Public Interest Careers

Main Content

At Duke we take a holistic approach to career counseling, encouraging students to include public interest work in both their long-term and short-term plans. In addition to resume preparation and interview training, students are exposed to public interest programming, informative career panels, speakers, and workshops throughout the year, designed to educate on all aspects of public interest legal practice.

Whether you are interested in summer public interest work, careers in the public sector, or private firms offering pro bono opportunities, the public interest and pro bono dean will be happy to talk with you about your background, your future aspirations, and your immediate career needs. Students may sign up for the public interest listserv to receive news on selected job openings, fellowships, events, pro bono opportunities, etc.

The Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono also works closely with the Career & Professional Development Center to offer students and alumni the support they need in making decisions about their careers. The Career Center offers career counseling in all sectors - firms, non-profit, government, international, and less traditional legal positions. It has an extremely high record of placement and boasts one of the most comprehensive on-campus interviewing programs in the country. Each year a wide variety of public interest and government employers participate in the on-campus program.

The Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono works with students on careers in many ways:

  • Counseling on careers alone or in conjunction with counseling students on the pro bono activities students wish to pursue while at Duke Law
  • Acquainting students with the benefits they receive from Equal Justice Works.
  • Administering several summer fellowship programs that are available exclusively for Duke Law students. For more, see Summer Fellowships.
  • Hosting a "Table Talk" session on Summer Public Interest Employment Recognition Day. Here, students who have worked in the public sector the last two summers sit at tables organized by subject (legal aid, US Attorney, environment, international, civil rights, etc.) so that first-year students can receive peer counseling and networking assistance.
  • Working with the Career Center on programs advising students on finding and funding summer fellowships and applying for post-graduate fellowships.
  • Sponsoring programs -- from the overnight Public Interest Retreat featuring a public interest keynote and alumni speakers to the many lunchtime events -- that have a career element to them. Be sure to look for announcements and information about upcoming events.