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Funding your Legal Career

Although many public interest employers welcome law student involvement, many cannot afford to pay a law clerk and will expect you to “bring your own funding.”  There are several funding options to explore, including:


  • Federal Work-Study – Provides partial funding for eligible government and non-profit legal employers to hire paid law clerks.  To receive Federal Work-study funding, students must qualify financially, and the employers must be awarded a contract.
  • PILP Awards – Funds students to perform summer work at public interest organizations.  PILP organizes an annual auction to raise funds and grants 15-20 summer awards.  The application deadline is usually in March.
  • Lezak Legacy Fellowship Program – Funds four to five students to work in public interest law positions for the summer. The Fellowship seeks students with a history of working for social justice, or who plan to work for social justice. The Fellows Program also provides assigned mentors for each Fellow. 
  • Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps JD – Awards $1,000+ education awards for students working in specific public interest priority areas during the summer or school-year.  Award can be in addition to other sources of funding like work study or stipend.  Applications are due in April or May. 
  • – PSJD maintains two lists of summer funding sources across the country, one location based and one universal.  Look for the PSJD’s Resources Renter.
  • Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) – Provides summer funding for law students working at Chicago public interest organizations.
  • Peggy Browning Fund – Provides summer funding for students interested in workers’ rights issues.  (Lewis & Clark is a member school).
  • Externships – Provides school credit for full-time work unlocking summer financial aid.  Available to students the summer after their 1L or 2L year or during their 2L and 3L year.

Many stipends and fellowships are not awarded until late spring, but some have fall or early spring deadlines.  Check early (and often) to make sure you do not miss a good opportunity!


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