Gaining Skills for a Successful Career in Public Interest Law

By Brennen Vanderveen, Public Interest Litigation Training Program and Free Speech Clinic Alumnus

Photo courtesy of Brennen Vanderveen

I first became involved with the Liberty & Law Center by participating in the Liberty & Law Reading Group as a 1L. I decided to participate in the reading group for several reasons. One reason is that I wanted to engage in a more critical evaluation of a text than is typical in 1L courses. Another reason is that I wanted to become more familiar with the ideas behind the interaction of liberty and law.

Participating in the reading group fulfilled both of these desires. By participating in the reading group, I was exposed to works by Friedrich Hayek, Randy Barnett, and Richard Epstein. All of these authors challenge the typical modern legal paradigm, often in ways I had not previously considered. Even though I do not fully agree with every author, I benefited from exposure to their arguments.

In my final year of law school, I had the privilege of participating in the Free Speech Clinic. The clinic counts towards the Public Interest Litigation and Advocacy Concentration, which I pursued. The clinic provided me with hands-on experience in an area I would like to work one day. I got experience researching potential free speech cases and drafting complaints.

Through the clinic, I was able to apply in a very real way principles I had discussed a bit more abstractly in other classes. That is only half the benefit of being in the clinic, though. The first half of class was usually devoted to covering a topic with a guest speaker. Guest speakers included practicing attorneys and people who participated directly infamous cases we read. I feel much more confident in pursuing a public interest career because of my participation in the clinic.