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Crowell & Moring summer associate Khalid Jones sent out 85 resumes and cover letters in his first year at Stanford Law School. He got two interviews. That’s par for the course for a first-year law student. Summer associate positions are usually reserved for second-year students. But Jones, 22, got a position at Crowell & Moring, one of nine summer associate slots in the firm’s Public Interest Fellowship (PIF) program. Under the program, the firm assigns summer associates to local public interest legal groups. Crowell & Moring has agreements with nine organizations; three of them — the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, and the D.C. Public Defender Service — do what partner Susan Hoffman, who coordinates the firm’s pro bono practice, calls “hands-on indigent representation.” The matching of associates and nonprofit groups is based on a sort of simultaneous selection system where the preferences of both applicants and employers are considered, but the employer has the “primary say,” explains Hoffman. The associates then split the summer between the offices of Crowell & Moring and the public interest group, but are paid Crowell & Moring’s salary throughout. As one of this year’s PIF recipients, Jones spent two weeks at Crowell & Moring, six weeks at the Legal Aid Society, and is finishing the summer back at Crowell & Moring. “The speed of life is a lot quicker at Legal Aid,” Jones says. During introductions on his first day at Legal Aid, he recalls, he met his future practice group. One member looked to Jones’ tour guide, Legal Aid staff attorney Lisa Vogel, and said, “Can we take him now?” Jones was quickly folded into the office routine, rotating between the housing, family, and public benefits groups. He was directly involved in cases from the beginning, meeting with clients and often doing court filings himself. “They’re on the front line from day one,” says Legal Aid director Joe Zengerle. All parties involved say there’s merit to having a summer associate straddle two worlds. For Crowell & Moring, the 13-year-old PIF program demonstrates to potential associates the firm’s commitment to public interest work. The Legal Aid Society gets a summer associate for free, and possibly interests him in indigent representation. The associate gets a broader summer associate experience, learning the character of a big firm as well as the nature of public interest law. Jones jokes that he learned valuable lessons on where to turn as a client, depending on what his future holds: If he needs merger representation, he’ll go to Crowell & Moring. If he’s been evicted, he’ll go to Legal Aid.

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