Taking the Initiative

Vanderbilt's new Public Service Initiative enables recent graduates to gain work experience while working in the public interest.

Vanderbilt Law School's Class of 2009 faced a daunting job market in the wake of the economic crisis of fall 2008. Dean Chris Guthrie and Assistant Dean for Career Services Elizabeth Workman responded with a new program, the Public Service Initiative, which offered a modest stipend for up to seven months to support students who secured legal internships with a government agency or department, in judicial chambers, with public defenders' or prosecutors' offices, or with non-profit advocacy organizations. Guthrie and Workman were confident that, given the opportunity to demonstrate their level of training, gain experience and make contacts, Vanderbilt Law graduates would find the Public Service Initiative an effective springboard to permanent employment.

The program proved effective. Now in its second year, the program supported 17 graduates in 2009, and 36 2010 graduates are currently serving legal internships with the program's support. While some graduates garnered permanent positions at the organizations they originally joined as interns, others made connections that enabled them to secure full-time legal employment elsewhere.

The stories on these pages reflect a small sampling of the experiences of recent graduates who benefited from the Public Service Initiative.

Adrienne Schlichtemier Meredith Choyke
Rita Thomas Ellen D'Angelo Aurelia Schultz
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