Discovery        A passion for public interest work leads 2L to pursue law school

A passion for public interest work led 2L Max Schmidt to The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, after a career in the nonprofit sector working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland initially peaked his interest in earning a law degree. He enrolled at Moritz as a dual-degree student, where he is pursuing a J.D. and a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Management at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

“One of the big reasons I came to law school at Ohio State was that I could do both of those degrees in the same amount of time, for the same amount of money, which is pretty unusual,” Schmidt said. “My focus is really around public interest, particularly government affairs, public policy, legislation, those sorts of areas. The ability to study both sides of that, the legal side as well as the policy side, was really ideal for me. My hope is to then parlay that into a job at the intersection of those fields.”

Schmidt’s work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland included facilitating after-school, educational assistance, and gang intervention programming in addition to reaching out to other nonprofit and government entities for funding.

“That was the main focus: making sure all of those kids stayed in school, graduated from school, and didn’t get pulled off track,” he said. “I got to go into a lot of communities in Cleveland that I otherwise never would go into. I think seeing that and having that experience is a big part of what ultimately led me to law school.”

Schmidt may have enrolled at Moritz in pursuit of public interest law, but he has since gained a newfound interest in another legal field: administrative law, one of his favorite courses so far.

This summer, Schmidt participated in Moritz’s Washington, D.C., Summer Program. He clerked for the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development throughout the course of his externship. After graduation, he hopes to go into a J.D.-preferred job within the realm of policy analysis, policy implementation, and legislative affairs.

“Part of that process is figuring out what level of government I want to be in. I never really had the opportunity to work or participate at the federal level, so that was the biggest driver to do the D.C. program—getting that opportunity,” Schmidt said. “I made a fairly substantial career switch before coming to law school so I don’t have a lot of experience actually working in the government, which makes it really hard to then apply for internships and those sorts of positions with the government. The opportunity to utilize Ohio State and their reputation, to get my foot in the door, and to get that experience was pretty valuable.”

Schmidt serves as president of the Education Law Society, treasurer of the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF), as a research fellow for the Pro Bono Research Group (PBRG), and as a research assistant for the University’s College of Education and Human Ecology. He plans to enroll in the Moritz’s Legislation Clinic next semester.

“I’m trying to gain experience in all levels of government. I’m a big proponent that effective policy is implemented through partnerships in all levels of government, so having practical experience in all of those levels is very valuable,” he said. “I want to try to take advantage of the opportunities to gain more experience with the legislative process now to help me hone in on what level of government I actually want to work in after graduation.”