Unpaid Internships: Valuable Experience or Exploitation?

Like most of us in PILF, you have probably had an unpaid summer internship–in fact, like most students, you have probably had more than one.  And as students pursuing careers in public interest, most of us have accepted our fate and willingly apply for these (often highly competitive) unpaid positions.  Yet some have questioned whether it is fair for employers to hire students for free. In fact, some feel that most internships violate federal law and flout Labor Department rules.  The New York Times had a lively discussion of the issue this week, and it left us wondering, DO unpaid internships exploit college students? Should it matter whether the employer is a non-profit versus a for-profit entity? What about a government organization?  Should the government step in and do something? Read the discussion and share your thoughts.

Public Interest Touches All Lawyers

If you’ve taken The Legal Professions then you know that the ABA Model Rules recommend attorneys complete 50 hours of pro bono work per year.  Pro bono work provides an opportunity for lawyers who choose private practice to engage in public interest work and often involves interacting with public interest lawyers.  If you’re looking for a good example, check out the documentary Crime After Crime. This documentary tells the story of Debbie Peagler–a woman imprisoned for over 25 years due to her link to the murder of the man who abused her–and the two attorneys who volunteered to re-examine her case.  After years of hard work, Debbie’s attorneys find long-lost witnesses, new testimonies from the men who committed the murder, and proof of perjured evidence.  Besides being a truly remarkable and unforgettable story, the film is also a great example of why public interest law is relevant to all attorneys.