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What are Firm Sponsored Split Public Interest Summers?

Many law firms have instituted programs that enable law students to work part of the summer with the firm and part of the summer with a public interest organization, with the firm paying the students’ salaries for the entire summer. These programs gain the attention of students because they provide an opportunity for a diverse and fascinating summer experience and demonstrate the firm’s strong commitment to pro bono work.

Many variations of the sponsored-split summer exist. Typically, the firm offers a law student the opportunity to work for the first half of the summer at the firm, and the second half at a public interest organization of the student’s choice, with the firm continuing full summer associate pay throughout the summer. Some firms have decided to fund a shorter term at the public interest organization. Other firms place restrictions on the year of the student, the public interest organization chosen, the geographical location of the firm’s office or the public service organization, or the number of students they will consider sponsoring.

Why do firms offer these options?

Our sense is that most of these firms have sponsored split public interest summers for several reasons:

• First and foremost, they wish to make a pro bono contribution and allow a summer associate to experience this rewarding and educational aspect of the practice of law.
• Second, the split public interest option serves as a tangible demonstration of the firm’s commitment to associate involvement in pro bono work.
• Finally, it is a means of reaching students with more information that distinguishes the firm.

Due to the high student interest in these programs, they are well advertised within the Career Development Office, our educational programs on choosing firms and pro bono work, and our Fall Interview Program.

Is this just a Yale program?

No. Yale Law School Career Development Office has taken a coordination role regarding firm sponsored splits but the information is disseminated to all law school career development offices.

How do I start such a program?

Beginning a sponsored split program is as easy as calling and telling us to get the word out or requesting our assistance in designing a program.

We suggest a sponsored split be structured as half of the summer at the firm and half at a public interest organization, with the firm providing full pay for the entire summer, and the student retaining discretion on the public interest organization at which they will work. If your firm is placing any limitations on the split, such as the location or type of the public interest organization, it is important to have decided that in advance so it can be properly advertised. You must also decide how many public interest splits your firm is prepared to sponsor.

What is the hiring process for the splits?

The best hiring process is for firms to interview students who are interested in the split along with all other candidates. Students may, or may not, mention their desire for the sponsored split at the initial interviews. At the time an offer is made, students should make clear their request for sponsored split consideration. The firm may then offer them the sponsored split, or continue to extend only the regular summer offer. If the firm needs a few weeks to decide who will be offered a sponsored split, students should be allowed to defer their acceptance/rejection until that time.

We recommend this combined hiring procedure because students who are very interested in your firm are concerned that if they pursue a separate track for the sponsored split opportunity it may hurt their chances of receiving an offer. In addition, students who are strongly interested in the split need that information prior to accepting a summer position with your firm.

Which firms are offering them now?

Currently 14 leading law firms in Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Hartford, Houston, Huntsville, Irvine, Jackson, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Montgomery, Nashville, New Haven, New York, Orange County, Palo Alto, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Princeton, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington DC, Beijing, Brussels, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Milan, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo offer sponsored splits, and the list continues to grow.

Check the Firms Sponsoring Split Public Interest Summers brochure for a complete list of firms.

Whom do I call?

If you would like to discuss Firm Sponsored Split Public Interest Summers, please call Kelly Voight, Assistant Dean, Yale Law School Career Development Office at (203) 432-1676.

-Updated July 2014