Public Interest

In pursuit of the common good

Our graduates who work in the public interest arena are dedicated to – and passionate about – making a difference. Working closely with the Office of Career Services, the Office of Public Interest Programs sponsors public interest career-related events and programs and supports students interested in pursuing public interest internships and/or postgraduate employment. 

UCLA Law maintains close relationships with public interest employers throughout California and around the country. Our annual Fall Public Interest Reception and Information Fair allows students to network with more than 40 nonprofit public interest organizations in the region.  The Annual Southern California Public Interest/Public Sector Career Day, hosted by UCLA Law and cosponsored by a consortium of Southern California law schools, is one of the largest public interest legal career fairs in the country: In 2014, it drew more than 250 attorneys from more than 110 nonprofit organizations, government agencies and private public interest firms.

​Our students have worked as advocates in public interest organizations and firms across the United States and abroad.

Office of Public Interest Programs - Resources and Services

Supporting future public interest advocates and leaders and nurturing a public service ethic

UCLA School of Law, one of the nation’s premier public law schools, has a proud tradition of public service. Through our rich and innovative academic and pro bono programs, our vibrant public interest community of faculty, administrators, students and alumni, our intellectual and programmatic ties to one of the foremost universities in the country, and our location in one of the most diverse and exciting cities in the world, we are committed to preparing the public interest lawyers and advocates of the future and nurturing in all of our students a public service ethic. 

The Office of Public Interest Programs strives to enhance the UCLA Law’s commitment to public service by offering an array of services to School of Law students and alumni. The Office’s principal goal is to encourage students and alumni to embrace a career that incorporates an ongoing commitment to public service.

The Office:

  • Provides a variety of career and job search-related services to students and alumni interested in exploring and pursuing pro bono opportunities, public interest internships and/or postgraduate public interest employment. 
  • Hosts and sponsors public interest career-related events and educational programs, including the Annual Southern California Public Interest/Public Sector Career Day.
  • Encourages and facilitates students' pro bono efforts.
  • Administers the Summer Public Service Fellowship Program.
  • Serves as the UCLA School of Law’s principal information center for public interest and community service activities.
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Annual Southern California Public Interest/Public Sector Career Day

One of the largest of its kind in the country

In early February 2015, UCLA School of Law will host the 30th Annual Southern California Public Interest/Public Sector Career Day, one of the largest career fairs of its kind in the country. While annually hosted by the School and coordinated by the Office of Public Interest Programs, Career Day is cosponsored by the Southern California-area law schools. More than 250 attorneys from more than 110 nonprofit organizations, government agencies and offices and private public interest firms participated in the 2014 Career Day.

Career Day, which is free to employers and students, is comprised of four principal activities:

  • Prescheduled, formal interviews for summer and/or postgraduate positions.
  • Informal "table-talk," with representatives of the participating organizations, agencies and firms.
  • A series of informal lunchtime discussions, each focusing on a different substantive area of public interest practice (e.g., children and youth, environmental law, labor law), as well as a lunchtime discussion focusing on postgraduate public interest fellowships and the fellowship application process.
  • An afternoon panel discussion, "Criminal Law:  Prosecution and Defense."

While the interviewing component is open only to students from the cosponsoring law schools, all other activities are open to law students and alumni from schools throughout the country.

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Public Interest Financial Support

We help fund public interest jobs… and much more.

UCLA School of Law public interest-minded students and graduates have access to financial support through the School and the larger university. Support is available for incoming students, students working in unpaid (or partially paid) public interest summer positions, graduating students, and graduates engaged in public interest work.

Summer Public Interest Funding

The School of Law's Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Admissions administer financial assistance programs for incoming students.

Summer Public Service Fellowship Program

UCLA School of Law maintains one of the most generous law school programs to support students who engage in otherwise unpaid public interest work during the summer. The School of Law’s Summer Public Service Fellowship Program, administered by the Office of Public Interest Programs, provides stipends to all eligible students engaged in substantive, law-related public interest summer employment under the supervision of a legal professional in a nonprofit or government setting domestically or abroad. In summer 2013, approximately 230 students received stipends through the Program to work with more than 150 diverse organizations and agencies.

Additional School of Law Affiliated Funding Programs

The Office of Public Interest Programs also administers a number of additional funding sources supported by donors. An example is the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship, which honors United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and supports two students engaged in otherwise unpaid summer work that promotes the public interest and social justice values that have characterized the work and career of Justice Stevens.   

Independently or in coordination with the Office of Public Interest Programs, various School of Law Centers, Institutes and Programs also provide financial support to students engaged in summer public interest work in a substantive area of practice aligned with the mission of the specific Center, Institute or Program.

External Fellowships and Grants

There also exists an array of external fellowships and grants to support students working in a public interest capacity during the summer. The Office of Public Interest Programs maintains information on these funding opportunities and helps students identify and apply for these opportunities.

Funding for Graduating Students

Public Service Fellowships

The School of Law’s Public Service Fellowship Program seeks to support graduating students who have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to public service, enabling them to work with a variety of nonprofit organizations and government agencies, both domestically and abroad.

Professional Opportunity Program Fellowships

Through the Professional Opportunity Program, the School of Law and Liberty Hill Foundation have partnered to establish a one-year fellowship to allow successful Class of 2013 and 2014 candidates the opportunity to work full-time for up to one year with a nonprofit organization, government agency or judge.  Participants are paid monthly stipends.

Community Economic Development Fellowship

The School of Law’s Community Economic Development Fellowship provides an opportunity for a graduate to pursue transactional legal work that advances the goals of community economic development in Los Angeles. The fellowship term is one year and the fellowship placement alternates annually between the community economic development units of Public Counsel Law Center and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. 

Gideon Fellowship

The School of Law’s Gideon Fellowship, the first fellowship of its kind in the country, is a partnership between the School of Law, Gideon’s Promise – a trailblazing organization that trains and places new law graduates and law students in southern public defender offices, and six public defender offices in the South. Beginning with the graduating class of 2014, one School of Law graduate will be selected as the Gideon Fellow, serving as a public defender with one of the School’s six public defender partner organizations and receiving training and mentorship from Gideon’s Promise. At the end of the one-year Fellowship term, the Fellow will move into a full-time permanent position as a staff public defender with the partner public defender office and continue to receive training and mentorship from Gideon’s Promise.

School of Law New Graduate Opportunity Program

Administered by the Office of Career Services, the New Graduate Opportunity Program funds part-time, temporary work with nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Participating graduates have a unique opportunity to further build their resume and to enhance their legal skills while awaiting Bar results.

External Fellowships

There is a range of funding opportunities through postgraduate fellowships and government honors programs to support graduating law students, judicial clerks and public interest entrepreneurs seeking entry- and mid-level public interest opportunities. Working closely with the Office of Public Interest Programs, our students have been very successful in securing these exceptionally competitive opportunities.

Funding for Alumni in Public Interest

The School of Law maintains a competitive Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) for graduates working in the public interest. Under the School’s LRAP, administered by the Office of Financial Aid, graduates can apply to have a portion – and in some cases all – of the debt service on loans they incurred while at the School of Law subject to a forgivable loan from the School.

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