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Public Interest Programs and Resources

Career Services

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.

• CDO attorney counselors, who specialize in public interest careers and fellowship opportunities, are available to 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 each year, where many public interest and government employers register to recruit Yale students.

• CDO coordinates a public interest retreat for students and faculty to allow for informal conversations around public interest topics.

• YLS sponsors student attendance at the Equal Justice Works Career Fair and Conference (EJW), and the NYU Public Interest 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, as well as necessary telephone and fax reimbursements.

• Membership in PSJD (formerly PSLawnet) 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 and 3Ls for travel expenses, up to $800, 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. The Career Connections’ 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.

• The CDO library of public interest resources includes directories, inspirational books and how-to guides.

• CDO produces a number of public interest guides, including: Public Interest Fellowships, International Public Interest Law, Environmental Law, Public Interest Careers, Criminal Defense, Criminal Prosecution, and Working on Capitol Hill.

• Yale 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 such prestigious fellowships as Skadden, Equal Justice Works, Soros Justice Fellowships, Georgetown’s Prettyman Fellowship in Criminal Justice and International Women’s Human Rights Fellowship and the various fellowships through the ACLU.

Centers and Programs

The Liman Program sponsors an annual public interest colloquium and involves students in pro bono and public interest work with the Liman fellows.

The Schell Center coordinates a diverse program of human rights activities that serve students and scholars at Yale and contributes to the growth and development of the human rights community locally and internationally. The Center sponsors talks, panels and symposia; offers academic and clinical courses on international human rights; and provides summer human rights fellowships.

The Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights promotes dialogue and initiatives in the fields of global justice and women’s rights. Core components include: the Gruber Distinguished Lectures in Global Justice and Women’s Rights; post-graduate fellowships enabling recent graduates to spend a year working with a host organization on a global justice or women’s rights project of their own design; and Yale’s Global Constitutionalism Seminar, which annually convenes a group of Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges from around the world together with YLS faculty to discuss the most important legal issues of the day.

Pro Bono Network

The Pro Bono Network (PBN) is a student organization facilitated by CDO that matches students with pro bono projects during the Spring semester. PBN typically pairs over 30 students with 30-40 projects from a wide variety of public interest organizations. PBN can be reached at cdo.law@yale.edu.

Student Organizations

Yale Law School has many student organizations that demonstrate the wide range of interests and the commitment to public interest among students. Many student groups provide traditional legal aid to members of the New Haven community, such as the Temporary Restraining Order Project, which helps victims of domestic violence obtain court protection from abuse. Others provide less traditional legal services such as the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project which sends law students into public high schools to teach courses in constitutional law and oral advocacy. The Yale Health Law and Policy Society created and staffs several medical-legal partnerships in New Haven providing needed civil legal assistance to clinic patients.

In addition, some student groups provide non-legal community services. For instance, several members of the Latino/a Law Students Association regularly volunteer at a local soup kitchen, and the Yale Law Christian Fellowship organization hosts an annual toy drive for local children who have incarcerated parents.

Other student organizations at Yale performing public interest include: Africa Law and Policy Association; American Constitution Society; Animal Defense Fund; Asian Pacific American Law Students Association; Black Law Students Association; Capital Assistance Project; Catholic Law Students’ Association; Federalist Society; Green Haven Prison Project; Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale; Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project; Jewish Law Students Association; Lowenstein Human Rights Project; Muslim Law Students’ Association; Pro Bono Network; Project for Law and Education; Rebellious Lawyering Conference; San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project; SPIF–Student Contribution; South Asian Law Students’ Association; TRO Project; Women of Color Collective; Yale Environmental Law Association; Yale Health Law and Policy Society; Yale Law Republicans; Yale Law School Democrats; Yale Law Students for Life; Yale Law Veterans Association; and Yale Law Women.

For descriptions of these groups’ public interest activities, go to the law school’s public interest website, accessible at www.law.yale.edu/academics/publicinterestactivities.htm.

Clinical Programs

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, Educational Opportunity and Juvenile Justice, Immigration Legal Services, Criminal Justice, Landlord-Tenant, Legislative Advocacy, Community & Economic Development, Mortgage Foreclosure Litigation, Transnational Development, Veterans Legal Services and Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy.

Additional clinical programs within Yale Law School include: International Human Rights Law, Capital Punishment, Education Adequacy Project, Environmental Protection, Ethics Bureau, Global Health Justice Partnership, Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, Media Freedom and Information Access, Non-Profit Organization, San Francisco Affirmative Litigation, Technology Law and Policy, Supreme Court.

Descriptions of the recent work of these clinics are available by going to to www.law.yale.edu, then selecting Academics and Clinics & Experiential Learning.


Through the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization students may work for a semester at the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, or take a semester long externship with either of two local prosecutor’s offices: the New Haven State’s Attorney, or the U.S. Attorney. For information on the New Haven Legal Assistance externship contact Francis Dineen at (203) 432-7803. For information on prosecution externships contact Jay Pottenger at (203) 432-4821.

Summer Job Funding

Last year, approximately 85% of first-year students and 26% of second-years seeking summer work decided to take positions with a government or public interest entity. Yale Law School’s Summer Public Interest Fellowships (SPIF) provide 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 2015, this program provided 160 YLS students with approximately $800,386 to fund their summer public interest work. In addition, the Financial Aid Office will provide eligible students with a loan of up to $350 for interview clothing.

For information on funding see the Financial Aid section of the law school website at www.law.yale.edu.

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 The Office of Student Affairs at law.studentaffairs@yale.edu for information about the McCarthy Fund. Information about the Holtzmann can be obtained from Sara Lulo, Director of International Programs at sara.lulo@yale.edu.

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 at www.law.yale.edu/schell or contact schell.law@yale.edu.

Post-Graduate Fellowships

The Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowship and Fund provides one year of funding for a public interest project by YLS graduates. Students contemplating applying for a Liman Fellowship are encouraged to speak with Johanna Kalb (johanna.kalb@yale.edu) Director of the Liman Program, or with Hope Metcalf (hope.metcalf@yale.edu) (former Liman Director and new Executive Director for the Schell Center). For other Liman Fellowship queries consult www.law.yale.edu/liman.

Robert L. Bernstein Fellowships are awarded annually to two to three YLS graduates devoting one year to full-time human rights work. The fellowship is administered by the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at the Law School. For information on this fellowship, contact schell.law@yale.edu.

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, contact cdo.law@yale.edu.

The Gruber Fellowships in Global Justice and the Gruber Fellowships in Women's Rights help foster international understanding and dialogue in the fields of global justice and women's rights. These post-graduate fellowships allow recent graduates of Yale graduate and professional schools to spend a year working on issues of relevance to the fields of global justice and/or women's rights. For information about this fellowship, contact Sara Lulo, Director of International Programs, at sara.lulo@yale.edu.

For other Yale fellowship information see the CDO website at www.law.yale.edu/studentlife/cdostudentsylspublicinterestfellowships.htm.

Loan Repayment Assistance

The Career Options Assistance Program (COAP) provides grants to graduates earning a modest income to cover school loans, thus eliminating the 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 nearly $49 million in funds to YLS graduates since 1989. In 2014 alone, COAP disbursed more than $4.3 million in loan forgiveness to over 435 YLS graduates. For information on COAP see the Financial Aid section of the Yale Law School website at www.law.yale.edu.

Law Journals

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 August 2015