Summer Public Interest Funding

Duke Law School is proudly able to offer funding for summer internships with public interest or government entities. 2L students have guaranteed funding through the Dean’s Summer Service Grants, provided they perform 10 hours of pro bono work throughout the school year. 1L students are eligible for all other sources of funding and are encouraged to apply. The information below explains the types of funding that are offered, as well as the type of job that falls 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 2016 are now CLOSED. Please email Emily Sharples with any questions regarding Duke Law Summer Funding.

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 (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 when weighing applications for Endowed Public Interest Summer Fellowships, including participation in: PILF, the Public Interest Retreat, Career Center programming on "Finding and Funding Summer Public Interest Work," the Government & Public Interest Careers Speakers Series, the Duke Law Pro Bono Project (performing pro bono hours, as well as participating in pro bono student group leadership), and prior public interest work 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, with a preference for 2Ls.

Dean's Summer Service Grants (2Ls only)

The Dean's Service Grant guarantees $3500 in summer funding to 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 internships. Students must commit to at least 10 weeks at 40 hours per week in order to qualify for a full Grant; funding may be pro-rated for lesser commitments or split summers. Students must complete at least 10 hours of pro bono service within the school year prior to the application deadline (coordinated with and tracked by the PIPB Office). Students 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 (i.e., up to $2500 in other funding) without a reduction in the Grant amount. Note that the $6000 cap is for a full summer; therefore students splitting their summer with a paid private sector position generally are not eligible for a Dean’s Summer Service Grant.

Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF)

PILF is a student-run fundraising organization whose mission is to raise money to award fellowships to 1L and 2L students who accept unpaid summer public interest internships. Summer judicial clerkships are not funded. Any student who contributes at least 20 volunteer hours to PILF’s annual fundraising efforts is guaranteed a full PILF grant, awarded out of of the funds raised by the organization that year. PILF’s largest annual fundraiser is its Auction & Gala, held each February. For students that receive other funding, including funding from other Duke Law sources, PILF will award a smaller “thank you grant” to acknowledge their help in raising the funds. Grant amounts are determined by how much is raised and how many students complete their hours and are eligible for funding. PILF volutneer fundraising hours do not count towards pro bono hours, and pro bono hours do not count towards PILF fundraising hours. The PILF application is a completely separate application than the one submitted for Duke Law funding.

Learn more about PILF

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. Learn more about the program

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 provides education award vouchers to summer legal interns who complete 300 hours of work at a nonprofit public interest organization. For the 2013-2014 year, participants were instructed to serve veterans or victims of disaster for at least 60 hours as part of the 300, though this service can also be completed during the school year. More information regarding the 2015-2016 program will be up soon.

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 participating employers here. Applications from the employers are due on March 1 so you will need to apply as soon as possible.

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 are due February 29 and participants must complete 300 hours of service by August 31, 2016 to receive the full stipend.

2016 Application Instructions

Please note: This application has TWO parts. You will apply via Symplicity (where you will need to attach materials as explained below) and you will also need to fill out this Duke Summer Public Interest Funding Survey. You can fill out the survey before or after you apply via Symplicity, but your application will not be considered complete until you have done both things.

  1. Log on to Symplicity. Choose the "Jobs/Resume Collect" tab, and search for "Duke Law Summer Funding 2016" (include the quotation marks and the entire search phrase in the search box in order to easily locate the posting);
  2. Fill out and save the Duke Summer Fellowship Personal Statement 2016 (attached to the Symplicity posting and also found here);
  3. Click "Apply" and upload your Resume;
  4. Upload your completed Personal Statement as a COVER LETTER (the type of document you select; you do not actually need a cover letter); and
  5. Upload your offer letter/email from your summer employer as document type OTHER.

If you have correctly completed the process of uploading your Resume, Application Form, and Offer Letter, Symplicity will reflect that you have "Applied" for Summer Public Interest Funding; be sure to fill out the Duke Summer Public Interest Funding Survey as well to have you application be considered complete.

TIPS: Make sure to upload your resume and personal statement as WORD documents (NOT PDFs) as Symplicity will convert them and it makes for an easier upload. Some offer letters are WORD or PDF files that are very large, typically because of employer logos; if you have trouble uploading these try saving them as a PDF document in Adobe Acrobat where you should select the option to save it as smaller size file.


If you have any questions about summer public interest and public service fellowship opportunities, please see Stella Boswell, Director, Office of Public Interest Advising or Emily Sharples, Manager, Office of Public Interest Advising.