Clerkships and Summer Funding

Since public interest organizations and some government offices are often running on shoestring budgets, summer fellowships are a common way to fund your public interest clerkship.  Summer fellowships come in different forms.  Some fellowships are paid positions with a particular organization, some are positions that come with a stipend from another source and some fellowships are simply stipends for which you apply after you secure a qualifying summer position (also called a clerkship).  These clerkships are often contingent on funding (i.e., you are not committed to the position if you fail to get funded).  Many summer fellowships have application deadlines falling between January and March.

How do I get a public interest clerkship before I apply for fellowship funding?

Many times, public interest summer clerkships are offered to students contingent on funding, i.e., you are not committed to work at the agency or organization unless you obtain a summer fellowship so you can get paid.  

Where do I find summer fellowships that already have funding?

  • Opportunities will are often posted on in Symplicity. You can also find them on the websites of your favorite public interest organizations.
  • The Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF) sponsors approximately 20 summer fellowships with Minnesota legal aid, nonprofit and public defender offices each year.  You can learn about the potential employers by attending the Quad Schools Public Interest Expo (the QPIE) in mid-November, going to the Minnesota Justice Foundation website, or by meeting with the UST Law MJF Staff Attorney. Set up an appointment by sending an email to stthomas@mnjustice.org.
  • There are opportunities to work for nonprofit organizations with funded fellowships in the Midwest and across the nation listed on www.psjd.org
  • CPD also has a copy of the most recent edition of the Comprehensive Fellowship Guide. This resource includes information on Project-Based Fellowships, Organization-Based Fellowships, Research/Academic Fellowships, as well as Fellowship Funding Sources. 

I have a public interest clerkship, how do I get summer fellowship funding?

  • The University of St. Thomas Student Chapter of the Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF) and University of St. Thomas School of Law Alumni Association have joined together to raise funds to subsidize the UST-MJF Public Interest Law Fellowship. Information regarding the fellowship will be available in Symplicity each spring. 
  • The list of fellowships listed at www.psjd.org includes Fellowship Funding Sources. These are fellowships for funding qualifying unpaid public interest work. 
  • Equal Justice Works also provides a $1000 stipend to roughly 300 law students each summer that are working for public interest organizations.
  • Check out the Comprehensive Fellowship Guide in the CPD Office for a list of Fellowship Funding Sources. 
  • Many unpaid public interest clerkships are eligible for the Public Interest Externship. The Public Interest Externship will not fund your clerkship, but you will be able to relieve credit for your clerkship.