Public Interest Law
Public interest law is aimed at furthering the interests of the public in general and providing assistance to poor or marginalized communities. It covers a broad range of topics and types of work. Public interest careers can take place at government agencies, non-profit organizations, and in law firms.
How to Gain Experience in Public Interest Law
LAW SCHOOL PUBLIC SERVICE PROGRAM: In conjunction with Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF), Mitchell Hamline students can engage in public interest volunteer opportunities as early as the summer before their first year of law school. Create an MJF account https://www3.thedatabank.com/dpg/197/vol/personal2.asp?formid=vol_signup to view volunteer opportunities and connect with the MJF staff attorney housed at Mitchell Hamline. Students who volunteer at least 50 hours over the course of their law school career will receive recognition at graduation.
MITCHELL HAMLINE CLINICS: Choose from one of many clinic programs that offer students an opportunity to represent low income clients under the supervision of a Mitchell Hamline clinical professor.
EXTERNSHIPS: Gain experience in a variety of public interest areas while working under the supervision of attorneys in the field. Gain hands on experience while earning course credit.
COURSEWORK: Many of the classes students take will teach them skills needed to practice public interest law. Students also have the opportunity to enroll in the Poverty Law class to explore issues specific to a public interest practice.
JOURNAL OF PUBLIC LAW AND POLICY: Join this student-run and student-edited journal that publishes volumes with articles pertaining to public interest issues.
Summer Fellowship Opportunities
MJF SUMMER FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM: Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF) provides opportunities for paid summer clerkships for students to work at partner agencies. The formal application process typically commences in the beginning of the spring semester, and interested students should watch for more information in the preceding fall semester. In the meantime, you can learn more about the Summer Fellowship Program on MJF’s website.
MITCHELL HAMLINE MJF PUBLIC INTEREST LAW FELLOWSHIP: Mitchell Hamline’s MJF student chapter also coordinates and raises funds to support additional Public Interest Law Fellowships (PILF). In order to receive PILF funding, students must identify their own agencies and prepare their own proposals for summer experiences. Watch for information about PILF fundraisers and application procedures in the spring semester, and contact the MJF staff attorney for more information.
Equal Justice Works
Equal Justice Works (EJW) is a nation-wide organization that funds students’ independent grant proposals for public interest work. EJW also funds post-graduate fellowships.
Other Resources for Funding Public Interest Work
Loan Repayment Programs
Mitchell Hamline’s Financial Aid Office has information about loan repayment programs for students and alumni working in public interest jobs.
PSJD is a national resource for law students and attorneys interested in public service. Among other resources, PSJD includes an extensive jobs database with a variety of public interest opportunities, include paid and unpaid internships, fellowship opportunities, and more. Mitchell Hamline is already a subscribing member, so to utilize this resource, students can create an account using their Mitchell Hamline email.