Summer Public Interest Funding

Duke Law School is proudly able to offer guaranteed funding for summer internships with public interest or government entities. The information below explains the types of funding that are offered, as well as the types of job that fall under each category. Examples of typically funded internships or positions include public defender offices, US Attorney offices, US Department of Justice, legal aid organizations, and many more.

Applications for Summer Funding for 2017 will be available in January, 2017.

Please email Emily Sharples with any questions regarding Duke Law Summer Funding.

Duke Law Specific Funding

Dean's Summer Service Grant

The Dean's Summer Service Grant provides summer funding to 1L and 2L students who secure a qualifying public service position for the summer, including: local, state, or federal government; not-for-profit organizations or non-governmental organizations (including international); and summer judicial clerkships (for 2Ls only). In order to qualify for a full grant, 1Ls must commit to at least 8 weeks (at 40 hours per week) and 2Ls to at least 10 weeks; funding may be pro-rated for lesser commitments or split summers. The grant amounts for 2Ls are higher than for 1Ls.

To receive funding, students must complete 20 hours of public service during the year, 10 of which must be with the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) (see below). The other 10 hours may be with a pro bono project (approved by the Office of Public Interest & Pro Bono), or may also be completed through PILF. Students may also apply for competitive funding through other Duke Law sources noted below or may seek additional funding outside the Law School (e.g., from employers directly, Equal Justice Works Summer Grants, Stanback Fellowships, etc.) up to a total amount of $6000 without a reduction in the Grant amount.

PILF is a student-run fundraising organization whose mission is to help the law school raise money to award fellowships to 1L and 2L students who accept unpaid summer public interest internships. Any student who contributes at least 10 volunteer hours to PILF’s annual fundraising efforts and another 10 hours to PILF or an approved pro bono project is guaranteed funding. PILF’s largest annual fundraiser is its Auction & Gala in the spring semester, other fundraisers, including Duke Law merchandise sales, take place throughout the year.

Duke Endowed Public Interest Summer Fellowships

These Summer Fellowships are made possible through endowments to Duke Law School from generous alumni donors. To qualify for these Fellowships, applicants must secure a summer position with a non-profit, NGO, or government organization in the US or abroad; judicial clerkship positions are not eligible for these Fellowships. Open to 1Ls and 2Ls; full summer (8 or 10 weeks at 40 hours per week) and split summer arrangements are eligible. Successful applicants will have a demonstrated commitment to developing a career in the public interest. These are competitive Fellowships, with a preference for 2Ls. The funding committee will consider student involvement in public interest and pro bono activities at Duke Law and prior public interest and volunteer work.

Horvitz Public Law Fellowships

Funding for Horvitz Fellowships is made possible through a donation by alumnus Rick Horvitz '78. These Fellowships may be awarded to 1L and 2L students who secure summer positions related to public law, including positions with: State Attorneys General and Solicitor Generals; Department of Justice; other Federal positions where the work is related to Constitutional matters; federal executive branch office internships, including positions with the White House or Cabinet offices; and positions with organizations that work on issues of federalism, civil liberties, or other constitutional law-related issues. Full summer (10 weeks at 40 hours per week) and split summer arrangements are eligible. Summer judicial clerkships are not eligible for this funding. This is a competitive Fellowship. Successful applicants will have a demonstrated commitment to developing a career in the public interest; other factors which will be considered are involvement in public interest and pro bono activies at Duke Law and prior public interest and volunteer work.

Students that receive funding from any of the above sources must stipulate that they will do the following: 
  • Send a personal thank you letter to identified donor(s) describing their summer work; 
  • Participate in programming to discuss summer positions for the following summer;
  • If they work in the private sector 2L summer and earn more than $20,000 for the two summers combined, they will donate two days' pay or half of their grant amount back to PILF following their 2L summer.

Other Duke Funding

Stanback Internship Program, Environmental Law and Policy

The Stanback Internship Program is administered by the Nicholas School of Environment and is available to graduate-level Duke students. The program provides a $5,000 stipend for 11 weeks of work with one of more than 50 Stanback-approved environmental organizations. Split summers may be pro-rated. Stanback projects are not law-exclusive; some involve science, policy, advocacy and other conservation-related work. Every year, between 6-18 Duke Law Students complete Stanback internships. Some of the Stanback Fellowships for law students only are posted on Symplicity and have deadlines beginning in the fall semester. Many others are run through the Nicholas School's Career Link system with applications due in January and interviews in February. Students may also approach Stanback-designated law and policy organizations in advance of the deadlines to propose a specific project. Please see Emily Sharples for additional information. Learn more about the program

Other Funding Sources

This website has a comprehensive list of summer funding resources tied to particular internships, types of work or geographic locations. See “Funding and Debt” under the Resource Section of the website.

Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps JD

The EJW AmericCorps program is an AmeriCorps-funded program that provides a $1,212 education voucher for 300 hours of summer legal work at a nonprofit public interest organization. The application window for this program is open from December to April and awards are made on a rolling basis.

McMillan Fellowship Program

Interested in working in Charlotte this summer? The McMillan Fellowship Program offers stipends of up to $3000 for summer internships to law students working with participating employers in Mecklenburg County. Students should be interested in pursuing a law career in the nonprofit or public interest sector in. Students will need to apply for and receive a position, and the employer will then submit an application on behalf of the student. You can view 2016 participating employers here. Applications from the employers are due on March 1. Summer 2017 participating employers will be posted early in the year.

Rural Summer Legal Corps

Run in conjunction with Equal Justice Works, the Rural Summer Legal Corps connects public interest law students with Legal Services Corporation-funded civil legal aid organizations around the country. Students receive a $4,000 stipend with one of the 31 positions open; locations include Alaska Legal Services Corporation, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Legal Aid of Arkansas, Legal Aid of West Virginia and many more. Applications for 2016 were due February 29 and participants had to complete 300 hours of service by August 31, 2016 to receive the full stipend.


If you have any questions about summer public interest and public service fellowship opportunities, please see Stella Boswell, Assistant Dean of Public Interest and Career Development, or Emily Sharples, Manager, Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono.