Liam McGivern finds his calling in public interest law


IAS Alum Liam McGivern (’09) met with students to share his path to a career in public interest law.  Once a biology major, Liam turned his focus to human rights after a class on resistance movements in the Americas with Julie Shayne.  Liam majored in Global Studies, pursued a minor in human rights, and set his sights on law school.

Currently, Liam is a Civil Rights Analyst with the City of Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR), where he investigates allegations of discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations within the City of Seattle. Prior to joining SOCR, Liam worked as an attorney in a legal aid office providing direct client services in Miami, Florida. As a poverty lawyer, Liam specialized in military discharge issues, veterans benefits, issues at the intersection of homelessness and veteran status, and removing illegal barriers to receipt of food stamp benefits. He has presented at state, regional, and national seminars on these topics. A graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, Liam began his legal career in a position funded by the Skadden Fellowship Foundation.

Reflecting on his experiences, Liam imparted this advice:

  • You can’t be lucky without being prepared.  Opportunities may come your way, but you must be ready to seize them.
  • Treat your relationships with care.  Connections can take you unexpected places at unexpected times.
  • Don’t underestimate school work or volunteer experiences – things that seem small can be pieced together into a solid resume.
  • A gap year between undergrad and law/graduate school can be advantageous if you use your time wisely (internships, volunteering, gaining relevant work experience).
  • With law school applications, your GPA and LSAT score are very important.
  • How you structure your legal career influences what you can do. Understand the opportunities and limitations of certain law pathways.
  • Consider public interest law – certain forms of employment qualify for loan forgiveness programs.

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