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Public Interest Programs and Resources
Yale Law School’s Career Development Office (CDO) provides an array of public interest services to students and alumni.
- Leading public interest attorneys from across the country, many of them Yale Law School (YLS) graduates, are regularly invited to give talks on careers in their areas of practice and on how they achieved their career successes.
- Through the Mentors-in-Residence Program, YLS graduates and other law school visitors who have been successful in public interest careers, spend time on campus providing individual counseling sessions to students in their areas of expertise.
- The attorney counselors at CDO offer a number of informational presentations on public interest topics ranging from searching for summer public interest jobs to fellowships.
- CDO attorney counselors, who specialize in public interest careers and fellowship opportunities, are available to individually advise and counsel students and graduates.
- CDO organizes an annual Public Interest Student Career Fair, where second and third year students who have worked in public interest jobs over the summer share their experiences with interested students.
- CDO conducts two interview programs (FIP & SIP) each year, where many public interest and government employers register to recruit Yale students.
- YLS sponsors student attendance at the Equal Justice Works Career Fair and Conference (EJW), and the NYU Public Interest Legal Career Fair, where students can interview with a wide range of public interest employers.
- YLS subsidizes students’ public interest job searches through travel subsidies to the EJW and NYU Career Fairs.
- Membership in PSJD allows YLS students and alumni to access a database of public interest organizations and opportunities nationwide.
- CDO has also created TRI PI (Travel Reimbursement Interviews for Public Interest) which reimburses 2Ls, 3Ls and LLMs for travel expenses, up to $800 each academic year, for travel to public interest fellowship and job interviews.
- YLS Career Connections offers Yale law students and graduates the opportunity to network with graduates who have offered to provide career-related advice. Career Connection members can be searched by name, area of expertise, employer type, geographic location, and more.
- CDO maintains a web-based database of job listings, including public interest jobs listings, for summer, entry level, and graduate opportunities.
- CDO distributes a weekly Public Interest Newsletter (PIN) to inform students about public interest events, employment, fellowships, and other news.
- The CDO library of public interest resources includes printed materials such as directories, inspirational books, and how-to guides as well as a collection of online video recordings of past presentations and webinars on government and public interest law careers.
- CDO produces a number of online public interest guides, including: Criminal Defense, Criminal Prosecution, Environmental Law, International Public Interest Law, Public Interest Careers, Public Interest Fellowships, and Working on Capitol Hill
- CDO also maintains public interest advice webpages, like this one on Public Interest Resources and Programs, including one on security clearances for government jobs.
- Yale Law CDO is a leader in recognizing the importance of public interest post-graduate fellowships as an entry into public interest careers, and in providing information and guidance on applying for these positions. Each year, several YLS students and graduates obtain prestigious awards such as the Skadden Fellowship, Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Soros Justice Fellowship, Presidential Management Fellowship, and various ACLU fellowships.
Public Interest Centers and Programs
The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law sponsors the following events: An annual Public Interest Law Colloquium, which brings together advocates and scholars from across the country for two days of discussion on an important public interest topic; a Public Interest Workshop, which meets weekly during the spring semester to discuss emerging issues; and the Liman Project, which provides an opportunity for YLS students to work with faculty on research and advocacy related to detention and access to justice. In addition, each year the Liman Program awards a number of fellowships for graduates to work on public interest projects.
The Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights coordinates a diverse program of human rights activities that includes: frequent talks by guest speakers, a weekly Human Rights Workshop, and the yearly Bernstein International Human Right Symposium, bringing human rights experts from all over the country together to discuss current topics; academic and clinical courses, giving students firsthand experience in human rights advocacy; the Lowenstein Project, facilitating small teams of students working on specific human rights issues with human rights NGOs; and both summer and post-graduate human rights fellowships.
The core components of the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights include: Gruber Distinguished Lectures, featuring speakers who have served the causes of global justice; Yale’s Global Constitutionalism Seminar, convening a group of Supreme and Constitutional Court judges from around the world; the Gruber Project, supporting four experiential learning initiatives, specifically the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), Global Health Justice Partnership, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), and Family Violence Clinical Project; and fellowships for recent graduates to work on global justice or women’s right projects.
Yale Law School has many student organizations that demonstrate the wide range of student interest in and commitment to public interest. Many student groups provide traditional pro bono legal assistance to members of underrepresented communities in projects like: the Capital Assistance Project which matches YLS students with public defenders from around the country to provide research support for capital defense work; the Temporary Restraining Order Project, which helps victims of domestic violence obtain court protection from abuse; and the Yale Health Law and Policy Society, which staffs several medical-legal partnerships in New Haven providing needed civil legal assistance to clinic patients. In addition, some student projects provide non-legal community services, such as: the Green Haven Prison Project,which meets with a group of prisoners to discuss current issues; the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, through which law students teach constitutional law and oral advocacy in public high schools; the Petey Greene Program, which pairs student teams with pro bono attorneys to work as GED tutors in correctional facilities; the Project for Law and Education at Yale, which brings together law students interested in education law and policy with teachers, policymakers, lawyers, and researchers; and the Yale Civil Rights Project,which is a support organization for students pursuing independent projects related to civil rights.
Other student organizations at Yale that engage in and encourage public interest include: Alliance for Diversity; American Constitution Society; Asian Pacific American Law Students’ Association; Catholic Law Students Association; First Generation Professionals; Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale; The International Community at YLS; J Reuben Clark Law Society; Latino/a Law Students Association; Mental Health Alliance; Middle Eastern and North African Law Students’ Association; Muslim Law Students’ Association; National Lawyers Guild; Native American Law Students Association; Outlaws; Rebellious Lawyering Conference; Society of Committed and/or Older, Wiser Law Students; South Asian Law Students Association; ThinkDifferent; Yale Animal Law Society; Yale Environmental Law Association; Yale Federalist Society; Yale Food Law Society; Yale Jewish Law Students Association; Yale Law Christian Fellowship; Yale Law Democrats; Yale Law National Security Group; Yale Law Republicans; Yale Law Students for Life; Yale Law Students for Reproductive Justice; Yale Law Veterans’ Association; Yale Law Women; Yale Political Law Society; and Yale Society of International Law.
Click here for descriptions of these groups’ public interest activities.
The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (LSO) links law students with low-income individuals and groups in need of legal help. LSO’s clinics are: Advocacy for Children and Youth Clinic, Center for Community & Economic Development, Challenging Mass Incarceration Clinic, Criminal Justice Clinic, Educational Opportunity and Juvenile Justice Clinic, Housing Clinic, Immigration Legal Services, Legislative Advocacy Clinic, Transnational Development Clinic, Veterans Legal Services Clinic, and Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic.
Additional clinical and experiential learning programs within Yale Law School include: Appellate Litigation Project, Capital Punishment Clinic, Education Adequacy Project Clinic, Environmental Justice Clinic, Environmental Protection Clinic, Ethics Bureau, Global Health and Justice Practicum, International Human Rights Law Clinic, International Refugee Legal Assistance, Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, New Haven Legal Assistance Clinic, San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project, Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic.
Descriptions of the recent work of these clinics are available by going to www.law.yale.edu, then selecting Studying Law at Yale and Clinical & Experiential Learning.
Through LSO, students may work for a semester with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association (through either the Domestic Violence, Immigrant Rights, or Re-entry Clinics). Or they may take a semester long externship with either of two New Haven prosecutors’ offices, the local offices of the State’s Attorney or the U.S. Attorney. Click here for information on either the Legal Assistance Clinics or the prosecution externships.
Summer Job Funding
Last year, approximately 85% of first-year students and 30% of second-year students seeking summer work decided to take positions with a government or public interest organization. Yale Law School’s Summer Public Interest Fellowships (SPIF) provides funding for all eligible Yale law students who choose to work in a government or public interest organization that is unable to pay their salary for the summer. In 2016, this program provided 189 YLS students with over $1.1 million to fund their summer public interest work. In addition, the Financial Aid Office also provides eligible students with a loan of up to $500 for interview clothing.
For information on funding see the Financial Aid section of the law school website.
The Mary A. McCarthy Memorial Fund and Howard M. Holtzmann Endowment for International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution provide summer funds for students. These programs have provided funding primarily to students who are not eligible for SPIF (e.g. third-years) or for special project needs that would not be covered by SPIF. Contact Norma D’Apolito, CDO Public Interest Director for information about the McCarthy Fund. Information about the Holtzmann Endowment can be obtained from Mindy Roseman, Director of International Programs.
The Schell Center’s Kirby Simon Fellowship provides travel grants to students conducting international human rights work. For information on this fellowship, see the Schell Center website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowships provide one year of funding for YLS graduates to pursue public interest projects in a wide range of areas, including welfare rights, homelessness, indigent criminal defense, and juvenile justice. Students are encouraged to speak with Anna VanCleave, Director of the Liman Program.
The Gruber Fellowships in Global Justice and Women's Rights support Yale graduate school and professional schools graduates spending a year working on issues relevant to global justice and/or women's rights. For information about this fellowship, contact Mindy Roseman, Director of International Programs.
The Heyman Federal Public Service Fellowship Program supports recent YLS graduates who wish to work closely with high-level leaders in the federal government for one year, either through an existing position or through a “special assistantship.” To find out more information about this fellowship, and the McCarthy Fellowship below, contact Norma D'Apolito, CDO Public Interest Director.
The Mary A. McCarthy Fellowships in Public Interest Law also support recent graduates interested in working on a short-term public interest project, especially in mediation and the rights of immigrants, prisoners, criminal defendants, and women’s rights.
The Robert L. Bernstein Fellowships are awarded annually to YLS graduates devoting one year to human rights work. The fellowship is administered by the Schell Center. For information on this fellowship and the Robina Fellowships below, contact Hope Metcalf, Executive Director of the Schell Center for International Human Rights.
The Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowships support graduates working in international organizations concerned with human rights, international criminal tribunals, international judicial clerkships responsible for human rights issues, or graduates working on independent human rights research.
The Yale Law Journal (YLJ) Fellowships seek to enhance the connections of legal scholarship, practice, and service. Fellows work with host organizations for a year on their own public interest projects and then publish reflections on their experiences in the Journal’s online component, the Forum. For more information on this fellowship and the Yale Public Interest Fellowships below, contact Norma D'Apolito, CDO Public Interest Director.
Yale Public Interest Fellowships (YPIF) provide support for YLS graduates to work for a year with a public interest organization on approved projects designed by the graduates.
For more information on the above fellowships, see the YLS Public Interest Fellowships website.
Loan Repayment Assistance
The Career Options Assistance Program (COAP) provides grants to graduates earning a modest income to cover school loans, thus eliminating a major obstacle to graduates undertaking public interest careers. COAP provides full loan repayment to any and all graduates who earn less than $50,000 a year (more with deductions) and partial repayment for those with higher salaries. COAP has provided over $54 million in funds to more than 1500 YLS graduates since the program’s inception in 1989. In 2016 alone, COAP disbursed $5.2 million in loan forgiveness to 452 YLS graduates. Click here for information on this and other Financial Aid programs.
Yale has several journals that address the public interest. These are the Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal, the Yale Journal of International Law, the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law & Ethics, and the Yale Law & Policy Review.
-Updated September 2017