Public Interest Funding

Duke Law School proudly offers guaranteed funding for summer internships with public interest or government entities. Summer 2019 applications will likely open in January and be due in mid-MarchThe law school also offers limited funding for attendance at public interest conferences and travel for public interest interviews; see the nagivation bar to the right for more information. 

Summer Funding

Duke Law School proudly offers guaranteed funding for summer internships with public interest or government entities. Funding is also available on a competitive basis for judicial internships, work in entertainment law, and to students committed to careers in government or public interest.  See the "Duke University Funding" page for funding related to specific environmental internships and the "External Funding Sources" page for sources related to specific practice areas or in specific geographic locations.  

Duke Law Funding

Please note that for Endowed Public Interest Summer Fellowships and Dean’s Summer Service Grants, students may seek additional funding outside the Law School or Duke University, including from their employer or through external sources, up to a total of $6500 without a reduction in their grant amount.

Duke Endowed Public Interest Summer Fellowships

These competitive 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 U.S. or abroad.  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; other factors which will be considered are involvement in public interest and pro bono activities at Duke Law and prior public interest and volunteer work. These are competitive fellowships, with a preference for 2Ls.  Students awarded these fellowships typically receive more funding than they would through solely a Dean’s Summer Service Grant.

Dean's Summer Service Grant

The Dean’s Service Grant guarantees* summer funding to students who secure a qualifying public service position for the summer, including: local, state, or federal government; not-for-profit organizations or NGOs (including international); and summer judicial clerkships (2Ls only). 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. Grant amounts for 2Ls are higher than for 1Ls. 

*Students must complete at least 20 hours of public service work during the school year to receive funding; at least 10 hours must be through volunteering with PILF (see below) and the remaining 10 may be through PILF or through a pro bono project that is approved by the Office of Public Interest and Pro Bono. Clinic and externship hours in excess of what is required for academic credit count as public service for funding purposes.

Dean’s Summer Service Grants are heavily supported by the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF), a student-run fundraising organization whose mission is to help the law school raise money to award summer fellowships to 1L and 2L students who accept unpaid summer public interest internships and to provide bar grants to graduating students entering public interest positions. 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. Students should sign-up for the PILF listserv to learn of volunteer opportunities.

Students who receive funding from the above Duke Law sources must stipulate that they will do the following:

  • Send a personal thank you letter to their identified donor(s) describing their summer work and
  • Participate in programming to discuss summer positions for the following summer. 

Other Duke University Funding

Exclusively for Duke Students: The Stanback Internship Program

The Stanback Internship Program is exclusive to Duke University and provides students with significant and substantive summer work experience in over 50 environmental organizations. The program is administered by the Nicholas School of the Environment. Students earn a $5,000 stipend for 11 weeks of full-time work, which can be prorated for split summers. These internships are great opportunities to develop a wide range of legal skills that are transferable to practice areas in both private and public interest settings. Neither interest in an environmental law career nor prior environmental experience is necessary. Stanback internships may also include science, policy, advocacy and other conservation-related work. Every year, between 6-18 Duke Law students participate. Application deadlines for law students begin Fall Semester and run through the spring. 

 Learn more about the program

Select External Funding Sources Resource Center

Go to “Funding Sources”  and then “Summer Funding” for a list of resources related to funding sources in various locations or regions, including law firm split summer programs and more.  One example of sources located in this resource is the Florida Bar Foundation Legal Service Summer Fellowship Program that awards between $6500 and $8250 for work at non-profit legal service programs throughout the state and includes a lenghty list of non-profits. 

Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps JD

This AmeriCorps-funded program provides a $1222 education award voucher that can be directly applied to qualified educational expenses. Students must complete 300 hours of summer legal work at a nonprofit, public interest organization, within one of the program’s outlined practice areas. Applications are accepted from December to April and awards are made on a rolling basis. 

McMillan Fellowship Program (Charlotte, NC)

The McMillan Fellowship Program offers stipends of up to $3500 for students interested in a public interest career who are working with participating employers in Mecklenburg County. After students apply for and receive a position, the employer and student will then submit a joint application. The McMillian website lists participating employers; applications are generally due in early March.

State Bar of Georgia Internship Program

Law students and recent graduates may apply for up to $5000 for 10 weeks/400 hours of work at a public interest legal organization in Georgia. This program is through the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyer's Division Public Interest Internship Program (PIIP). Applications are usually due in March of each 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 to work with a selected organization. The Equal Justice Works website includes participating locations. Applications are generally due in February.


For the Summer of 2017,
85 students received over $375,000 in Duke funding.


Application Instructions

Applications are now being accepted. Current students can log in to see application instructions and access the application.  Applications are due by noon Thursday, March 29, 2018.


Please contact Stella Boswell, Assistant Dean of Public Interest and Career Development, or Bethan Eynon, Government and Public Interst Career Counselor