The three main components of the Certificate in Public Interest Law Program are course work, service and career planning. Requirements consist of six steps below:

  1. Letter of intent
  2. Public Interest career planning meeting
  3. Curriculum planning meeting
  4. Completing course work
  5. Completing a Certificate of Service
  6. Application for completion of the program

Information about the Program in Public Interest Law is also available in our J.D. Certificate in Public Interest Law Information Guide.

I. Letter of intent

Candidates must submit a letter of intent at least six months before graduation indicating their intent to obtain the certificate, though students are urged to submit the letter as early in law school as possible.

The signed letter should be dropped off at the Center for Access to Justice & Technology, Room 775. Those submitting a letter of intent are not bound to complete the program. Withdrawal occurs either through inaction or giving formal notice to the Center for Access to Justice and Technology.

Students who enter the certificate program receive email notices of upcoming events and deadlines related to the program.

II. Career planning meeting

Within six weeks of submitting the letter of intent, students must complete a Public Interest Career Plan Survey, available either online or at the Career Services Office, Suite 360. The survey enables Career Services counselors to assist students in defining their career goals.

After completing the survey, candidates should contact Career Services to schedule a career planning meeting.

III. Curriculum planning meeting

After submitting the letter of intent, students should contact Professor Carolyn Shapiro, director of the certificate program, to schedule a meeting to discuss course work that meets their interests and fulfills the certificate requirements. Prof. Shapiro also holds a "Course Picking Session" for public interest students at the end of each semester before registration begins for the next semester. Attendance at this session fulfills the Curriculum Planning Meeting requirement.

Professor Shapiro's office is located in Room 753. Phone: (312) 906-5392. Email:

IV. Course work requirements

The Certificate in Public Interest Law requires a total of 12 hours of course work. Students should have their elective courses approved during the Curriculum Planning Meeting with Professor Shapiro. Courses taken pass/fail do not satisfy the requirement.

V. Completion of the Chicago-Kent Certificate of Service

Prior to graduation, students must satisfactorily complete 50 hours of pro bono community service and document their hours with Chicago-Kent's Public Interest Research Center (PIRC). This student-staffed office assists students in finding legal and extra-legal volunteer projects, either one-time or ongoing.

VI. Application for Completion of the Certificate in Public Interest Law

By April 1 of the student's final semester before graduation, the Application for Completion must be filed with the Registrar to verify that course work has been completed for the Certificate in Public Interest Law.

Applications should be returned to the Center for Access to Justice & Technology, Room 775. If there are any changes after the application has been returned, a new application should be submitted.