Public interest organizations, such as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Public Defender Offices, and Legal Aid Offices, are popular employment choices for students. These positions offer unparalleled practical experience for law students, and provide the intrinsic value of working for an organization that promotes justice by representing individuals, groups, causes, or issues identified as traditionally under-represented or unrepresented in our society.
While there are often numerous positions available for law students in public interest organizations, many of these organizations cannot afford to pay summer interns. At Duke, the Law School and the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) annually support summer interns through endowments and grants from fundraising efforts. Students remaining in North Carolina for the summer also routinely receive grants from the state bar as a source of funding. Basic information about these types of financial support is available on the public interest and pro bono website; for additional information, see us or contact the Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono.
In addition to our internal resources, Duke Law School subscribes to several external resources for public interest employment, including websites and publications, which inform students about public interest conferences, internships, fellowships, employment opportunities and nonprofit organizations.
Students considering careers in public interest or government are encouraged to contact Career Counselor Stella Boswell for individual career counseling.
Law Firm/Public Interest Split Summer
Several law firms have programs that enable students to work one half of their summer with the law firm and the other half with a public interest organization, with the law firm paying the students' salaries for the entire summer. The Yale Law School Career Development Office maintains a list of Firms Sponsoring Split Public Interest Summers, and makes the list available to the general public.