Financial Support for Public Interest

Support for Public Interest Law

The YLS community's commitment to public interest is expressed in its generous financial support both during the school year, the summers and following graduation. Ten years after graduating, 44% of graduates have held jobs in public interest.

Summer Fellowships

Mary A. McCarthy Fellowships in Public Interest Law
Supports public interest law projects, especially in mediation and the rights of immigrants, prisoners, criminal defendants, and women. Work products have ranged from legal briefs and evidence gathered in support of litigation to articles in national journals, informational pamphlets, and videos.

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 $7,500 over the summer ($625 per week for up to 12 weeks) through SPIF. Students may also receive outside funding from grants, stipends from their public interest employer, additional jobs, etc., and SPIF grants will be adjusted so that the total earnings for the summer does not exceed the $7,500 maximum.

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

PSJD has a variety of resources on how to finance a public interest career and how to fund public interest summer work.  

The YLS Financial Aid Office has compiled a list of excellent outside scholarships, including home country/state scholarships, diversity scholarships, summer scholarships, general scholarships and more. 

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.

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 $50,000 (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.

The Career Development Office (CDO) has created TRI PI (Travel Reimbursement for Interviews in the Public Interest) which reimburses 2L, 3L and LLM students for travel expenses — up to $800 per academic year — for public interest interviews.

Career Fairs
In addition to offering funding for specific employment interviewing opportunities through TRI PI, YLS CDO offers funding to offset registration fees and reasonable travel expenses for various Public Interest career fairs. Students attending the annual Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair are eligible for up to $250 reimbursement for travel and lodging expenses. For students attending the Yale Co-Sponsored Public Interest Career Fair at New York University School of Law, funding of up to $47 is available to cover the maximum rate of roundtrip Metro North train fair to New York City. CDO will also reimburse for mileage and parking, up to the same amount as train fair. From time to time students may encounter other external career fair opportunities of interest. In these instances, students may request CDO to determine the eligibility of reimbursement for travel to such career fairs. Students are encouraged to come to CDO to discuss potential travel plans for external career fairs and, if approved, students may be eligible for up to $250 reimbursement in travel and lodging expenses. Please note that this exception is for career fairs in furtherance of Public Interest legal employment and is generally not available for exclusively academic informational conferences. If approved, these expenses will be considered separately from the $800 TRI PI funding amount.

YLS Loan Policy for Suit Purchase
If a student is on financial aid (loans and/or grants) and does not have appropriate clothing for interviews, the student may request a one-time loan of $500 to purchase a suit. If the student enters COAP after graduation, this loan will be covered. Students should contact the Financial Aid office before they purchase the suit, and should submit the receipt to the Financial Aid office within 10 days.

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.