Go to the U of M home page.

Home > Current Students > Academic Life > Public Interest

Public Interest

The University of Minnesota Law School offers numerous public interest academic, volunteer, and career opportunities through a wide variety of courses, 22 clinics, numerous research institutes, the Robina Public Interest Scholars Program, the recently launched Center for New Americans, and student organizations, including the Minnesota Justice Foundation and Asylum Law Project, all aimed at providing students and alumni the training, experience, skills, and contacts needed for public interest careers and pro bono work. The Law School's Career Center also offers a dedicated Assistant Director, Public Interest, to support public interest careers.

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, while helping badly stretched legal services providers better serve their clients and communities. Click here for more information.


The Law School offers more than 30 courses on public interest topics, including administrative law, civil rights, disability law, education law, international human rights, federal and state courts, health law, legislative process, local government economic development, and poverty law. Public interest courses are listed here: www.law.umn.edu/prospective/course-guide.html


The Law School offers one of the nation's largest and most distinguished programs of clinical education, with 22 diverse clinics, including Civil Rights Enforcement, Consumer Protection, Criminal Defense Appeals, Environmental Sustainability, and Human Rights Litigation and International Legal Advocacy, among others. A complete list of clinical programs is available here: www.law.umn.edu/prospective/clinics.html

Institutes & Journals

The Law School hosts a wide variety of research institutes that are committed to public interest work and make important contributions to legal scholarship and public policy research, including the Center for New Americans, the Human Rights Center, Institute on Crime and Public Policy, Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, and Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice offer students unique opportunities to explore worthwhile scholastic and community issues and to address challenges with real-world legal application.

Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, a student-edited journal, examines the social impact of law on disadvantaged people. Detailed information about the Law School's institutes and journals is found here: www.law.umn.edu/institutesjournals/index.html.

Summer Internships & Post-Graduate Fellowships

The Robina Foundation provides funding for numerous summer and post-graduate fellowships in public interest work. Fellowship and clerkship opportunities are also available through the Minnesota Justice Foundation, Albert & Anne Mansfield Foundation, University of Minnesota Human Rights Center, Equal Justice America, Equal Justice Works, Peggy Browning Fund, and many others. Clerkships with district, tribal, and federal courts are also available both locally and nationally. The Law School's Career Center provides additional support for summer and school-year field placements and work study opportunities in the public interest field.

Student Organizations

The Minnesota Justice Foundation's student chapter helps support careers in public interest law, sponsors a speaker series, and offers opportunities for socializing and networking with other public interest students and alumni.

Numerous other Law School organizations provide students with public interest opportunities for academic study, community service, and pro bono work, ranging from the Indian Services Project's work in providing pro bono services through clinics to Native American communities to the Asylum Law Project's-sponsored trips throughout the U.S. A full listing of student organizations is available here: www.law.umn.edu/prospective/studentorgs.html.

Minnesota Justice Foundation

The Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF), housed at the Law School, is a non-profit organization dedicated to linking law students with opportunities to assist both legal services and pro bono attorneys in meeting the legal needs of the low-income community. Law students have the opportunity to serve as volunteer law clerks in a variety of government, nonprofit, outreach clinic, and firm pro bono settings. Students who participate in 50 hours or more of law-related public service receive a special notation on their transcript. More information on MJF can be found at http://www.mnjustice.org/.

Career Development Support

Along with access to a full-time Assistant Director, Public Interest, who works one-on-one with students exploring careers in public service, the Career Center offers students and alums programming, targeted resources and connections, and support for public interest legal work, including summer opportunities, pro bono work, school-year experiences, and post graduate public interest careers. For more information on the services provided by the Career Center, visit www.law.umn.edu/careers/index.html.

The Law School Public Service Program

Among the Class of 2014, 97 students completed the 50-hour challenge in the Public Service Program, and more than half of them performed 100 or more hours of law-related volunteer service. The program, in collaboration with the Minnesota Justice Foundation, the Minnesota Bar Association, and more than 150 legal service providers, challenges law students to contribute at least 50 hours of law-related public service during their study years.