Public Interest Law

What is Public Interest Law?

Attorneys involved in the field of public interest law work to provide legal counsel for the poor, and those of limited means in such areas as immigration, domestic violence, family court mediation, death penalty advocacy, police misconduct, environmental advocacy, and community service.

What is the SJU Law Public Interest Committee?

As part of the Student Bar Association, the Public Interest Committee is made up of dedicated law students of all years who have the drive to participate in achieving public interest goals.

What does the Public Interest Committee do?

The Committee works with various public interest organizations, the law School administration, and the Career Services Office, in an effort to coordinate campus activities including panel presentations, blood drives, and the annual Public Interest Auction.  These Committee-sponsored activities educate students about the rewards and realities that public interest attorneys face, while at the same time providing students with the opportunity to network with members in the field.

What is the Public Interest Auction?

Started in 1997 by students, faculty and alumni, the annual Public Interest Auction has become one of the central events on the academic calendar of the School of Law.  Members of the entire law school community (which includes alumni, faculty, students and administration, as well as local and national vendors) donate money and/or a wide variety of items that auction attendees bid for during the lively spring night.  All of the money raised at the annual auction directly funds summer fellowships for law students engaging in public interest internships.  This past spring, the Public Interest Auction raised over $52,000 to fund summer fellowships: the highest total to date.

What is the Public Interest Summer Fellowship Program?

The Fellowship Program was founded to fund summer fellowships for law students who work in the public interest field, in positions that ordinarily would be unpaid.  To be eligible to compete for a fellowship, a student must secure a summer internship that affords them an opportunity to serve or advocate for the poor, disadvantaged, marginalized or underrepresented of society.  This past summer, 12 students received stipends of approximately $4,000 for 10-week fellowships.

In the past, fellowship recipients have joined public interest efforts in Miami, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Hawaii, San Diego, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester, Long Island, Queens and India.

Students have worked for a variety of public interest organizations such as the New York Legal Aid Society, the Capital Defender Office, the ACLU, the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project, and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Public Interest Law Links

National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL) – www.napil.org Legal Aid Society of New York – www.legal-aid.org
New York State Capital Defender Office – www.nycdo.org
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest – www.nylpi.org
Probono.net/ny: New York Lawyers Serving the Public Good –
www.probono.net/ny
PSLawNet: The Public Service Law Network Worldwide – www.pslawnet.org