Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program

The Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program is a new program established by PDF iconAllen (‘56) and Linda Saeks that connects leading public interest and government organizations with high-achieving 3L students. Students work full-time during their third year of law school for a nonprofit or government agency and have a guaranteed, full-time, paid legal position with the same organization the year following graduation. This innovative model provides students with valuable legal training and a pipeline to employment, while providing the organizations with much-needed legal assistance.

Application and Selection Process

Students are selected on a competitive basis by partner organizations during their second year of law school. All 2L students at the University of Minnesota Law School who are interested in serving the public while earning their degree may apply. Applications are due February 6, 2017. The application is posted on the Law School’s Symplicity website. Program policies available PDF iconhere.

Residency Partner Organizations

More information about the partner organizations is available here.

Program Leadership

Amanda Furst, Director of Public Interest Programs, amfurst@umn.edu, (612) 626-7517
Derik Fettig, Visiting Assistant Professor, fett0021@umn.edu, 612-626-0532


What is the University of Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program?

Through the Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program, students gain nearly two years of significant legal experience in public or government service while earning their J.D. The two-year program begins in a student’s 3L year and continues into the first post-graduate year. During the 3L year, the student will work at a partner organization and participate in a complementary classroom component with other scholars in the program. After graduating and taking the bar exam, the graduate will return to the partner organization as a full-time paid employee for one full year post-graduation.

Who are the partner organizations?

The 2016-17 partners are: Hennepin County Attorney’s Office; Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid; Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office; Office of the Public Defender, Second District (Ramsey County); Ramsey County Attorney’s Office; Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office. Additional organizations may be added.

How do I prepare to be selected for the program?

Students apply in January of their 2L year. Interested students should discuss the program with their career counselor and verify their graduation requirements, paying special attention to the requirements for in-class coursework and required upper-division classes. Interested students should review selection criteria listed below.

How do I apply for the Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program?

Applications are due by Monday, February 6, 2017 at 11:59 pm. The application is posted on Symplicity. Students can apply for one or more partner organizations through one application. They will be asked to provide: (1) resume; (2) cover letter; (3) unofficial transcript; (4) personal statement; (5) list of references; (6) writing sample; and (7) interest form.

Can I apply to more than one partner organization?

Yes. Through one application, students can apply for one or more positions at partner organizations. Each organization will choose students to interview and hire. Students need only submit one application via Symplicity; this application will be sent to each partner organization of interest to the student.

What is the selection process?

A faculty committee will review and approve applicants to be considered by the partner organizations. The partner organization then will review each candidate’s application and schedule interviews with students. The partner organizations will communicate their selections to the Law School, which in turn will inform students. The student then will have a set period of time to accept the offer. If a student receives more than one offer from a partner organization, the student will have the option to choose the preferred placement. The timeline for the selection process is set forth below:

Monday, December 19 Program application opens in Symplicity
Monday, February 6 Student applications due via Symplicity
Tuesday, February 7 - Tuesday, February 14 Faculty committee review of applications
Wednesday, February 15 - Friday, March 24 Organization review of applications; Organization interviews
Friday, March 31 Organization selections due; Students notified of selections; Student responses due three (3) days after notification of selection

What are the selection criteria?

The faculty committee, as well as the partner organizations, will review each student’s entire application and consider the applicant’s qualifications based on a holistic view of the applicant’s submitted materials. The committee will consider various aspects of the candidate’s background, including: (1) academic achievements; (2) extracurricular activities; (3) personal statement and essays; (4) demonstrated interest in the public service and/or partner organization; (5) relevant employment, internships, or volunteer work.

When will I know if I have been accepted for this program?

Selection notification will begin the week of April 2, 2017.

When do students begin work for their partner organization?

Students will begin work with partner organization at the start of the fall semester. They are responsible for contacting their partner organization prior to the beginning of the semester to discuss a start date.

How many credits will I be able to earn through participation in the program?

Students earn a total of 20 credits per year and pay regular tuition. The breakdown of credits by component and semester is as follows:

  • Classroom component: 2 credits per semester, 4 credits per year; Led by Professor Derik Fettig
  • Externship component: 8 credits per semester, 16 credits per year

How can I reach full-time enrollment my 3L year?

Students will be able to enroll in additional law school courses as long as the course requirements and times do not conflict with the hours required by the partner organization or the student’s limitation on out-of-class credits. Enrollment in courses while participating in the program requires pre-approval from Amanda Furst, Director of Public Interest Programs.

Will the program satisfy my 3L writing requirement?

Yes. Students will receive opportunities for writing that will satisfy the American Bar Association’s writing requirements.

Will participation count toward concentrations offered by the Law School?

Participation in the program may count toward the course requirements for certain concentrations. Students seeking to apply the credit hours earned from the program toward a concentration should meet with the appropriate concentration faculty supervisor for approval.

How many hours per week do scholars work during their 3L year?

Students will work approximately 32 hours a week during their 3L year. These hours do not include the classroom component of the program, which adds an additional two (2) classroom hours per week. Students will arrange their schedules directly with their partner organization.

What if I want to leave during 3L year?

The program is a commitment between the student, the University, and the partner organization. As credits for the program are awarded on a yearly basis, students who are unable to complete a significant portion of one or both semesters will forfeit the credits (20) awarded for the program. Failure to complete the externship year in cases of illness or other unexpected circumstances will be evaluated by the faculty advisor on a case-by-case basis.

What if I want to leave during the fellowship year?

The student’s commitment to the program is a professional commitment. All participants are expected to complete the fellowship year and therefore should carefully evaluate whether they will be able to uphold a commitment to work for at least one year post-graduation for their partner organization before applying to the program. Failure to complete the fellowship year in cases of illness, injury, or other unexpected circumstances will be evaluated by the faculty advisor on a case-by-case basis.

If I am selected for the program, will I have time to study for the bar exam?

Yes. Students will end their 3L externship year on the last day of spring classes. They then will have a break until early fall to study for and take the bar exam.

What if I do not pass the bar exam?

It depends. While some partner organizations still may be able to employ the graduate as a law clerk, others may require graduates to be a licensed attorney in order to perform the tasks required during the fellowship year.

What kind of credit and compensation to participants receive?

Students will only receive externship credit for the externship year. Students will earn 10 credits per semester, 20 credits per year, upon satisfactory completion of the externship and class components of the program. During the post-graduate fellowship year, graduates will receive a salary plus standard benefits from their partner organization.

Who can I contact for more information about the University of Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program?

Please contact Amanda Furst, Director of Public Interest Programs, amfurst@umn.edu or 612-626-7517

Contact Information

University of Minnesota Law School

Walter F. Mondale Hall | 229 19th Avenue South | Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-625-1000

Email Us

Connect on Social Media