Summer Public Interest Funding Application

Purpose of the Fellowship Program

The University of Chicago Law School is committed to supporting a range of summer public interest employment opportunities. To meet this commitment, the Heerey Fellowship Program provides one guaranteed award of $6,000 to every 1L student who works in eligible non-profit or government law positions for at least eight full-time weeks of their first-year summer. Second-year students who work in qualifying public interest positions for at least eight full-time weeks are also eligible for a single guaranteed award of $6,000 through the Chicago Law Foundation (“CLF”), or through other donor support. Are you eligible for this funding even if your summer employer also pays you? Yes, you may also earn up to $6,000 in other, external (non-Law School) summer funding. But, those who earn more than $6,000 in external funding will be required to relinquish excess public interest funding at the end of the summer.

To receive summer public interest funding, please fill out the online application. Please submit your funding application webform by May 19th. Online application will be accepted after this date. However, the University is transitioning our financial systems in late June and early July, so any application forms submitted after the May 19th deadline may not be funded until late July at the earliest.

Carefully review the below terms and conditions for accepting summer funding before requesting summer public interest funding. You must check the box on the form acknowledging acceptance of these terms in order to submit your form. 

Student Eligibility

This fellowship program is open only to J.D. students who secure eligible public interest or government summer positions. Eligibility for the fellowship is not dependent upon academic grade averages, but if you fall below half-time enrollment, take a leave of absence, or leave the University, the full amount of the initial award will be immediately due and payable to the Law School.

Eligible Public Interest Positions

An eligible position is one in which the student is:

  • Learning about the practice of law in a legal, policy, legislative, or advocacy setting under legal supervision, and in a position where at least one year of law school is normally required
  • Working for the public interest
  • Working for a non-profit organization or government office
  • Working in a judicial externship/internship position
  • Working on a full-time basis for at least eight weeks of the summer

Please note individuals working at law firms, private corporations, political campaigns, or in positions at a university (including Law School research assistants and clinical positions) are not eligible to participate. Final determinations of eligibility will be made by the Financial Aid Committee of the University of Chicago Law School.

Submission Process

To be considered, all students volunteering in qualified summer public interest positions must submit an online application to the Financial Aid Office. The University will distribute the funds by direct deposit only. We strongly advise that before you submit your summer funding application you make sure you are signed up for direct deposit in Workday, the University's human resources system. The Law School will process forms and provide the fellowship funds in mid-June. 

If you will be working two qualifying positions, you can note this in the form but you are only eligible for up to $6,000 in total Law School funding for the summer. If needed, two qualifying positions can be used to meet the above eligibility criteria (if say, one position is less than 8 weeks in length).

Certification & Verification Processes

Pre-Summer Certification: Participants must certify their summer employment offer by completing the Summer Funding Application.

Post-Summer Verification: Upon completion of their summer position, participants must provide the following documentation after the completion of their summer work. Documentation must be received by by October 1st.

  • An essay (750-1500 words) detailing the summer fellowship and providing a thoughtful summary of the experience.
    • Please Note: Each year, the Office of External Affairs prepares a report for those associated with public interest funds -- donors, family members, and fund representatives -- to provide meaningful information on the impact of their philanthropy. This essay may be shared with the donor(s) of your summer funding grant and you may have the opportunity to meet with your fund donor. Donors will receive your essay exactly as you write them, so we ask that you are engaging and attentive to grammar (complete sentences, check your spelling, etc.)
    • Suggested topics to address in your essay include: 
        1. What you learned from working on your project, on your team, at your site, and from your summer public interest experience
        2. How this public interest support has had an impact on your life and work at the Law School
        3. It is appropriate and highly encouraged to include the words "Thank You"
  • Student Verification Form to be completed by the participating student, providing a post-summer verification and a statement of additional earnings.
  • Host Agency/Organization Certification that must be completed by and emailed directly from the student's supervisor.

Participants who do not provide all of the above documentation by the October 1st deadline must repay the full balance of the award and will be ineligible to participate in any further Law School funding programs, including the Law School's LRAP, postgraduate fellowship program, or any scholarship programs. 

Fund Distribution Process

Provided that the form was submitted in a timely manner, students will receive a direct deposit for the full award amount in mid-June. Students must agree to the requirements of the program and provide all required documentation to maintain funding. It is important to note that international students from non-treaty nations may be subject to tax withholdings and a delay in receiving funds. U.S. citizens and Resident Aliens will not be subject to withholdings though may need to declare the income when filing their taxes. For more information, please check with your tax professional.

Employment Relationship Disclaimer

Acceptance of summer funding does not create an employment relationship with the University of Chicago and eligible participants must understand and acknowledge that participation in the summer funding program does not make them eligible for any University employee status, compensation or benefit (including, but not limited to, coverage under the workers' compensation and unemployment compensation laws).