Certificate: Public Interest and Public Service Law

Main Content

The Certificate in Public Interest and Public Service Law (PIPS Certificate) is a JD certificate program for students committed to a legal career in public service.


Enrolled students complete curricular requirements and are assigned faculty mentors in order to assist them in selecting academic, clinical and experiential courses that will help them develop competencies necessary toward achieving their professional aspirations. Students in the program benefit from a community of peers, faculty, administrators and Duke Law alumni committed to supporting them as they pursue careers in public interest and public service. 


Students interested in the PIPS Certificate must submit an application. Enrolled students can access the application in the "Enrolled Students" section to the right. Students who successfully complete the requirements of the program are awarded a Certificate at graduation. Certificate requirements overlap with and are not in addition to the general degree requirements for the JD program.

I. Curricular Requirements

  • 2 upper-level courses related to the student’s anticipated substantive area of specialization in public interest or public service law. This requirement should be met through two courses in the student’s anticipated area of focus or one course in the anticipated area of focus and a second course related to the setting in which the student intends to practice (e.g., Federal Courts, Administrative Law, Trial Practice, Appellate Practice).
  • 6 experiential credits (through clinics; clinics & externships; Duke in DC; or, with approval, exclusively through externship programming).
  • 8 general public interest elective credits.
  • Students must fulfill their substantial research and writing project on an approved public interest topic.

II. Public Service Requirements

  • Perform at least 75 hours of public service
  • Work full-time for at least 8 weeks over a summer in public interest or public service employment.

Public Interest and Pro Bono Faculty Committee

Michelle B. Nowlin, Chair and Clinical Professor of Law; Co-Director, Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

Stella A. Boswell, Associate Dean of Public Interest and Pro Bono (Ex Officio)

Hannah Demeritt, Clinical Professor of Law

D.J. Dore, Director of Pro Bono (Ex Officio)

Kate Evans, Clinical Professor of Law

Bethan Eynon, Director of Public Interest Careers (Ex Officio)

Elana Fogel, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

Anne Gordon, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Externships

Ben Grunwald, Associate Professor of Law

James Lambert, Director of Academic Advising (Ex Officio)

Connor Sakati, Class of 2024 (Ex Officio)

Allyson Barkley, Class of 2025 (Ex Officio)

Melana Dayanim, Class of 2025 (Ex Officio)

Current Students

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