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?
- CPD highlights summer fellowships in the bi-weekly Public Interest Press, opportunities will occasionally be posted on CPD’s Career Center and you can also find them on the websites of your favorite public interest organizations.
- The Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF) sponsors approximately 20 summer fellowships (called MJF clerkships) at 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 making an appointment with MJF Staff Attorney, Megan Volk.
- There are opportunities to work for nonprofit organizations with funded fellowships in the Midwest and across the nation listed on www.pslawnet.org. You can find a list by clicking on “community resources” on the home page and then “summer funding” or by logging in and searching for “fellowship-summer.” A hard copy of the list is also available in the CPD Office.
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 a few such clerkships each year. The description and application are available on Symplicity. Search under Job Postings for "UST-MJF Public Interest Law Fellowship."
- The list of fellowships listed on www.pslawnet.org includes a few summer funding sources that apply to qualifying public interest work (for example, work that affects poverty and homelessness or civil rights) at nonspecific organizations. Your clerkship may qualify! You can find the list by clicking on “career central” on the home page and then “financing a career or summer job” and then "summer funding resources" or by logging in and searching for “fellowship-summer.”
- Equal Justice Works also provides a $1000 stipend to roughly 300 law students each summer that are working for public interest organizations.