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Public Interest Careers

As part of a land-grant university, the University of Minnesota Law School has always had a strong commitment to public service. The Law School was one of the first in the country to create in-house legal aid clinics and still runs one of the largest and most robust clinical programs in the country. In addition, twenty-six years ago, a group of University of Minnesota law students created the Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF), which now provides "legal aid for thousands of under-represented Minnesotans by coordinating the efforts of the volunteer law students and attorneys." Last year alone, University of Minnesota Law School students provided over 17,000 hours of pro bono legal services to the community, in addition to the services provided through the Law School clinics. Many of these students wish to pursue a career in public interest work.

University of Minnesota Law School students and alumni have embarked on a wide variety of public interest careers. Each summer, our students find summer positions in the public interest field in direct legal services or advocacy organizations in Minnesota and throughout the nation. Our graduates have served as Equal Justice Works fellows, Skadden fellows, staff attorneys, and have gone on to become national leaders in public interest legal work.

Robina Public Interest Scholars Program

Supported by major funding from the Robina Foundation, the Robina Public Interest Scholars Program creates a seamless path from admission to full-time employment for students interested in public service careers. As one of the only integrated programs of its kind in the country, the Robina Public Interest Scholars Program builds on the Law School's long history of public service in providing transformative opportunities for interested students and helping badly stretched legal services providers better serve their clients and communities. Click here for more information.

Start Your Public Interest Career

Each member of the Career Center team is experienced in working with law students and alumni interested in pursuing public interest careers. The Career Center offers one-on-one counseling, programming, and resources dedicated to supporting public interest careers. Along with a full-time Assistant Director, Public Interest, the Career Center has extensive resources for students interested in a career in public interest law, summer opportunities, or volunteering during law school. Additional resources reserved for our students are available here.

Volunteer

The Minnesota Justice Foundation offers volunteer placements in nearly every area of law, with commitment levels ranging from a one-day clinic to 20 hours per week. By volunteering, students gain practical experience in a particular area of law and access to a larger network of contacts in the legal community, both integral to a job search and career development. Find out more about the Minnesota Justice Foundation at http://www.mnjustice.org/.

Summer Public Interest Work & Funding

For local and national summer public interest work, recommended resources include Symplicity, the Minnesota Justice Foundation, PSJD and the Government Honors Guide. Clerkships with district, tribal, and federal courts are also available both local and nationally.

A number of programs offer students working in the public interest field an opportunity to gain financial support for a public interest summer internship. With these, students receive a stipend for a position at a public service organization during their 1L or 2L summer. Grants for students are from a wide variety of programs and range from $500 to $5,000. Students may also earn funding for summer placements or school-year placements through work study funding.

The Robina Foundation provides funding for numerous summer internships in public policy work and public interest work. Summer clerkship funding opportunities are also available through the Minnesota Justice Foundation, the MJF student board Public Interest Clerkship (PIC) grants, Human Rights Fellowships, among others. For more information, see the Career Center Resources. For a list of national summer funding, check PSJD.

Post-Graduate Jobs, Fellowships, & Funding

Postgraduate jobs and fellowships through international, national, and other programs specific to the University of Minnesota Law School offer a wide variety of opportunities for our recent graduates and alumni.

For postgraduate positions, check Symplicity, PSJD, and the Government Honors Handbook. Most recently, the Law School funded five year-long fellowships through the Robina foundation and over 30 short-term, post-graduate Bridge fellowships for graduates in the class of 2013. For more information, see the Career Center Resources.

Other Resources & Loan Repayment and Forgiveness

The Career Center offers programming and education in the areas of Loan Forgiveness and Repayment, Finding and Funding Public Interest work, Post-Graduate Fellowships, Developing Public Interest Lawyering Skills, among other skill building, career development, and educational programs.

Our graduates find additional support for public interest careers through federal loan repayment assistance programs and the Loan Repayment Assistance Program of Minnesota (LRAP), which helps make public interest careers possible by assisting with loan repayment. LRAP is supported by donations from the area law schools, firms and attorneys. For more information on federal loan repayment assistance, check out Equal Justice Works.

Career Center Resources

Call 612-625-1866 or email lawcareers@umn.edu to make an appointment with your career counselor.

Visit Symplicity for student and alumni job postings.

Visit https://inside.law.umn.edu/career-center/public-interest for more information.