Direct service providers include legal services offices, which work on a broad range of issues, as well as single issue organizations, which focus their efforts on one issue or population (ex. advocacy on behalf of children or immigrants). With some exceptions, these organizations do not have the budget to hire entry-level classes of attorneys so they only hire when openings become available. The National Legal Aid and Defender Association and PSJD are excellent sources for finding direct services offices throughout the country.
As the mission of direct service providers is to serve many low-income individuals, work in this area involves close client contact and a substantial workload. Direct service providers value individuals who can efficiently provide high-quality written work and have experience in interviewing and advocating on behalf of clients, working with community groups, and negotiating with administrative agencies.
Competition for positions in urban direct services offices is greater than in rural offices. Those interested in urban areas may want to consider rural offices as well. They sometimes are only an hour or two from a city. Additionally, post-graduate fellowships are another great way to gain experience and get in the door of direct service providers. Frequently, these organizations will host fellowship recipients who receive funding from outside entities, such as the Skadden Fellowship Foundation or Equal Justice Works.
If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Jill Frost, Director of OCPD, at (202) 319-5132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.