Public Interest retreat

Public Interest & Pro Bono

Welcome to the website of the Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono at Duke Law School. We are committed to providing students with experiential learning opportunities that not only contribute to their professional development, but also stress the value of service. Students provide law-related services in a broad array of areas including criminal law, environmental law, and civil rights, and work with Legal Aid, nonprofit advocacy groups, government, and private attorneys in their pro bono work. Whether students opt to take on significant commitments with student pro bono groups such as the Guardian ad Litem program or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, the Public Interest and Pro Bono program gives them a chance to engage intellectually and reflect on the value of service.

Public interest is broadly defined at Duke Law School.  Lawyers are looked to as leaders in their communities and most are called upon frequently to serve their communities; indeed, they are exhorted to do so by the codes of professional responsibility of state bars. Lawyers have many opportunities to serve: you may choose a career in the public sector, or do pro bono work at your law firm. You may serve the community as an elected official, an advisor on a nonprofit board, as a member of a public commission or school board. However you choose to serve, we are here to support and encourage you and to help you create the educational opportunities that will lead to a life of service in the law and beyond.


In addition to the Pro Bono Program, the office broadly supports public interest programming and resources. Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, the office is partnering with faculty and staff throughout the school to assist students working towards a Certificate in Public Interest and Public Service Law.  In conjunction with the Career and Professional Development Center, the office provides extensive programming, including hosting a fall semester speakers’ series focused on government and public interest legal careers, an annual public interest retreat for students, and the Duke Law Alumni/Student Reception in D.C. during the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair.  The office administers several law school programs which provide financial support to students, including: fellowships and grants to support public interest summer internships; funding to allow students to attend public interest conferences; and funding for interview travel expenses for third year students. 

"Altruism combined with realism; knowledge of fundamental principles and capacity to apply them; courage to insist on the right and patience to achieve it; understanding of the timidity of the weak; fearlessness of the domination of the powerful; sympathy for the mistakes of the indiscreet; caution of the craftiness of the unprincipled; enthusiasm for that which is fine and inspiring; reverence for that which is sacred; these are some of the attributes of great lawyers."

Justin Miller, creator of the clinical legal education model and
dean of Duke Law School, 1930-34