YLS Support for Public Interest Careers

YLS Support for Public Interest Careers

YLS matches its philosophical commitment for students working in public interest positions with financial support, job search resources, alumni connection opportunities and other services. YLS provides generous financial support to students pursuing careers in public interest. Because of these funding opportunities, Yale students have freedom to pursue public interest careers with less concern about their financial situations and the ability of a prospective employer to pay.

Financial Support

YLS provides over $1 million in summer fellowships annually to support the summer public interest work of approximately 190 students.

The Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program (SPIF) offers support to all Yale students who need funding to work at government and nonprofit organizations. The law school provides fellowships of up to $8,000 (pro-rated at $666.66 per week for up to 12 weeks). Students who receive outside funding from grants, stipends from their public interest employer, additional jobs, etc., should consult with the Financial Aid Office to determine if the additional income will impact SPIF eligibility. In most cases, part-time work will not impact a SPIF award.

The Schell Center for International Human Rights provides many summer travel fellowships to support summer work abroad in international human rights.


YLS Non-SPIF Funding

Mary A. McCarthy Fellowships in Public Interest Law
Eligibility: Work with public interest offices, including nonprofits and government. Preference for US organizations providing direct services, especially in mediation and the rights of immigrants, prisoners, criminal defendants, and women, but the committee will consider all generally applicable applications.
Stipend: Up to $666 a week for a maximum of 12 weeks ($8,000).


Other Non-SPIF Funding Opportunities

Squire Patton Boggs Policy Fellowship
Eligibility: Work with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and domestic or international organizations working on public policy.
Stipend: $5,000 for 8 weeks full-time work. May be combined with other sources of funding up to a total of $8,000.

Equal Justice America Summer Legal Services Fellowship
Eligibility: Work with US nonprofit organizations providing direct legal services. No defender or government offices.
Stipend: Up to $5,000 for 10 weeks full-time work. May be combined with other sources of funding up to a total of $12,000.

John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship
Eligibility: Work with public interest organizations, including government agencies, legal services, advocacy groups, and policy reform organizations.
Stipend: $8,000 for 8 weeks full-time work.

Federal Communications Bar Association Summer Stipend 

Eligibility: Work with federal, state, or local government offices in the areas of telecommunication, media, and technology law.

Stipend: Up to $7,000. 


Massachusetts Bar Foundation Legal Internship Fellowship

Eligibility: Work with legal aid organizations providing civil legal services to low-income clients in Massachusetts.

Stipend: $8,000 for 10 weeks.


Fran Kendall Summer Fellowship of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles

Eligibility: Work with an organization or individually to develop and implement a project with a tangible outcome in public interest law.

Stipend: Up to $6,000.


ABA John Curtin Justice Fund Summer Legal Internship

Eligibility: Work with a legal services program or bar association to prevent homelessness or assist homeless or indigent clients or their advocates.

Stipend: $3,500 for 8 weeks.


Georgia Bar Association Public Interest Internship 

Eligibility: Work with a nonprofit organization or government agency in Georgia.

Stipend: $5,000 for 10 weeks.



More Opportunities 


PSJD (The Public Service Jobs Directory) offers summer funding resources, pro bono opportunities and more. 

YLS Financial Aid Office offers summer funding opportunities and a variety of outside scholarship opportunities.

Yale Law School endowed programs such as the Liman, Heyman, Bernstein, YLS Public Interest Fellowships, and Robina Fellowships financially empower students to pursue their public service goals after graduation. The YLS Public Interest Fellowship program also supports recent YLS graduates for one year of full-time public interest work. In addition, the Law School funds an internship/clerkship at the International Court of Justice and a fellowship at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, both located at The Hague, Netherlands.

YLS offers significantly more post-graduate public interest fellowships than any other law school in the country, enabling nearly 30 graduates each year to receive funding from YLS to support one year of work in the public interest.

More detailed information on these and other fellowship opportunities....

The Career Options Assistance Program (COAP) is one of the most generous and flexible loan forgiveness programs available at any law school. For newly admitted students, COAP helps pay off all law school students loans within ten years after graduation, and requires no contribution from graduates earning less than $55,000 (and only a moderate contribution thereafter). COAP also covers up to $30,000 of need-based undergraduate student loans, and is available to all YLS graduates.

Through CDO’s TRI PI
The Career Development Office (CDO) offers TRI PI (Travel Reimbursement for Interviews in the Public Interest) which provides funding for upperclass student public interest interview travel and for all students to attend certain public interest career fairs.

Through the Financial Aid Office
Through the Financial Aid Office, students on financial aid can seek a budget revision to secure additional loan money for certain purposes, including for the purchase of a suit, judicial clerkship interview travel, 1L public interest interview travel, certain conference travel, and bar prep expenses among other things. This loan can be awarded if a student has already borrowed the maximum available to them, and will require the student to fill out a Budget Revision/Financial Aid Appeal Form found here.

Through the Office of Student Affairs
OSA offers funding to attend a conference if you are invited to present a paper written during your time at YLS under the supervision of a YLS faculty member up to $1,000.

The Deborah L. Rhode Fund for Public Interest & Pro Bono Services reimburses costs associated with public interest mission trips and similar pro bono projects during the academic year. The Rhode Fund does not support research and it is not intended to provide funds for volunteer internships or externships during the semester. Students must be currently enrolled and in good academic standing to qualify. Some past awards have involved trips to court to watch as part of investigating a potential class action as well as trips to assist with disaster relief, help immigrants on the border seeking asylum, and interview clients in connection with environmental justice claims. 

The Rhode Fund helps to subsidize expenses which are integral to participating in a public service trip or project, such as reasonable transportation and lodging costs, and which are not covered by other sources. The Fund does not provide a per diem grant or cover food. The amount of the award depends upon the amount requested, the number of other applications received, and the amount of money available in the fund at the time of the request. Please note, this is a relatively small fund and there is no guarantee funds will be available for all applications.  Past reimbursements have ranged from $200 to $800. Expenses will generally be reimbursed after receipts are submitted.

If you have any questions, please contact Norma D'Apolito.  To apply, please complete the Rhode Fund Application. Once you have been approved and following your trip, please complete the Rhode Fund Reimbursement.

Other YLS Job Search Resources

Students who receive SPIF funding for summer jobs are required to submit reports describing their work experience; CDO requests that non-SPIF funded public interest students also report. These online summer evaluations are very useful because they provide an insiders’ look at public interest employment and help you assess the work, training, and mission of various public interest organizations. These reports are available in the Career Management System (CMS). CMS has a myriad of resources for students including: Student Employment Evaluations, Judicial Clerkship Comment Surveys, and hundreds of job postings from employers specifically looking for Yale students.

The Courtyard

One of the most important resources for YLS students is the alumni community. The best way to connect with alumni is through The Courtyard, where students can easily connect with alumni, find mentors, and engage with student organizations. It includes an online directory, ways to find alumni geographically and by area of practice, and mentoring tools.


The Public Service Jobs Directory or PSJD is an effective and centralized tool to find information about public interest opportunities. PSJD is made up of a network of more than 200 law schools across the United States and Canada, including YLS and more than 13,000 law-related public interest organizations around the world. Through their online database, PSJD provides a comprehensive clearinghouse of public interest organizations and opportunities for lawyers and law students. As PSJD members, YLS students can perform customized searches for organizations in which they have an interest and for public interest job opportunities, ranging from short-term volunteer and paid internships to post-graduate jobs, fellowships, and pro bono opportunities.

Government Honors & Internship Handbook

CDO has purchased the rights for all students to access this compilation of federal employment opportunities online. Enter the password “YLScareer2015” to get the most current information on government hiring. In addition, NALP produces a Federal Legal Employment Opportunities Guide, which is available for free on PSJD.

Leadership Connect

Yale Law School provides students with a subscription to the Leadership Connect, which contain biographical and contact information for leaders in a variety of government, nonprofit, and private sector arenas. Students using a Yale computer or connected to Yale through a VPN can access Leadership Connect without a password. Simply click on the login box in the upper right corner of the home page. Anyone accessing the site from an outside computer without VPN will be taken to a login screen. In that event, contact CDO at (203) 432-1676 for a username and password.

YLS Student Public Interest Career Fair

CDO organizes an annual Public Interest Student Career Fair each year in October/November, at which dozens of second- and third-year students who have worked in public interest jobs over the summer share their experiences with first-year and other interested students.

YLS Public Interest Interview Program

The Public Interest Interview Program (“PIIP”) is Yale Law School’s recruiting event specific for public sector employers to interview primarily 2Ls, but also 3Ls for summer and permanent positions. This is an exciting recruitment opportunity for students passionate about pursuing a career in the public sector. PIIP is typically conducted throughout a two-week period in mid-September.


The Virtual Interview Program(“VIP”) is Yale Law School’s recruiting event primarily for 2Ls seeking summer employment at larger private law firms, with a few organizations looking to hire 3Ls. Every year a handful of public interest employers participate in VIP, as VIP does allow public interest organizations to register. VIP is typically conducted throughout a 1-week period in early August.

Yale Co-Sponsored Public Interest Legal Career Fair

YLS co-sponsors the Public Interest Legal Career Fair at New York University School of Law providing students the opportunity to interview with employers for internships and permanent jobs, as well as to talk with employers at information tables.ast year, representatives from over 300 employers participated in the Fair, along with over 1,800 law students from the 19 participating law schools listed below. CDO subsidizes student registration fees for this event.

Equal Justice Works Annual Conference and Career Fair

YLS participates as a member-school in the annual Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair in Washington, D.C., which is a gathering of public interest and government employers from across the nation. Approximately 200 employers conduct prescheduled and informational interviews with law students from across the country during this event that usually occurs in October. CDO subsidizes student registration fees for this event and reimburses student travel up to $250.  

NYC Public Interest Career Reception

Yale Law School, in partnership with 19 other law schools, sponsors the Annual Public Interest Career Reception in New York City at the end of the summer. Many public interest organizations attend to provide information, advice, and encouragement to students interested in public interest careers. Although this is not a job fair, it is a great way to network with public interest organizations and law students from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

Yale Law School has many student organizations that bring students interested in public interest law together for a wide range of programs, public service projects, and information exchange.

Many of the student groups are service organizations, which provide traditional legal aid to members of the New Haven community, such as the Temporary Restraining Order Project (TRO), which helps victims of domestic violence obtain court protection from abuse. Other groups provide non-legal services to the community. The Black Law Students Association has volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House (activities included coordinating arts and crafts projects and baking cookies with the house guests) and assisted with food preparation and served meals with Hunger Heroes at a local soup kitchen. The Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project sends law students into local public high schools to teach courses in constitutional law and oral advocacy. The law students also coach their students in a national moot court competition. For descriptions of the public service of our student groups, see the Student Organizations webpage.

YLS has a wide variety of law clinics that allow students a variety of learning experiences while positively impacting individuals and groups in need of help. Clinical students can serve directly with prisoners, immigrants, or low-income individuals, work on international human rights issues, advocate in the Supreme Court, or bring essential class-action lawsuits. Descriptions of these clinics and their recent work are available by going to the YLS Clinics webpage.

Students may work on several semester-long externships while at Yale. For example, they can work with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association (through either the Domestic Violence, Immigrant Rights, or Re-entry Clinics) or with either of two New Haven prosecutors’ offices (the local offices of the State’s Attorney or the U.S. Attorney).

Yale has several public interest journals that cover a variety of issues from human rights to feminism to health policy. Click here for more information.

A valuable networking opportunity is the Robert M. Cover Public Interest Retreat, where law students, law professors, and public interest lawyers gather in New Hampshire during the first weekend in March. They participate in workshops, panels, informal discussions, dinners, and other gatherings to learn from one another. Several slots are available for YLS students each year.

Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law

The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law sponsors workshops, colloquia, programs, and research and advocacy projects for current law students. The Liman Center also provides year-long fellowships for Yale Law School graduates to do public interest work. Visit the Liman Center website for more information.

The Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights

The Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights is a Yale University Program administered by Yale Law School. It was established in 2011 by philanthropists Peter and Patricia Gruber as part of The Gruber Foundation. The Gruber Program at the Law School consists of four core components: l) the Global Constitutionalism Seminar; 2) the Gruber Distinguished Lectures in Global Justice and Women's Rights; 3) the Gruber Global Justice and Women's Rights Fellowships; and 4) the Gruber Project in Global Justice and Women’s Rights. For more information go to the Gruber Program website.

Schell Center for International Human Rights

The Schell Center coordinates a diverse program that enables YLS students to become involved in a range of international human rights activities. The center organizes frequent panels, lectures, and conferences, including a bi-weekly workshop on current human rights issues. It sponsors an annual human rights career panel, advises and supports students pursuing human rights work, and funds students’ summer human rights fellowships and several annual Bernstein and Robina human rights fellowships for recent YLS graduates. For information, go to the Schell Center website.