Public service work is an excellent way to gain legal experience and make future contacts. For students interested in postgraduate careers in public service, gaining work experience is critical. Finding a paid summer or school-year internship, however, can be challenging. Funding constraints and the popularity of certain programs enable employers to offer positions with little or no salary.
Although some individual organizations and offices pay interns or host their own fellowship programs, most do not and rely on the student to obtain funding from another source.
The programs listed below are by no means the only sources of jobs and internships in public service but are popular programs among Kent students. For a comprehensive list of public interest funding resources, please visit PSJD.org.
Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI)
The PILI Internship program places first and second year law students in designated Chicago area public interest organizations during the summer, spring and fall semesters. A PILI intern receives a $5,000 stipend for ten weeks of full time summer work, and participates in weekly educational programs. Information is available at pili.org/internships. Students should apply early to assure consideration. First years may apply on December 1; and second years may apply on October 15.
Kent Justice Foundation Summer Fellowships
The Kent Justice Foundation ("KJF") coordinates fundraising efforts and administers summer public interest law fellowships for Chicago-Kent students. KJF believes that students should not be kept from working in public interest jobs because of financial reasons; therefore, KJF awards fellowships to assist students who work in low-paying or volunteer public interest positions during the summer by helping to defray costs. Applicants apply in the early spring and are reviewed based upon financial need, personal statements, participation in KJF fundraising and volunteer events, and participation in outside volunteer activities. In past years, 10-15 students have been awarded $500-$5000, and they have worked for organizations such as the Chicago Legal Clinic; The Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago; Citizen Advocacy Center; AIDS Legal Council of Chicago; Equip for Equality; Cook County Public Guardian; Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Cook County Public Defender's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Community-Based Federal Work Study
The Community-Based Federal Work Study program at Chicago-Kent College of Law, provides financial assistance to students working at government and non-profit organization in the Chicago-region. For more information visit our Community-Based Federal Work Study page.
Equal Justice Works Americorp JD Program
Summer Corps provides $1,212 education award vouchers to 1L's and 2L's who spend the summer engaging in 300 hours of service. Summer Corps members secure internships at non-profit public interest organizations or state/local government agencies of their own choosing and work on a broad range of issue areas. Details regarding this program are available at www.equaljusticeworks.org.
Equal Justice America Legal Service Fellowships
This program provides fellowships to students working in organizations providing direct civil legal services to the poor. Students work 35 to 40 hours per week for at least 10 weeks and are provided a $4,000 stipend. For application information, go to www.equaljusticeamerica.org.
Other Places to Consider
- Bar Associations
- Churches and religious organizations
- Employers or resources at your placement
- Foundations or traditional grant sources
Alternatives to Funding
- Part-Time Work: Some students have obtained part-time work to supplement their summer legal work.
- Externships: Students participating in legal work without compensation at approved nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, or for judges can earn academic credit for their work. For more information regarding externship credit requirements, contact Professor Vivien Gross.
- Summer classes: Students can take a class in the summer, and receive student loans.