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

  • 1 upper-level course that directly supports a student’s individual substantive area of interest (e.g. Environmental Law, Poverty Law, Advanced Criminal Law, etc.)
  • 1 upper-level course in the student’s anticipated “advocacy site,” i.e., a course that will promote a student’s understanding of the specific adjudicatory, regulatory or other decision-making institutions where her future advocacy likely is to occur (e.g. a student interested in criminal defense might select Criminal Procedure or Criminal Trial Practice; a student interested in Civil Rights might select Civil Rights Litigation or Federal Courts)
  • 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.

*It is suggested (but not required) that students take Social Justice Lawyering (Law 242) and either Ethics of Social Justice Lawyering (Law 237) or Criminal Justice Ethics (Law 317) to fulfill their ethics requirement.

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, Assistant 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)

Anne Gordon, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Externships

Sara Sternberg Greene, Professor of Law

Ben Grunwald, Associate Professor of Law

Allison Korn, Clinical Professor of Law; Director, Health Justice Clinic

James Lambert, Director of Academic Advising (Ex Officio)

Adam Golden, Class of 2023

Connor Sakati, Class of 2024

Recent Graduates

Eric Knapp '18

Legal Honors Program
U.S. Department of Transportation (
Washington, D.C.)

ErEric Knappic applied to Duke Law committed to a career in public service. Through his interests in communications, economics, and regulatory work, he quickly found a passion for federal agency work. Eric attended the University of Mary Washington and graduated with a B.S. in Psychology and Religion, summa cum laude. He devoted much of his time in college volunteering in his community; he participated in a Big Brother Big Sister program, served at a hospitality house for the homeless, and interned at an outpatient substance abuse clinic. Before coming to Duke, Eric volunteered with Rappahannock Legal Services in Fredericksburg, VA, assisting low income clients with family law and tenant cases. Eric interned his 1L summer with the Legal Counsel for the Elderly (Washington, D.C.) and his 2L summer with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Wireline Competition Bureau, Pricing Policy Division (Washington, D.C.). During his law school career, he externed with the Legal Department of (Raleigh, NC), worked full time Fall Semester of his 3L year at the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Competition, Healthcare Division (Washington, D.C.) through the Duke in DC externship program, and was Research Assistant to Professor Kimberly D. Krawiec. Eric was also the Vice President of Events for the Duke Law and Economics Society and 1L Curriculum Committee Representative for the Duke Bar Association

Courtney Magnus '18

2018-19 Duke Law Class of '87 Fellow
Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida (Plantation, FL)

Courtney MagnusCourtney graduated from the University of Miami with a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology, magna cum laude. She came to Duke Law committed to a career helping low-income and underserved individuals, inspired by her prior work as a Public Benefits Administrator, where she assisted low-income, uninsured, hospital patients with determining Medicaid eligibility. She interned her 1L summer with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) and her 2L summer with Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida, her current fellowship host organization. Through law school, Courtney explored her passion for legal services, health law, and public benefits through her coursework, extracurricular activities, and leadership. She was a Certified Law Student practitioner in Duke Law's Health Justice Clinic, executing advanced directives for HIV-positive individuals and individuals with cancer diagnoses, as well as representing low-income clients on social security disability and Medicaid denial appeals before a federal Administrative Law Judge. She was also a Certified Law Student in Duke Law's Civil Justice Clinic, defending tenants in eviction cases and representing healthcare workers in professional license revocation appeals before the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings. Courtney was Executive Editor on the Duke Law Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy, Merchandise Director for the Public Interest Law Foundation, an officer with the Government & Public Service Society, and a volunteer for the Cancer Pro Bono Project

Kinjal Patel '18

2018-20 Skadden Fellow
Staten Island Legal Services (Staten Island, NY)

Kinjal PatelKinjal came to Duke Law intent on leveraging her law degree to directly affect social change on behalf of underrepresented and stigmatized populations. She graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology, cum laude, from Amherst College and worked for two years prior to law school at Boston Children's Hospital, researching discrimination of HIV-positive gay and bisexual Black men. During law school, Kinjal tailored her coursework and activities to address legal issues around health justice, sexual assault, and domestic violence. She interned her 1L summer with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (Cambridge, MA) and her 2L Summer with the Women’s Law Project (Philadelphia, PA). During the academic year, she was a Certified Law Student in the Duke Law Health Justice Clinic, representing a client in a guardianship proceeding, and was an extern with Honeycutt Everett & Associates (Durham, NC), advocating in court on behalf of clients seeking domestic violence protection orders. Kinjal was also a Volunteer Crisis Line Advocate for the Durham Crisis Response Center and a leader with the Coalition Against Gendered Violence student group. Through her Skadden Fellowship project, Kinjal represents low-income LGBTQ and HIV-affected Staten Islanders on legal issues particularly affecting these two groups, including health-related issues, name and gender marker changes, and housing, immigration, family law, and discrimination matters. Prior to Kinjal’s fellowship, Staten Island was the only borough in New York City without a full-time attorney devoted to assisting these communities. 

Current Students

Log in to see program deadlines and access application and program materials.