Susan Curry Discusses Chicago's Expanded Public Interest Program

Chicago Expands Its Public Service Offerings
Susan J. Curry
EquippingOurLawyers.org
February 25, 2011

If you are like me, when you think of The University of Chicago Law School, you envision a learning environment characterized by intense intellectual and academic engagement. That intensity is what makes Chicago unique among the nation’s law schools and it’s often used as a descriptor for both our faculty and our students. But the “intense” label may be as far as we can go in ascribing a single trait to the institution, because the Law School is also home to an unusual diversity of political views.  

This very diversity offers Chicago students a unique training ground for pursuing careers and activities that touch on issues of public concern. Now – in this environment that so reveres the life of the mind, the conviction that ideas matter, and the importance of debate and exposure to contrasting views – Chicago is renewing and expanding its emphasis on public service.  When he appointed me last summer to direct Chicago’s public interest programming efforts, Dean Michael Schill resolved to grow our public interest curriculum, career guidance, financial support, clinical, and pro bono opportunities.

Of course the Law School already had in place many of the components of a successful public interest program, such as high quality clinical and other curricular offerings, student and alumni career counseling, and summer and post-graduate financial assistance. I am charged with building upon and expanding these existing elements, as well as planning, developing, and implementing programs, courses, counseling, and job search strategies for students and alumni who are interested in pursuing public interest activities and careers.