Public Interest Funding

Updated August 9, 2017.

Duke Law School proudly offers guaranteed funding for summer internships with public interest or government entities. The 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. The below information is also reflected in our Summer Public Interest Funding guide.

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. 

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.  

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 solicitors general; the 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. Open to 1Ls and 2Ls; full summer (8 weeks for 1Ls and 10 weeks for 2Ls at 40 hours per week) and split summer arrangements are possible. While 2Ls can be awarded these fellowships for summer judicial clerkship positions, 1Ls are not eligible for this funding for a summer clerkship. This is a competitive Fellowship. Successful applicants will have a demonstrated commitment to developing a career in the public interest; other factors that will be considered are involvement in public interest and pro bono activities at Duke Law and prior public interest and volunteer work. The grant amounts for 2Ls are higher than for 1Ls.  Students may seek additional funding from outside the Law School and other Duke University sources (e.g., from employers directly, Equal Justice Works Summer Grants, etc.) up to a total amount of $6500 without a reduction in the Grant amount.

Schwarzman Entertainment Law Fellowships

Students applying for this fellowship must have an eligible position doing legal work for an entertainment organization, broadly defined as including anything in the arts or with sports related entities. The Schwarzman Fellowship is awarded on a competitive basis with a preference for positions with non-profit entities or positions providing pro bono services, however, given availability, funds may be awarded for positions with private sector organizations. The committee will take PILF and pro bono hours into consideration when deciding awards.

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;
  • Participate in programming to discuss summer positions for the following summer;
  • For those who received funding their 1L summer and then work in the private sector their 2L summer: donate two days' pay or half of their 1L grant back to PILF if they make over $20,000 for both summers combined.

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.

Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps JD

This AmeriCorps-funded program provides a $1230 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

Interested in working in Charlotte? The McMillan Fellowship Program offers stipends of up to $3000 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 will then submit an application on behalf of the student. The McMillian website typically lists participating employers; applications are generally due around March 1.

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

Summer 2018 application and instructions coming January 2018.


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

Current Students

Download the Summer Internship Certification of Completion.