University of Chicago Law School
Law School Pro Bono Programs
Shehnaz I. Mansuri
Pro Bono Service Initiative Manager
P: (773) 834-5994
Fax: (773) 702-3154
Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by Administrative Support for Student Group Projects
Description of Programs
The University of Chicago Law School is dedicated to the principle that members of the legal profession and those aspiring to enter the legal profession have a professional obligation to assist in providing quality legal services to individuals, groups or causes that are under-represented in the legal system. In furtherance of this principle, the Law School encourages its students to pledge to complete at least 50 hours of law-related volunteer work before they graduate. Entirely voluntary, the Chicago Pro Bono Service Initiative gives participating students exposure to a range of important legal issues and invaluable experience that will contribute to their education.
Location of Programs
The Pro Bono Service Initiative is administered through the Office of Career Services; see http://www.law.uchicago.edu/publicinterest/probono for more information.
One Director of Public Interest Law, one Pro Bono Service Initiative Manager and various student leaders.
Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects
The Pro Bono Service Initiative works with students and student groups to develop and participate in pro bono service projects in the legal community.
Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono
All students who complete at least 50 hours of pro bono service receive a Dean's Certificate of Recognition and receive special recognition at graduation. In addition, the graduating student completing the most pro bono hours receives a special Award of Excellence.
Numerous student groups engage in community service throughout the year. For example:
Neighbors is the Law School's primary community service organization. Each year, approximately 100 law students spend two hours a week volunteering in the local community. These service programs include individual tutoring at local elementary and high schools, career mentoring for teen-adults, participating at a soup kitchen, and visiting the elderly at the local YWCA.
Black Law Students Association has invited area high school students for an introduction to law school and held a clothing drive. They also tutor high school kids at a legal-themed charter school in West Garfield Park.
Law Women's Caucus initiated a toiletries drive, encouraging students travelling for interview to donate unused hotel toiletries, which will be distributed to local shelters.
Law School Public Interest Programs
Susan J. Curry
Director of Public Interest Law & Policy
P: (773) 702-4558
Fax: (773) 702-3154
Public Interest Centers
Public Interest Clinics
The University of Chicago Law School is home to many highly-regarded legal clinics and clinical projects: the eight projects within the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic include a Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project, Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project, Employment Discrimination Project, Federal Criminal Justice Project, Housing Initiative, Environmental law, International Human Rights, and a Mental Health Project. Additional Clinics include The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights, the Exoneration Project, the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, the Gendered Violence and the Law Clinic, the Prosecution and Defense Clinic, and a Corporate Lab clinical program.
These Clinical Programs 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. For more information, see http://www.law.uchicago.edu/clinics
Classes with a Public Service Component
For a current sampling of classes with a public service component, go to: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/publicinterest/curriculum
Public Interest Journals
PI Career Support Center
The careers counselors of the University of Chicago Law School include a dedicated public interest law advisor. Counselors offer critical assistance to students and alumni pursuing work in the public and nonprofit sectors, including government service, postgraduate fellowships, or international placements.
The Law School offers:
- Individual counseling and resources for current students and alumni
- A dedicated public interest counselor to 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
- An extensive public service resource center with publications and a wealth of online intranet material
- Assistance for student groups, including The Chicago Law Foundation and the Public Interest Law Society
- Postgraduate fellowship application assistance
- Programming throughout the year on a variety of public service job topics, including fellowships, government careers, and funding
- Institutional membership in Equal Justice Works, providing access to information and programs such as the Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Equal Justice Works Summer Corps, and the Equal Justice Works Annual Conference and Career Fair
- Registration for, and travel grants to, the Equal Justice Works Annual Conference and Career Fair
- Promotion of and participation in other public service job fairs including The National Black Prosecutors Association Job Fair, Cook County State's Attorney's Office Prosecutorial Opportunities symposium, City of Chicago Legal Job Fair, and the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Pro Bono and Community Service Volunteer Fair
- Participation in the Midwest Public Interest Law Career Conference and the Chicago Area Law Schools Consortium's Public Service Employers Reception
- Job postings through Symplicity and on the Public Service ListServ
- Membership with PSJD, including an online directory to public interest organizations and job postings
- On-line subscriptions access to the Government Honors and Internships Handbook and Opportunities in Public Affairs
- Access to an Alumni Public Interest Law Network & Directory
- Debt management and financial planning assistance
Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)
The University of Chicago Law School Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is intended to alleviate the debt burden of our graduates who work in public interest. The most inclusive program of its kind, our LRAP includes a straightforward application and a generous $80,000 salary cap. In addition, all graduates who serve as judicial clerks are eligible for the program. The LRAP works in concert with current federal debt relief programs to offer the opportunity for any graduate staying in public interest for ten years to attend law school for free. For more details go to: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/financialaid/LRAP
Law School Funded:
The University of Chicago Law School Postgraduate Public Interest Law Fellowships are awarded to a limited number of competitively chosen graduating students who develop public interest fellowship projects with public sector host organizations. Thanks to the generosity of alumni funders, each Fellow works for one year following graduation at an eligible public service host organization on public interest legal issues such as welfare rights, affordable housing, domestic violence, immigration, workers rights, special education, environmental protection and juvenile justice. Each fellowship includes financial support of $40,000. Fellows provide periodic progress reports, including a final report at the end of the fellowship year. Applications for the Fellowship will be made available during the winter quarter of each academic year. For more information go to: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/publicinterest
Graduate Student Funded:
The Chicago Law Foundation (CLF) is a student-directed, not-for-profit group that awards grants to law students who devote their summers to working in the public interest (see below). In addition, CLF awards bar grants to graduating 3Ls who will be entering the public sector to assist with their expenses connected to the bar exam.
Other Funding Sources:
The Law School's Public Service Initiative (PSI) provides financial support to a limited number of graduating students who engage in one year of full-time legal work in qualifying public service organizations, such as nonprofit offices and governmental agencies.
Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships
Law School Funded:
Graduate Student Funded:
Other Funding Sources:
Law School Funded:
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.
Graduate Student Funded:
The Chicago Law Foundation (CLF) is a student-directed, not-for profit group that awards grants to law students who devote their summers to working in the public interest. Because few public interest organizations and government agencies have the money to pay law students for summer employment, CLF assists law students who would not otherwise be able to work for such organizations. Together with support from the Law School, CLF is now able to guarantee summer public interest funding to any second-year law student who works ten weeks in a public interest law position at a nonprofit or government agency.
CLF is non-partisan and funds projects that fall anywhere on the political spectrum. Past CLF grantees have worked for a wide variety of organizations including: the American Civil Liberties Union; the AIDS Legal Council; the Institute for Justice; Public Citizen Litigation Group; Brooklyn Legal Services; the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project; the Center for Individual Rights; the Authors' Guild; the National Wildlife Federation; and a host of federal, state or local governmental agencies. http://www.law.uchicago.edu/studentorgs/clf
Chicago Policy Initiatives: The Chicago Policy Initiatives combine the collective work and experience of faculty and students to address specific social problems with the intent of providing potential solutions. Several of these initiatives have public interest and community-oriented goals.
The Chicago Policy Initiative on Foster Care is a project that unites former foster children, scholars, policy makers, judges, and lawyers in an effort to understand the special problems facing foster youth aging out of the child welfare system and to identify opportunities for legal reform that help make a successful transition to independent adulthood.
The Chicago Project on Animal Treatment Principles is an interdisciplinary initiative in animal rights law that is intended to generate information about animal treatment standards, and disclosure of varying levels of adherence to those standards, which in turn will help inform and educate consumers and investors in making choices in the market. The Project involves faculty and students examining best practices and developing disclosure guidelines for the treatment of animals in various industries.
Regular Panels and Other Programs:
- 1L Options Series: Public Interest & Government Service Positions
- 1L Options Series: International Opportunities, including International Human Rights
- Working for the Federal Government Program
- Department of Justice Informational Session
- Public Interest Employers Networking Reception
- Post-Graduate Fellowship Information Sessions
Other Funding Sources:
Students also receive summer funding from other sources such as the Equal Justice Works Summer Corps program, Equal Justice America, and other grant programs.
Additionally, students who are working at internationally-based public interest law positions are eligible to receive a $1,000 summer travel stipend.
Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs
The Chicago Policy Initiatives, designed in the spirit of the Chicago Jury Project of the 1950's, are one of the most ambitious of the recently expanded intellectual and practical programs underway at the Law School. The Chicago Policy Initiatives combine the collective work and experience of faculty and students to address specific social problems with the intent of providing potential solutions. Several of these initiatives have public interest and community-oriented goals.
The Animal Law Policy Initiative , sponsored by the McCormick Companions' Fund, encourages student and faculty research into legal issues surrounding companion animals.
Climate Change Online addresses one of the defining problems of our time. The scientific research on climate change is well developed, and researchers have many sources for understanding what research has been done on a particular topic and what questions remain open. The policy implications, however, remain uncertain. This is in part because far fewer resources have been devoted to understanding the policy implications of climate change. It is also in part because of the lack of good mechanisms for gathering and exchanging information related to climate policy. There are a variety of journals that publish on climate policy, many organizations have climate research centers, and there are a large number of blogs, but there is no place where a researcher or interested citizen can quickly find out what the most current and best thinking is on a topic, where it has been published, or what underlying data support that view. The information on climate policy is dispersed across many resources and individuals.
Foster Care to Adulthood . Young people who grow up in foster care face daunting odds when they "age out" of that system as adults. Many of them find themselves without a job and without a home. Before long, many are incarcerated, and others become parents before they are ready. Staying in school is fraught with obstacles, from unaffordable tuition, to episodic housing, to a lack of academic and emotional supports. This protocol, developed by students and Professor Emily Buss in the course of a workshop at the University of Chicago Law School, is designed to assist those interested in reforming the law and the legal process to improve foster youths' transition from foster care to adulthood.
Student Public Interest Groups
For a list of student public interest groups, go to: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/publicinterest/studentorgs
August 7, 2018