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Pennsylvania State University - Penn State Law

Pennsylvania State University -- Penn State Law
Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA16802

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Category Type

Description of Programs

Location of Programs



Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono


Community Service

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Susan E. Bardo
Interim Director, Family Law Clinic
Director, Public Interest Programs
[email protected]
(814) 865-4290

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Concentration in Public Interest Law - Students may earn Concentration recognition in Public Interest Law using courses from approved selected courses. J.D. students must earn a minimum of 12 credits and LL.M. students a minimum of 9 credits. 


Public Interest Centers

Public Interest Clinics

Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic - Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (CIRC) is a nationally recognized in-house clinic focused on immigration. The CIRC provides law students with hands-on clinical training in immigration law through three pillars: community outreach and education, pro bono legal support, and policy work.

Civil Rights Appellate Clinic - The Civil Rights Appellate Clinic provides intensive training in appellate advocacy by involving students in noncriminal civil rights cases before the state appellate courts, federal courts of appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Students conduct research, draft briefs, assist in case selection, develop substantive legal positions, and plan appellate strategy.

Family Law Clinic - Students in the Family Law Clinic represent victims of domestic abuse, and other individuals with family law disputes such as divorce and child custody. The work typically includes intensive counseling, case strategy, and negotiation, for which the students learn a client-centered approach to the practice of law.

Indigent Criminal Justice Practicum - The Indigent Criminal Justice Practicum provides students opportunities to work in the criminal justice system within two different tracks. The  Trial Track  involves representation of indigent criminal defendants accused of misdemeanor offenses in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas. The  Criminal Appellate/Post-Conviction Track  involves representation of indigent defendants at appellate and post-conviction proceedings. This representation occurs at the trial and appellate court levels as well as at state prisons.

International Sustainable Developments Clinic – Law students collaborate with organizations (educational, nonprofit, for profit) to facilitate sustainable development projects abroad. The International Sustainable Development Projects Law Clinic provides students with the opportunity to build the legal skills necessary to bring sustainable new ventures to market in an international setting.

Rural Economic Development Clinic – The Rural Economic Development Clinic is committed to the complementary goals of training talented lawyers while encouraging sustainable rural economic development by representing clients in agricultural, food, and energy sectors. Students work with individuals and organizations to assist in providing tools for successful business operation.

Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic - The Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic represents veterans and current servicemembers. Students provide counseling services for veterans and Pennsylvania Offices of Veterans Affairs primarily concerning appeals of veterans’ disability, pension and education benefits claims. and State and Federal Policy. The Clinic also seeks to influence and/or develop state and federal legislation that affects veterans or servicemembers.


Semester Externship Programs:

Externships Everywhere – Penn State Law’s exclusive Externships Everywhere program opens the door to a nearly limitless array of externship possibilities across the country and around the world by offering second- and third- year law students the opportunity to step out of the classroom for a semester and gain practical experience working at an approved externship in a legal office in practically any location around the world.

International Justice Externship - As part of the Externships Everywhere program, Penn State Law’s International Justice Externship offers students an opportunity to pursue advanced international study and gain legal experience in a global setting. Working side-by-side with prosecutors at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) and the International Criminal Court (ICC), both located in The Hague, Netherlands, students participate in some of the most significant international criminal cases being prosecuted today. 

Semester in Washington Program - Penn State Law students who participate in the John C. Keeney Semester in Washington Program spend one semester during the third year of law school in Washington, D.C., externing at an approved federal government agency, nonprofit organization or public interest group. The legal externship experience provides advanced study in federal law and serves as a capstone experience for students interested in federal practice.

General Externship Program:

General externships allow students to continue taking courses while working with federal judges, state or federal government agencies, and private, public interest or nonprofit organizations.

General externships include the following:

Federal Judicial Placements

Federal Government Placements

State Government Placements

Public Interest and Nonprofit Placements

Penn State University Placements

Summer Externships:

The summer externship program is intended to provide an experiential learning opportunity for a student who has a demonstrated strong interest in a specific subject and/or geographic area which is not available or accessible during the Fall or Spring semesters. 

Classes with a Public Service Component

Asylum & Refugee Law
Children and the Law
Constitutional Law I (LLMs Only)
Constitutional Law II: Equal Protection & Civil Rights
COVID-19: Law and Tech Policy Seminar
Critical Race & Feminist Legal Theory
Election Law
Election Security Seminar
Employment Discrimination
Family Law
Human Rights
Intersectionality & the Law
Immigration Law
International Human Rights Seminar
Law and Sexuality
Minority Business Ownership
Street Law
Veterans Benefits

Public Interest Journals


While Penn State Law does not have a specific public interest journal, it does have a number of public interest publications including weekly public interest updates and the Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs.

PI Career Support Center

The Career Services Office provides career assistance to public interest minded students. The Law School participates in a number of local, regional and national public interest events designed to encourage public interest career opportunities.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

Penn State Law is currently re-developing its LRAP and anticipates that it will be ready to award funds when the current pause on federal student loan repayment is lifted.

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

While Penn State Law does not currently have a specific public interest scholarship program, it does maintain a robust general scholarship program.

Graduate Student Funded

Other Funding Sources:

Penn State Law students have many opportunities to apply for scholarships from other sources. Those scholarships are accessible, along with descriptions, possible award amounts and criteria, on the Scholarships and Need-Based Grants web page

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

The Penn State Law Public Interest Law Fund (PILF) is dedicated to promoting student interest and community involvement in the field of public interest law. PILF promotes its goals by fundraising and sponsoring public interest events on campus to educate students about the rewarding career possibilities in public interest law. Each year, PILF raises thousands of dollars to underwrite the PILF Summer Fellowship Program. Fellowship awards enable Penn State Law students to accept summer employment with public interest firms and organizations that desperately need student assistance but do not have the resources to compensate summer interns.

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

IOLTA Summer Fellowship Program

Penn State Law annually offers IOLTA Summer Fellowships to first- and second-year students. Students obtain summer fellowships at Legal Services offices in Pennsylvania or at other IOLTA-funded organizations in Pennsylvania. Each fellowship is intended to fund work over a period of 10 weeks. Fellowship students are supervised on a day-to-day basis by staff and managing attorneys. Students in this program assist staff attorneys in representing eligible clients in a variety of case types, including but not limited to protection from abuse, custody, landlord tenant, public benefits, and consumer law matters. Students have extensive contact with clients, and may carry a caseload of their own.

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Student Public Interest Groups

Public Interest Law Fund (PILF) - PILF’s goal is to help law students interested in public interest careers gain valuable experience. Through financial support to students engaged in public interest internships, PILF ultimately assists populations who are traditionally underserved and inadequately represented by providing greater access to legal services.