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Frequently Asked Questions

What support is available to students who pursue public interest careers? 

What support is available for students interested in private sector employment? 

What support is available for students and alumni interested in law teaching?

Why do so many YLS graduates choose judicial clerkships after graduation? 

How does CDO assist students in connecting with alumni?

In which locations do YLS graduates work? 

What do YLS graduates earn? 


What support is available to students who pursue public interest careers?
CDO offers numerous resources for students interested in careers in public interest and government. Among the resources available to students are programs on becoming a public defender, working in civil rights and pursuing a career with the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, YLS participates as a member-school in two public interest careers fairs, one in New York and one in Washington, D.C. In addition CDO provides an online summer employment evaluation database which students can search to learn more about the public interest employment experiences of their fellow students. Students are also encouraged to reference the public interest guides authored by the CDO, including Criminal Prosecution, Working on Capitol Hill and International Public Interest Law.

YLS is a leader in providing grants for summer public interest work and educational loan repayment assistance. First, YLS has the most generous loan forgiveness program in the country. The Career Options Assistance Program (COAP) allows students to choose public service and other modest salaried positions after graduation by paying all of their academic loans if they earn less than a specific yearly income, and partial payment for those with higher salaries. Click here for complete details on the program including the specified income levels. In addition, the Summer Public Interest Fellowship program provides up to $6,000 for students who need financial support to pursue a public interest job in the summer. Five thousand dollars of this funding is guaranteed; student fundraising will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to the total $6,000 summer budget.

Finally, YLS has awarded 34 public interest fellowships to its graduates for the 2013-14 academic year. Because of these programs, Yale graduates can consider employment opportunities without salary being the determining factor. 

What support is available for students interested in private sector employment?
Considering first non-clerkship job choices, approximately 60% of YLS graduates begin their legal careers in law firms. CDO offers extensive support to students pursuing law firm positions, including individual counseling sessions, programs on law firm practice areas and culture, and individual meetings with alumni through our Mentor in Residence program. The online summer employment evaluation database maintained by CDO enables peer to peer mentoring, through which students can learn more about the private sector employment experiences of their fellow students. CDO also authors several publications to assist students considering private sector options, including Law Firm Practice, Lawyers in Business, Critically Evaluating Pro Bono Policies and Programs and Assessing Law Firms: Culture, Clients, Compensation and Beyond. Many upper-class students pursuing law firm summer positions secure those positions through the Fall Interview Program. 

What support is available for students and alumni interested in law teaching?
YLS alumni have been extremely successful on the law teaching market and are currently law professors in every conceivable subject at schools of every type in every area of the globe. CDO and the Law Teaching Committee offer extensive advice and support for YLS graduates entering the market, including individualized CV advice and the compilation of a YLS CV book disseminated to every law school in the country. In addition YLS annually hosts Moot Camp, which provides YLS alumni candidates an opportunity to return to Yale, attend instructional programs on the law teaching market and publishing, and moot their job talk before an audience composed of faculty, students, fellows and other alumni.

The Law Teaching Series for students is held throughout the academic year and includes information sessions ranging from “Developing a Research Agenda” to panels on clinical law teaching. These sessions alternate with workshops giving student authors a chance to present their work to the Law School community and receive faculty commentary.

Why do so many YLS graduates choose judicial clerkships after graduation?
There are many reasons why so many of our graduates pursue judicial clerkships upon graduation. Working closely with a judge in a one- or two-year clerkship provides an excellent overview of the legal system in action, hones research and writing skills, and often provide a mentor for life. In recent years, we have seen an increasing number of graduates choose to work for one or two years after graduating before clerking.

YLS graduates have an excellent record of securing judicial clerkships at the state and federal level. CDO assists students and alumni seeking judicial clerkships in many ways. An attorney counselor is dedicated to advising students and alumni seeking judicial clerkships. CDO authors three guides on clerking, Judicial Clerkships in the U.S; Opportunities with International Tribunals and Foreign Courts; and U.S. Supreme Court Clerkships. The office organizes many programs during the year on exploring clerkship opportunities and navigating the application process. CDO maintains an online database containing confidential comment surveys from prior judicial law clerks which students and alumni can explore prior to applying to judges. The office also provides a Judges Address Database to assist clerkship applicants and their recommenders in creating cover letters and mailing labels. Finally, CDO works with law school staff to facilitate the bundling and delivery of clerkship application packets and recommendation letters.

How does CDO assist students in connecting with alumni?
CDO provides students with multiple ways connect with YLS alumni. In conjunction with the Office of Alumni Affairs, CDO maintains a network of more than 1600 alumni in the YLS Career Connections who are interested in providing career advice and guidance to current students and fellow graduates. In addition, the Yale Career Network is the University equivalent to YLS Career Connections and is available to all YLS students and alumni. It is a database of alumni from all schools within Yale who have offered to assist students or fellow alumni seeking career advice.

Each year, CDO hosts over 60 educational programs to enlighten students about career paths and job search strategies with many of these events feature our own distinguished alumni. In addition, through the Mentors in Residence program dozens of alumni return to the Law School to meet individually with interested students to discuss career paths. Finally, CDO’s Mock Interview Program partners students with alumni to enhance students’ interview skills.

In which locations do YLS graduates work?
Each year YLS graduates accept their first jobs in a wide variety of U.S. cities and in numerous foreign countries. The most popular geographic destinations for recent graduates are New York City, Washington, DC, and California.

What do YLS graduates earn?
Beginning salaries depend on the type, size and geographical location of the employer. A graduate accepting a position in a large New York City law firm will earn approximately $160,000, while a graduate commencing work in public interest in DC may earn $30,000-$80,000. A graduate starting work with the New York County District Attorney’s office will earn around $50,000. Because of Yale’s loan forgiveness program, Yale graduates can consider employment opportunities without salary being the determining factor.