|Think, Act and Practice Like
a Lawyer with Public Service
and Pro Bono
The practical experience you gain by becoming active in your school's clinics and with public service organizations will not only open doors for you in a tough job environment, it will give you the experience needed to become a better lawyer.
Most importantly, the time you devote to public interest work will allow you to experience just how rewarding a career in public service can be. You may even choose to pursue that path over a more traditional legal career. Below, fellow law students share how fulfilling it can be to participate in public service during law school.
Students share their experiences
"I represented a man from South Asia who was trafficked to the U.S. to work as a slave in a restaurant. He was forced to live in the kitchen and constantly received threats to his, and his family's safety. When law enforcement refused to recognize that our client was a victim, my clinic partner and I had to perform some legal gymnastics to help him get access to the immigration and other relief he deserved."
-- University of Michigan Student
"My partner and I were able to procure Social Security Benefits for three clients who were severely ill. Through my work, I was able to represent these clients in an administrative hearing, which allowed me to foster my litigation capabilities, while really helping clients who were truly in need. … This was one of the most rewarding opportunities I've experienced, and feel honored to have participated in this clinic."
-- Albany Law School Student
"I have the pleasure of working as a Staff Attorney for the University of Michigan Law School Human Trafficking Clinic (HTC). This job grew out of my experience as a student in HTC, which was unquestionably the most dynamic, influential, and meaningful part of my law school experience."
-- University of Michigan Graduate
How to get started
Here are some of the ways you can get started as a student:
- Inquire about public service and clinic programs at your school.
- Your local bar association may need volunteers for their pro bono initiatives.
- Look for part-time public service work during the school year.
- If you cannot find a paid position at a firm, volunteer to work on a firm's pro bono matters.
If you have some flexibility after graduation, you can volunteer with one of the organizations listed on the right to open doors for the future. Many law firms also sponsor fellowships, which are great opportunities to explore a career in public interest while earning credibility with the sponsor law firm.
||Resources for Public Service and Pro Bono Opportunities:
The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono & Public Service
The Pro Bono Institute
The International Bar Association’s Access to Justice and Public Interest Committee