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Yale Law School

Yale Law School
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520

This is the record for School: Yale University: Yale Law School ID Number: 133

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Norma D’Apolito
Public Interest Director
Yale Law School
Career Development Office
(203) 436-2580

Category Type

Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by Administrative Support for In-house and Collaborative Group Projects

Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by Administrative Support for In-house and Collaborative Group Projects

Description of Programs

The Pro Bono Network is a student organization at Yale Law School that matches all types of domestic public interest organizations in need of pro bono assistance with Yale law students who want to work on important issues and build legal experience

Location of Programs


The Public Interest Advisor and the Assistant Director of Administration in the Career Development Office provide oversight of the Pro Bono Network. The Student Public Interest Director provides administrative support to the Network and liaises with employers and student groups. The Public Interest Advisor provides counseling to YLS students interested in public interest opportunities—including public interest fellowships.


The Law School funds the pro bono program and provides office space, computers, and student organization funding to the student groups that do pro bono work. Faculty members who are engaged in pro bono work that overlaps with their faculty activities may use the resources of the Law School to support their efforts.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Groups Providing Direct Pro Bono Assistance

  • The Lowenstein Human Rights Project enables students to get direct experience in human rights legal work beginning in their first. A student-run organization, the Lowenstein Project matches volunteers with attorneys at non-profit organizations engaged in international human rights. Students are assigned a project from a wide range of opportunities—including assisting with pending litigation, doing policy-related research, and drafting training material—and work in teams under the supervision of the attorney. Students hone their legal skills while making a direct contribution to human rights work internationally. More information can be found here
  • The Capital Assistance Project (CAP) matches YLS students with public defenders from around the country to provide research support for capital defense work. CAP also raises public awareness about death penalty and indigent defense related issues. More information can be found here.
  • International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) organizes law students and attorneys to provide legal representation to those who have none. They help refugees navigate the rules and processes of resettlement in the US. Their work helps families escape from harm and persecution. IRAP was started by graduate students at Yale Law School in 2008 to provide legal representation and policy advocacy on behalf of refugees seeking resettlement, and to assist those who have resettled. Twenty nine other law schools and over five hundred volunteers including students, lawyers and advocates have joined the effort to deal with this humanitarian crisis. More information can be found here.
  • The Temporary Restraining Order Project, in conjunction with the Clerk's Office of the Connecticut Superior Court (New Haven County Family Division) and the Family Division of New Haven Legal Assistance, staffs an office at the courthouse to assist individuals seeking temporary restraining orders (TROs). More information can be found here.
  • The Yale Environmental Law Association (YELA) draws attention to all aspects of environmental law and related fields. It hosts YLS community events, speakers and reading groups, and opportunities to connect and collaborate with other campus. It also works to promote sustainability in the use of law school facilities. YELA places special emphasis on the interdisciplinary, multifaceted character of environmental law and its relevance to a wide range of legal and policy issues. Activities include assisting in multi-school research initiatives (such as efforts to investigate the environmental records of judicial nominees); presenting an annual panel on careers in environmental law and policy; raising awareness of, and organizing campaigns to reduce, the Law School's environmental impact; and educating the Law School community about environmental issues. More information can be found here.
  • The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project supports women and children who fled persecution in their home countries and are now at risk of deportation. The project uses its remote representation model—originally developed to represent families while detained—to represent families in immigration courts nationwide. It focuses on regions with few or no legal aid lawyers, using innovative methods and harnessing the talent of law student volunteers to scale efforts and expand pro bono capacity. More information can be found here.

Groups Providing Law Related Education Services

  • The Marshall Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project is a national civics education program that sends law students into public high schools to teach courses in constitutional law and oral advocacy. These courses focus primarily on educating high school students about their constitutional rights. In addition, these courses train students in appellate advocacy and prepare them for moot court competitions with other schools. Law students run all aspects of the program, including curriculum design, lesson planning, and classroom teaching. More information can be found here.

Other Law-Related Projects

  • The Green Haven Prison Project functions on two basic premises: 1) that those who aspire to work in the field of law, and those whose lives are most intimately impacted by those laws, have much to learn from each other, and 2) that all law students should visit a prison at least once. Yale law students and Green Haven prisoners meet regularly to share their knowledge, thoughts and experiences through discussions on wide-ranging and sometimes controversial subjects. The exchange continues a tradition between the Law School and the prison which is over 40 years long; one of helping break down the barriers of communication between the prisoners and the outside world. There are many participants who attend every session and then there are some who are only able to drop-in on one or two sessions a year. The continuing dialogue is both frank and challenging for everyone involved. More information can be found here.
  • OutLaws is an organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members of the Law School community. The goal of OutLaws is to educate the Yale Law School community and beyond about legal issues affecting LGBT persons. Outlaws members have also become involved in litigation affecting the rights of LGBT individuals, such as drafting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court for Lawrence v. Texas challenging Texas' sodomy law and bringing suit against the Solomon Amendment. More information can be found here.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

There is no formal faculty pro bono policy. Students frequently work with faculty members on projects which often include research and publication.


The work of the student groups is celebrated at the bi-annual Public Service Reception. The reception serves to celebrate the service of the Law School community. An important part is to honor one student organization and one clinic that have performed especially noteworthy public service. This selection is based on student nominations and votes, which the Student Representatives administer on behalf of the Career Development Office.

Community Service

The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) is committed to fostering an active social, political and academic community of Black students at the Law School. They are also dedicated to making substantial contributions to the New Haven community by planning BLSA-specific service activities and by encouraging individual BLSA members to volunteer their time and talents to wide-ranging community service initiatives. Individual BLSA members have worked with students at Elm City Prep as tutors and mentors, traveled to New Orleans to support Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts, and raised money for countless other service initiatives. More information can be found here.

The Latinx Law Students Association (LLSA) unites YLS's Latinx students in a social, civic, political, and educational community. LLSA is committed not only to strengthening the presence of Latinx students on campus but also to interacting with and contributing to the New Haven/Fair Haven Latinx community. LLSA members volunteer at a local soup kitchen and partner with JUNTA Progressive Action, a non-profit organization that serves the legal and educational needs of the Latinx community. Several members regularly mentor and teach Latinx juvenile offenders at Project APOYO. More information can be found here.

The mission of Yale Law Women (YLW) is to promote the interests of women within and outside of the Law School. YLW devotes its resources to fostering discussion and debate of women's and gender issues, broadly defined; to the support, professional development, and recognition of women within the Law School community; and to advocacy for and in service of women's interests in our broader community. To further these purposes, YLW organizes a number of events to serve the public, acknowledging the multiplicity of ways in which law, gender, and social issues interact. More information can be found here.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Norma D’Apolito
Public Interest Advisor
Yale Law School
Career Development Office
(203) 436-2580

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Public Interest Centers

The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law provides fellowships for graduates to work full-time in the public interest for one year, as well as modest grants to legal service organizations under the auspices of the Liman Fund. It also sponsors a weekly workshop during the fall semester. Finally, student associates of the Liman Center work with current and former Liman Fellows on various research projects arising from the fellows' work. The Liman Center also holds an annual public interest law colloquium during the spring semester. More information can be found here.

The Orville H. Schell J. Center for International Human Rights coordinates a diverse program of human rights activities—from lectures and conferences to the Human Rights Workshop, a weekly gathering of students, scholars, and practitioners in the field of human rights. In addition, the center administers several human rights fellowships for students and recent graduates. The Schell Center is directed by Jim Silk, who can be reached at E-mail. More information can be found here.

The Paul Tsai China Center is the primary home for activities related to China at the Law School. In recent years, the Paul Tsai China Center has expanded its work to issues of U.S.-China relations more generally. The Center seeks to increase understanding of China's legal system outside of China and to support the legal reform process within China. To these ends it carries out research and teaching, promotes academic exchanges with China, and undertakes cooperative projects with legal experts in China on important legal reform issues. The Center's current activities focus on the areas of judicial reform, criminal justice reform, administrative and regulatory reform, constitutional law and public interest law. Project activities include research visits to Yale and to China, workshops and seminars in the United States and China, and publications. Yale Law School students are encouraged to participate in the work of the Center. For information, contact 203-436-0517 or email E-mail. More information can also be found here.

The Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights is a Yale University Program administered by Yale Law School. It was established in 2011 by philanthropists Peter and Patricia Gruber as part of the Gruber Foundation. The Gruber Program at the Law School consists of three core components: l) the Global Constitutionalism Seminar; 2) the Gruber Distinguished Lectures in Global Justice and Women's Rights; and 3) the Gruber Global Justice and Women's Rights Fellowships. Mindy Jane Roseman is the Director of the Gruber program and can be reached at E-mail. More information can be found here.

The Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, a joint undertaking between the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Yale Law School, seeks to incorporate fresh thinking, ethical awareness, and analytically rigorous decision-making tools into environmental law and policy. In addition to its research activities, the Center aims to serve as a locus for connection and collaboration by all members of the Yale University community who are interested in environmental law and policy issues. The Center supports a wide-ranging program of teaching, research, and outreach on local, regional, national, and global pollution control and natural resource management issues. These efforts involve faculty, staff, and student collaboration and are aimed at shaping academic thinking and policymaking in the public, private, and NGO sectors. The Center coordinates an Environmental Protection Clinic that undertakes long-term projects for clients (environmental groups, government agencies, community organizations, and private sector enterprises) and is staffed by interdisciplinary teams of law and environmental studies students. Projects include legislative drafting, litigation, multiparty negotiation, and policy development, and focus on topics including environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, and global warming. More information can be found here

Public Interest Clinics

The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (LSO) provides legal representation to individuals and organizations who cannot afford private attorneys. Students, supervised by law school faculty members and participating attorneys, interview clients, write briefs, prepare witnesses, try cases, negotiate settlements, draft legislation, draft documents, represent organizations and argue appeals in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Connecticut Supreme Court.

All LSO projects involve close collaboration among new students, experienced students and supervising clinical faculty. Investigating, developing and using facts are essential elements of lawyering and, therefore, of LSO's work. LSO also devotes special attention to ethical issues of professional responsibility and client-centered lawyering. Cases brought by LSO and its legislative efforts have helped make new laws protecting the rights of clients in the various projects. More information can be found here.

Here is a list of clinics run through the LSO:

Advanced Sentencing Clinic

Challenging Mass Incarceration Clinic

Samuel Jacobs Criminal Justice Clinic

Legislative Advocacy Clinic

Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development

Housing Clinic

Veterans Legal Services Clinic

Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic

Other Law School Clinics include:

Appellate Litigation Project

Capital Punishment Clinic

Environmental Protection Clinic

Ethics Bureau

San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project

Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic


Prosecution Externship: students in this clinical externship assist state or federal prosecutors with their responsibilities, both before and at trial. Placements are available in New Haven and surrounding cities and in a variety of fields, including misdemeanors, felonies, or specialized areas such as career criminal, traffic, or appellate work. Weekly sessions range from discussions of assigned readings to field trips to prisons, police laboratories, etc. Students are required to keep journals and time records. Placements at the U.S. Attorney's Office must be arranged at least four months in advance, to allow time for security clearance procedures. Applications and interviews for the State's Attorney placements take place during the first week of the term. Although enrollment is limited and permission of the instructor is required, timing and the involvement of outside agencies remove this clinic from the usual sign-up process for limited enrollment courses.

New Haven Legal Assistance Association Externship: Students may work for a semester with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association through Domestic Violence, Immigrant Rights, or Re-Entry clinics.

Classes with a Public Service Component

Yale provides many opportunities for students to initiate their own independent research and study. Through the student-organized research and legislative drafting seminar, students can submit a proposal for such seminars and, if approved, receive credit. In addition, students may receive credit for independent study with the approval of a faculty sponsor.

Public Interest Journals

  • Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal
  • Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics
  • Yale Journal of International Law
  • Yale Journal of Law and Feminism
  • Yale Law & Policy Review
  • Yale Journal on Regulation
  • Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities

PI Career Support Center

The Career Development Office at Yale Law School (CDO) maintains a focus on public service careers and pro bono work through programming, counseling, and resources, and employs a full-time counselor dedicated to this area. Each year, CDO conducts over 40 educational and mentoring programs regarding public interest work, sponsors several recruitment events involving service opportunities, and produces many service manuals and other resource materials.

Our public service manuals include:

Criminal Defense

Criminal Prosecution

Environmental Law

International Public Interest Law

Public Interest Careers

Public Interest Fellowships

Working on Capitol Hill

More information about CDO, its programs, and its resources is available at The Assistant Dean of the Career Development Office is Kelly Voight, [email protected].

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

The Career Options Assistance Program (COAP) allows students to choose public service after graduation by paying all or a portion of their academic loans. COAP provides full loan repayment to any and all graduates who are earning less than $50,000 a year (more with deductions) and partial repayment for those with salaries quite a bit higher. In 2018 alone, COAP provided over $5.3 million in loan forgiveness to 400 YLS graduates. To date, COAP has provided over $54 million in loan repayment.

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

The Robert M. Cover Fellowship Program offers post-graduate fellowships to experienced attorneys interested in clinical law teaching. The Cover Fellowship Program seeks to attract lawyers with at least five years of practice (or equivalent experience). Each fellowship starts during the summer and lasts for two years. More information can be found here.

The Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights provides post-graduate fellowships that allow recent graduates of Yale graduate and professional schools to spend a year working on issues of relevance to the fields of global justice and/or women's rights. More information can be found here.

The Heyman Federal Public Service Fellowship Program supports recent Yale Law graduates who wish to work closely with high-level leaders in the federal government for one year, either through an existing position or through a special assistantship. The fellowship allows alumni to explore careers in public service and to bring creative, entrepreneurial ideas to the federal government. At least two fellowships are awarded each year for fellows to work in the executive or legislative branch of the United States federal government. Positions that will not be considered include judicial clerkships, entry-level positions, and work for political campaigns.

The International Court of Justice Internship/Clerkship is a nine-month internship/clerkship position made available by the International Court of Justice at The Hague and funded by the Law School. The position is open to J.D.s, L.L.M.s, and J.S.D.s within five years of their graduation. Since the inception of the program for the 2002-03 term, LL.M. graduates have served every term except 2008-09. Candidates must be fluent in at least one of the ICJ's official languages, English or French, and a good working knowledge of the other is helpful.

The Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowship supports one year of full-time work in the U.S. in a law-related endeavor designed to further public interest, generally under the sponsorship of an existing organization or possibly through a start-up project. The fellowship is open to all graduates of the Law School, regardless of graduation year, and provides an annual stipend of approximately $47,500. More information can be found here.

The Mary A. McCarthy Fellowship in Public Interest Law support public interest law projects, especially in mediation and the rights of immigrants, prisoners, criminal defendants, and women. Work products have ranged from legal briefs and evidence gathered in support of litigation to articles in national journals, informational pamphlets, and videos. Applications must be submitted while still a student. Currently-enrolled students who will be graduating in May can apply for funding for projects to be undertaken within the year following graduation.

The Robert L. Bernstein Fellowships in International Human Rights, administered by the Schell Center for International Human Rights, allow both graduating students and recent graduates to devote a year to full-time advocacy human rights issues anywhere in the world. Applicants are encouraged to create projects with appropriate organizations, but independent projects will also be considered. The fellowship is intended to foster innovative approaches to human rights advocacy or to promote work on important human rights issues that have received relatively little attention. More information can be found here.

The Robina Foundation Post-Graduate Fellowship in International Human Rights allows its recipients to work anywhere in the world. Fellowships enable experiences of six months to a year in a number of categories: judicial clerkships in international and foreign courts and tribunals with substantial responsibility for human rights issues; international criminal tribunal internships; internships with international organizations concerned with human rights; and independent research on human rights topics. More information can be found here.

The San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project Fellowship offers a post-graduate fellowship for lawyers who are interested in a long-term career in law school clinical teaching or public lawyering. The Fellowship starts during the summer and lasts for one year. Fellowship responsibilities include running the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project at Yale Law School, co-teaching a seminar on local government law with Yale Law School Professor Heather Gerken, supervising student work, and working directly with the San Francisco City Attorney's Affirmative Litigation Task Force on related litigation. More information can be found here.

The Yale Law School Fellowship at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague enables its recipient to spend one year on the staff of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). The PCA was established to facilitate dispute resolution between states, state entities, intergovernmental organizations, and private parties. All Fellows will have significant drafting and research responsibilities. Fellows will also organize and observe hearings and deliberations, help negotiate and resolve issues among arbitrators, and work directly with the Secretary General to promote the PCA's activities. The position is open to J.D.s and LL.M.s in their final year, as well as J.S.D.s and recent graduates.

The Yale Law School Public Interest Fellowships support recent Yale Law School graduates for one year of full-time public interest work, with the possibility in limited circumstances of extended funding for up to an additional year. The proposed plan for the fellowship year must be one of the following: 1) legal project designed by applicant in partnership with a sponsoring organization; 2) existing project with a host organization; 3) staff attorney at a public interest organization; or 4) unpaid foreign or international court clerkship or international prosecution internship.

Graduate Student Funded:

Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale, Inc.

This student organization funds and supports innovative public interest law projects to protect the legal rights of inadequately represented groups or interests. Proposed projects should be new; they can be designed in conjunction with an organization as long as they are not simply funding requests for the ongoing work of an existing organization.

Other Funding Sources:

TRI PI - Travel Reimbursement for Interviews in the Public Interest. The Law School will cover reasonable travel expenses for 2Ls and 3Ls, up to $800, for travel to a public interest interview. Students need to speak with the Career Development Office for guidelines. More information can be found here.

Career Fair Reimbursement – The Yale Law School Career Development office also offers funding to offset registration fees and reasonable travel expenses for a number of travel fairs, including the annual Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair and the Yale co-sponsored Public Interest Career Fair.

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

The Deborah L. Rhode Fund for Public Interest & Pro Bono Services supports YLS students interested in pro bono or public interest opportunities during the academic year. The fund subsidizes costs such as reasonable transportation, lodging costs, and other necessities which are not covered by other funding sources.

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

The Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program (SPIF) provides up to $645 a week for up to 12 weeks to every student who needs this financial support to pursue a public interest job in the summer. More information can be found here.

Kirby Simon Summer Fellowships are offered by the Schell Center for International Human Rights. These fellowships combine SPIF living stipends with a travel grant to support summer work in international human rights. In recent years, as many as 20 percent of all first year students have received summer funding through these fellowships for international human rights work. More information can be found here.

The Mary McCarthy Fellowships provide funding for students' summer or brief post-graduate work in the public interest.

Graduate Student Funded:

SPIF- Student Contribution (SPIF-SC, formerly known as YIPPIE) encourages student participation in summer public interest work by raising funds to supplement SPIF (Summer Public Interest Fellowship) funding.

Other Funding Sources:

Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship Program started in 2013 and with an initial group of four partner institutions (Harvard, NYU, Stanford and Yale Law), this program is designed to connect highly motivated and accomplished law students to substantive, ten-week placements with the foundation's grantee organizations around the world, working to improve the lives of others through legal analysis, litigation and public policy advocacy.

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Rebellious Lawyering Conference

The Rebellious Lawyering Conference, known as "Reblaw," brings together practitioners, law students, community activists/advocates and academics from around the country to discuss innovative practices for achieving progressive social change. The conference has become a revered tradition not only for Yale's active public interest community, but also for progressive lawyers and law students around North America. The Rebellious Lawyering Conference draws on the talents and ideas of the entire law school. Students serve as co-directors of the conference, a number of volunteers help with logistics, and over 30 students serve as panel and workshop coordinators, responsible for inviting and communicating with speakers, as well as moderating the panels at the conference. Dozens of other Yale students volunteer to house the visiting attendees.

The goal of the conference is always to inspire law students to think critically about their legal careers and to inspire innovation in public interest advocacy. The hope is that the conference will translate into a lifelong commitment on the part of the attendees to work tirelessly to make a difference in the world.

Student Public Interest Groups

Africa Law and Policy Association
American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
Black Law Students Association
The Capital Assistance Project
Green Haven Prison Project
The Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale, Inc.
The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project
Latino Law Students' Association
Lowenstein Human Rights Project
Middle Eastern and North African Law Students' Association
Native American Law Students' Association
Pro Bono Network
Project for Law and Education at Yale
Rebellious Lawyering Conference
Temporary Restraining Order Project
Women of Color Collective
Yale AIDS Network
Yale Environmental Law Association
Yale Federalist Society
Yale Health Law and Policy Society
Yale Incentive for Public Interest Employment
Yale Jewish Law Students Association
Yale Law Women
Yale Society of International Law