Public Service and Public Interest Law

Chicago is committed to training lawyers and scholars who are dedicated to the public good as well as to professional excellence. The institutional support that the Law School offers for students and graduates seeking public interest work is multifaceted and includes:

Individual Public Service Counseling and Resource Matching

The counselors of the Office of Career Services—including dedicated public interest law and judicial clerkship advisors—offer critical assistance to students and alumni pursuing work in the public and nonprofit sectors, including government service, post-graduate fellowships, and international placements. OCS counselors meet with students, review resumes and cover letters, develop career plans and job search strategies, counsel on public service resources and alternatives, and help guide career-related decision making. OCS also maintains extensive public service career resources and publications, and a wealth of online material.

Public Service/Public Interest Law Job Opportunities

Over the years, Chicago Law graduates and students have served in post-graduate and summer positions at all levels of federal state and local government, international NGOs and human rights agencies, and domestic think tanks, poverty law agencies, and public interest law nonprofit organizations around the nation. OCS provides password protected information and public service job postings, along with other job opportunities, online through our Symplicity system. OCS also sends relevant job postings to the Public Service ListServ and in the weekly e-mail OCS Bulletin. Through these resources, students are notified of public service recruitment programs throughout the year, including placements with international human rights organizations or with government programs. The Law School also provides free of charge to its students, access to PSJD, a searchable database of thousands of public interest organizations, jobs and internships, fellowships, and funding opportunities.

Guaranteed Summer Public Interest Funding 

The Law School is committed to supporting a range of summer public interest employment opportunities and provides a guaranteed summer funding award of $5,000 to any Chicago law student who chooses to work in a public interest law position during the summer. Students are eligible for this stipend during the summer after their first year, or the summer after their second year, or both. Eligible summer public interest positions include not only work for non-profit legal aid and advocacy organizations and policy groups, but also federal, state and local governmental legal positions, and international human rights organizations and other law-based NGOs.

First-year and second-year students must work in eligible nonprofit or government law positions for at least eight weeks of their summers.  Participants in this program may also earn up to $5,000 per summer from other external (non-Law School) funding sources during the course of their summers. The law student application for public interest stipends opens late in the Spring quarter of each year.   

Networking Contacts and Opportunities

OCS's Symplicity Document Library contains many useful job search resources designed to connect current students with one another and with alumni. These resources include the Who Worked Where list (a list of students' summer employment), connections with a group of alumni willing to discuss public service career options with current students, and the University's Alumni and Friends database of tens of thousands of alumni from across all areas of the University. The Law School also provides funding assistance to students who attend the national Equal Justice Conference and Career Fair, and sponsors and participates in the Midwest Public interest Law Career Conference, along with many public service job fairs and employer receptions throughout the year.

Clinical Programs

The Law School, a pioneer in clinical legal education, is home to an array of highly-regarded transactional and litigation-based legal clinics that ensure the growth of community service and that ensure practical education for students of the Law School. These clinical programs are located in the Law School's Arthur O. Kane Center for Clinical Legal Education, and together, they offer Chicago second and third year students opportunities to learn litigation, legislative advocacy and transactional skills through classroom instruction, simulation and representation of clients under the close supervision of the clinical teachers.

Pro Bono Service Initiative

Pro bono public service is an integral part of a lawyer's professional obligation and an essential ingredient in a legal career. Chicago is proud to offer its students opportunities to develop their legal skills and gain practical experience by participating in the University of Chicago Law School's Pro Bono Service Initiative, through which Chicago law students pledge to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours of law-related service during their time at the Law School. Students who fulfill the pledge will be formally recognized at graduation.

Speakers, Programs, and Panels

Through Faculty, Student Organizations, the Offices of Career Services, and the Dean of Students, the Law School sponsors a variety of public interest law programs throughout the year.  These include skills programming that focuses on developing the skills necessary for successful career development; informational programming featuring speakers sharing their own career stories, challenges, and successes; and substantive law programming that highlights speeches, lectures, workshops and panel presentations on various topic relevant to a public interest law practice. These and other Law School events are an important part of the Chicago community.  

Postgraduate Public Service Financial Support

The University of Chicago supports alumni working in the public interest with Postgraduate Public Interest Law Fellowships, Public Service Initiative (PSI) Fellowships, and the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). Learn more about graduate public interest support.

Public Interest Faculty Mentors

Law School faculty distinguish themselves through their legal scholarship and teaching achievements, but also through their accessibility and willingness to meet and work with public interest-directed students. Faculty members who participate in the Public Interest Faculty Mentor Program provide students with specialized guidance in family law, immigration law, human rights and international law, criminal law, labor law, and in public policy, government and many other practice areas. Faculty Mentors believe that interactions with law students enhance the classroom environment; many bring a breadth of practical experience to their teaching.

Mentors teach courses of special interest to students who may be planning careers in government or public interest, participate in and organize events to increase students' understanding of career possibilities, and engage with students in smaller or informal settings designed to foster conversations about public service career paths, and to provide an expanded network of contacts for students interested in pursuing careers in government and public interest.

View the List of Public Interest Faculty Mentors

A sampling of faculty publications relating to public service law

Daniel Abebe, “The Global Determinants of U.S. Foreign Affairs Law,” 49 Stanford Journal of International Law 1 (2013).

Daniel Abebe and Jonathan Masur, “International Agreements, Internal Heterogeneity, and Climate Change: The 'Two Chinas' Problem,” 50 Virginia Journal of International Law 325 (2010)

Douglas Baird, “Bankruptcy from Olympus,” 77 University of Chicago Law Review 959 (2010)

Douglas Baird, “Antibankruptcy,” 119 Yale Law Journal 648 (2010)

Omri Ben-Shahar, “Fixing Unfair Contracts,” 63 Stanford Law Review 869 (2011)

Omri Ben-Shahar, “Consumer Protection Without Law,” 33 Regulation 1 (2010)

Emily Buss, "Escaping the American Blot? A Comparative Look at Federalism in Australia and the United States through the Lens of Family Law," 48 Cornell Journal of International Law __ (forthcoming 2015)

Emily Buss, The Law and Child Development (Ashgate, 2010)

Emily Buss, “Failing Juvenile Courts, And What Lawyers And Judges Can Do About It,” 6 Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy 318 (2011)

Mary Anne Case, "Legal Protections for the Personal Best of Each Employee: Title VII’s Prohibition on Sex Discrimination, the Legacy of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, and the Prospect of ENDA," 66 Stanford L. Rev 1333 (2014) 

Mary Anne Case, What Feminists Have to Lose in Same-Sex Marriage Litigation  57 UCLA  L. Rev. 1199 (2010) available on SSRN

Mary Anne Case, "Feminist Fundamentalism on the Frontier between Government and Family Responsibility for Children," 2009 Utah L.Rev. 381

Brian Citro, "The Consequences of Failure." in Article 25: Achieving the Human Right to Health.Oxford University Press (Forthcoming 2013). With Anand Grover and Mihir Mankad.

Jane Dailey, The Age of Jim Crow (Norton 2008)

Lee Fennell, The Unbounded Home: Property Values Beyond Property Lines. (Yale University Press 2009)

Craig Futterman, “The Use of Statistical Evidence to Address Police Supervisory and Disciplinary Practices: The Chicago Police Department's Broken System,” 9 Police Misconduct and Civil Rights Law Report (2008)

Tom Ginsburg, “National Courts, Domestic Democracy, and the Evolution of International Law, 20 European Journal of International Law 1021 (2010)

Tom Ginsburg, Comparative Legal Institutions (Aspen 2011)

M. Todd Henderson, “Predicting Crime,” 52 Arizona Law Review 15 (2010)

Mark Heyrman, “Lawyers’ Attitudes Toward Involuntary Treatment,” 34 Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry & Law 492 (2006)

William Hubbard, “The Phantom Gender Difference in the College Wage Premium,” 46 Journal of Human Resources568 (2011)

William Hubbard, “Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women,” 4 Journal of Human Capital 203 (2010)

Aziz Huq, “Structural Constitutionalism as Counterterrorism,” 100 California Law Review (forthcoming 2012)

Aziz Huq, “Forum Choice for Terrorism Suspects,” 61 Duke Law Journal (forthcoming 2012)

Dennis Hutchinson, “Lincoln the 'Dictator’,” 55 South Dakota Law Review 284 (2010)

Alison LaCroix,“The Interbellum Constitution: Federalism in the Long Founding Moment," 67 Stanford Law Review 397 (2015)

Alison LaCroix, "The Shadow Powers of Article I," 123 Yale Law Journal 2044 (2014)

Alison LaCroix, "Redeeming Bond?", 128 Harvard Law Review Forum 31 (2014).

Alison LaCroix, The Ideological Origins of American Federalism (Harvard University Press 2010)

Alison LaCroix, “What If Madison Had Won? Imagining a Constitutional World of Legislative Supremacy,” 45 Indiana Law Review (forthcoming 2012)

Brian Leiter, “Cleaning Cyber-Cesspools: Google and Free Speech,” in The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy, and Reputation, edited by Saul Levmore and Martha Nussbaum (Harvard University Press 2010)

Brian Leiter, “Foundations of Religious Liberty: Toleration or Respect?,” 47 San Diego Law Review 935 (2010)

Jeff Leslie, “Animal Rights without Controversy,” 70 Law and Contemporary Problems 117 (2007)

Jeff Leslie, “Mixed-Income Housing as a Pre-Commitment Strategy,” 2 Harvard Law and Policy Review Online (2007)

Saul Levmore and Martha Nussbaum, eds., The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy and Reputation (Harvard University Press 2010)

Saul Levmore, “Bargaining with Double Jeopardy,” 40 Journal of Legal Studies 273 (2011)

Anup Malani, The Future of Healthcare Reform in the United States (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2014) (edited with Michael H. Schill)

Anup Malani, “The Welfare Effects of FDA Regulation of Drugs,” in The Handbook of Pharmaceutical Economics (2010)

Anup Malani, “Incentives for Reporting Infectious Disease Outbreaks,” 46 Journal of Human Resources 176 (2011)

Jonathan Masur and Eric Posner, “Climate Regulation and the Limits of Cost-Benefit Analysis," 99 California Law Review 1557 (2011)

Jonathan Masur, “Happiness and Punishment,” 76 University of Chicago Law Review 1037 (2009)

Richard McAdams, “Economic Costs of Inequality,” 2010 University of Chicago Legal Forum 23 (2010)

Richard McAdams, “Belief in a Just World, Blaming the Victim, and Hate Crime Statutes,” 5 Review of Law and Economics 311 (2009)

Thomas Miles, “Depoliticizing Administrative Law,” in Ideology, Law, & Psychology, (Oxford University Press 2011)

Thomas Miles, Jonathan Masur and Richard McAdams, “For General Deterrence,” in Criminal Law Conversations(Oxford University Press 2009)

Martha Nussbaum, Political Emotions: Why Love Matters For Justice, Harvard University Press, 2013 

Martha Nussbaum, From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press 2010)

Martha Nussbaum, Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America's Tradition of Religious Equality (2008)

Randal Picker, “Competition and Privacy in Web 2.0 and the Cloud,” 103 Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy1 (2008)

Randal Picker, “Fair Use v. Fair Access,” 31 Columbia Journal of Law and Arts 603 (2008)

Eric Posner and David Weisbach, Climate Change Justice (Princeton University Press 2010).

Eric Posner, The Perils of Global Legalism (University of Chicago Press 2009)

Richard Posner, The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy (Harvard University Press 2010)

Richard Posner, How Judges Think (Harvard University Press 2008)

Julie Roin, “Privatization and Sale of Tax Revenues,” 95 Minnesota Law Review 1965 (2011)

Julie Roin, “The Limits of Textualism: Cooper v. IBM Personal Pension Plan,” 77 University of Chicago Law Review1195 (2010)

Gerald Rosenberg, “Saul Alinsky and the Litigation Campaign To Win the Right to Same-Sex Marriage,” 42 John Marshall Law Review 643 (2009)

Michael Schill, “Enforcing the Fair Housing Act,” in Fragile Rights Within Cities: Government, Housing, and Fairness(Rowman and Littlefield 2007)

Randall Schmidt, “The New Illinois Right-to-Sue Law for Employment Discrimination,” 96 Illinois Bar Journal 30 (2008)

Alison Siegler, "The Courts of Appeals' Latest Anti-Booker Rebellion," 82 University of Chicago Law Review  (forthcoming 2015)

Alison Siegler, "Review of Co-Defendant Sentencing Disparities by the Seventh Circuit: Two Divergent Lines of Cases," Circuit Rider: The Journal of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association 23 (2012)

Alison Siegler, “‘Death Is Different’ No Longer: Graham v. Florida and the Future of Eighth Amendment Challenges to Noncapital Sentences," 2010 Supreme Court Review (2011)

Amy Dru Stanley, Human Rights and the Abolition of Slavery: A Peculiar American History of Personhood, Happiness, and Community (Harvard University Press, Forthcoming)

Nicholas Stephanapoulos, "The Realities of Electoral Reform," 68 Vanderbilt Law Review __ (forthcoming 2015) (with Eric McGhee & Steven Rogers)

Nicholas Stephanopoulos, “Spatial Diversity,” 125 Harvard Law Review 1903 (2012) 

Nicholas Stephanopoulos, “Redistricting and the Territorial Community,”  160 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1379 (2012)

Geoffrey R. Stone, et al., The NSA Report: Liberty and Security in a Changing World (Princeton University Press 2014)

Geoffrey Stone, “WikiLeaks, the Proposed SHIELD Act, and the First Amendment,” 5 Journal of National Security Law and Politics 105 (2011)

Geoffrey Stone, “American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut: ‘The Government Must Leave to the People the Evaluation of Ideas’,” 77 University of Chicago Law Review 1219 (2010)

Lior Strahilivitz, “Reunifying Privacy Law,” 98 California Law Review 2007 (2010)

Lior Strahilivitz, Information and Exclusion. (Yale University Press 2011)

David Strauss, "We the People, They the People, and the Puzzle of Democratic Constitutionalism," 91 Texas Law Review 1969 (2013)

David Strauss, "'Recognizing Race' and the Elusive Ideal of Racial Neutrality," 113 Columbia Law Review Sidebar 1 (2013)

David Strauss, "Commerce Clause Revisionism and the Affordable Care Act," 2012 Supreme Court Review 1 (2013).

David Strauss, The Living Constitution (Oxford University Press 2010)

David Strauss, “Lessons Learned: The Death of Judicial Conservatism,” 4 Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy 1 (2009)

Mark N. Templeton, Lessons from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Regarding the Effectiveness of the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, in Energy Law in the 21st Century: Views from the U.S. and Russia (Gary Allison, ed., 2014) 

Laura Weinrib,The Taming of Free Speech (under contract with Harvard University Press, 2015)

Laura Weinrib, “Civil Liberties Outside the Courts,” Supreme Court Review (forthcoming 2015)

Laura Weinrib, “The Sex Side of Civil Liberties: United States v. Dennett and the Changing Face of Free Speech,” 30 Law and History Review 325 (2012) 

Laura Weinrib, “From Public Interest to Private Rights: Free Speech, Liberal Individualism, and the Making of Modern Tort Law,” 34 Law and Social Inquiry 187 (2009)

David Weisbach, “Toward a New Approach to Disability Law,” 2009 The University of Chicago Legal Forum 47 (2009)

David Weisbach, “Climate Change and Discounting the Future: A Guide for the Perplexed,” 27 Yale Law and Policy Review 433 (2009)

Diane Wood, “Constitutions and Capabilities: A (Necessarily) Pragmatic Approach,” 10 Chicago Journal of International Law 415 (2010)

Diane Wood, “The Winding Road Towards Equality for Women in the United States, Special Lecture 3,” Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata (India) (2008)

Public service curriculum

A sample of specialized courses for students interested in careers in public service:

  • Abrams Environmental Law Clinic
  • American Law and the Rhetoric of Race
  • Civil Rights Clinic: Police Accountability
  • Climate Change
  • Comparative Legal Institutions
  • Complex Mental Health Litigation Clinic
  • Computer Crime
  • Constitutional Decisionmaking
  • Corporate Criminal Prosecutions and Investigations
  • Crime and Politics: A Portrait of the Urban Drug War
  • Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project Clinic
  • Criminal Procedure: The Investigative Process
  • Divorce Law and Process
  • Election Law
  • Employment Discrimination Clinic
  • Employment Discrimination Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Exoneration Project Clinic
  • Fair Housing
  • Family Law Seminar
  • Federal Courts from the Judge’s Perspective
  • Federal Criminal Justice Clinic
  • Federal Criminal Practice
  • Federal Criminal Procedure: From Bail to Jail
  • Federal Habeas Corpus
  • Federal Legislative Power
  • Federal Sentencing: Balancing Judicial and Prosecutorial Discretion
  • Food and Drug Law
  • Foreign Relations Law
  • Gendered Violence and the Law Clinic
  • Health Law
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Higher Education and the Law
  • Historic Preservation Law
  • Housing and Development: Law and Policy
  • Housing Initiative Clinic
  • Immigration Children’s Advocacy Project Clinic
  • Immigration Law
  • Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship
  • Intensive Trial Practice Workshop
  • International Environmental Law
  • Introduction to Islamic Law
  • Labor History and the Law
  • Labor Law
  • Land Use
  • Law and Advances in Medicine
  • Law and Political Thought
  • Religion and the State
  • The Grand Jury: History and Practice
  • The Internet Generation
  • The Law of Counterterrorism: Emerging Problems in Civil Liberties and Human Rights in the New National Security State
  • Trial Advocacy
  • U.S. Courts as Political Institutions
  • U.S. Foreign Policy after the “Arab Spring” and the Death of Bin Laden
  • U.S. Supreme Court: Theory and Practice
  • Work and Gender
  • Workshop: Constitutional Law
  • Workshop: Judicial Behavior
  • Workshop: Public Law and Legal Theory
  • Workshop: Regulation of Family, Sex, and Gender