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Public Interest

Online Career ResourcesInternational JobsLaw Firm AlternativesPrivate PracticeJudicial Clerkship ResourcesGovernmentOther SourcesPublic Interest

The broad definition of public interest law is the provision of legal representation and services to individuals, groups, or interests that historically have been underrepresented in our legal system.  Attorneys practicing in the public interest fall under many categories including legal aid attorneys, public defenders and fellows as well as government attorneys and judicial clerks.

The College of Law affords many academic opportunities to gain exposure to public interest practice.


Courses

  • Externship Placement (40 Different Opportunities)
  • Externship Seminar
  • Disability Law
  • Labor Law
  • Family Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Employment Discrimination Law
  • Mediation in Family Law
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Natural Resources Law
  • Trial Practice

Clinical Opportunities

Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic

Disability Rights Clinic

Community Development Law Clinic

Criminal Defense Law Clinic

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic

Securities Arbitration & Consumer Clinic

Just as in private practice, public interest lawyers often specialize and develop expertise both in specific types of advocacy and in particular fields of substantive law. Within public interest there are a variety of practice settings and a number of different practice areas.

Some attorneys practice public service work their entire career where others choose a combination of public service and private law firm settings throughout their years of practice. The skills learned are transferable and the rewards of public interest law are numerous.

To learn more about public interest opportunities, College of Law students and alumni should refer to the Public Interest Job Search Guide found in the Document Library of Symplicity or schedule an appointment with a Professional & Career Development counselor.

Below are some useful links to learn more about public service and assist you with your job search.


General Public Interest Job Search Information

Equal Justice Works
EJW sponsors the only national public interest Career Fair (held every October in Washington, D.C.), offers attorney fellowships (create your own and others initiated by the sponsoring employer) and summer stipends for students working in qualified non-paying public interest jobs over the summer.  EJW also provides extensive information on the College Cost Reduction and Access Act – Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

PSLawNet
The College of Law subscribes to PSLawNet, a powerful directory of jobs and public interest employers. PSLawNet is a comprehensive job database linking more than 120 law schools and 10,000+ law-related public service organizations around the world. Students and alums can search for internships, summer jobs, fellowships, and post-graduation positions in government, non-profit and other public interest organizations. You can also conduct customized searches for information on organizations in specific practice areas and/or geographic regions, including international public interest opportunities. First time users must obtain a password. This is an easy process to navigate when viewing the home page. 


Not-for-Profit/Legal Aid Organizations

GOOD WORKS
A national directory of social change organizations which lists the aims and projects of over 1000 organizations and provides background information on contacts, starting salaries and benefits, types of staff openings, available internships, annual budget and funding sources, and the application process. It also profiles individuals who are building public interest careers.

National Fair Housing Advocate Online
This site contains nationwide listings for fair housing job opportunities.

Legal Aid Offices
Links to legal aid offices throughout the US.


Government

Prosecutor’s Offices

This site sponsored by the Eaton County Prosecuting Attorney provides links to District Attorneys, Prosecuting Attorneys, Attorneys General and US Attorneys nationwide.

Public Defender Offices

Provides information about securing employment in public defender offices. Harvard Law School also provides a comprehensive guide to pursuing a career as a public defender. 

State and Local Government

These websites provide links to state, county and local governments from across the country.

Government Honors & Internship Handbook

Developed by the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, this handbook provides comprehensive information about federal (and some state) honors and internship opportunities, including hiring information, deadlines and more. This is a password protected site. Contact the Professional & Career Development for more information.

Presidential Management Fellowship Program (PMF)

This website provides information about the PMF Program and application process, including General Information for Applicants, Nomination Process, Assessment Process, Appointment Process, How to Apply, and Common Mistakes When Applying. Contact the Office of Professional & Career Development for specific deadlines and essay information.


International Opportunities

Idealist

A general website that contains a searchable database of jobs for over 15,000 organizations and you can narrow your query to legal internships. 

Lawyers Without Borders

Good resource for finding international organizations with legal components. This website has a searchable database for post-graduate jobs.

United Nations Systems

This website provides the links to organizations that make up the United Nations System. It also provides a link to job opportunities.


Summer Fellowships/Funding

The Peggy Browning Fund

This program funds positions in a variety of unions and other legal organizations representing the needs and rights of workers. The deadline to apply is usually in mid-January. 

Equal Justice Works Summer Corps

Provides an educational award of $1,000 which may be applied to your law school tuition and may be combined with other fellowship stipends. The deadline is usually early spring. See


Post-Graduate Fellowships 

Equal Justice Works (EJW)

One of the largest national public interest fellowship programs that provides financial and technical support to lawyers working on innovative legal projects. Individuals come up with a project idea, develop a proposal, and find an organization to “sponsor” their project and provide supervision. The individual’s funding is paid with a combination of Equal Justice Works funding and other funding sources. Deadlines are early in the Fall. 

Skadden Foundation Fellowship

The aim of the foundation is to give Fellows the freedom to pursue public interest work. Fellows create their own projects at public interest organizations with at least two lawyers on staff before they apply. Fellowships are awarded for two years and applications are due in October. 

For further resources and information on conducting a public interest job search, students and alumni should refer to the Public Interest Job Search Guide in the Document Library of Symplicity or contact the Office of Professional & Career Development set up an appointment with a counselor.