights from the 2020 Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair

/ Blog Post

Each fall, the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair, the largest national public interest legal career fair, brings together hundreds of law students, public interest employers, law school faculty, and practitioners in the public interest law field for interviews, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.

This year, the Conference and Career Fair—the largest in Equal Justice Works’ history with more than 2,600 registrants participating in over 3,700 prescheduled interviews—went virtual due to the pandemic. Held from October 22 to 24, 2020, the three-day event provided attendees the opportunity to build their professional skills and grow their résumés, while interviewing for full-time positions and internships.

“The move to a digital space for this year’s Conference and Career Fair allowed for more students and public interest law employers—who would otherwise be unable to participate due to financial and travel constraints—to take advantage of everything the conference has to offer,” stated Aoife Delargy Lowe, vice president of law school engagement and advocacy at Equal Justice Works.

At the Conference and Career Fair, attendees participated in job interviews as well as conference workshops such as résumé review and mock interviews. During the informal “table talk” and “employer informational sessions,” attendees had an opportunity to learn more about the over 170 public interest law employers at the career fair.

A highlight from conference was hearing from the keynote speaker, Eric H. Holder, Jr., 82nd Attorney General of the United States. Mr. Holder joined a Zoom call with Judge Ann Claire Williams, formerly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, to share his perspectives on issues facing our democracy, including voting, gerrymandering, and racial injustice.

Conference attendees had the opportunity to hear from experts on panel discussions that covered pressing legal topics such as disaster lawyering, environmental law, voting rights, and protecting transgender communities; as well as attend public interest career planning sessions.

Photo of speakers at the 2020 Conference and Career Fair session “Lessons Learned from the 2008 Recession and How to Navigate Public Interest Law Careers in 2020.”

At the session, “Lessons Learned from the 2008 Recession and How to Navigate Public Interest Law Careers in 2020,” an incredible panel of legal professionals addressed how to navigate public interest careers in 2020 using the lessons they learned from counseling law students during the 2007/2008 recession.

“Demonstrate your resilience…demonstrate forward momentum and keep plowing forward because employers will pick that up when you’re talking to them,” said session speaker Steve Grumm, director of community engagement at the Legal Aid of Western Michigan.

For a full list of speakers and sessions at this year’s conference, visit here.

A special thanks to sponsors Lexis Nexis and PSJD, event exhibitors, public interest employers, and session speakers for making the 2020 Conference and Career Fair an enormous success.  

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