Law School Public Interest Fellows
The Public Interest Fellowships at Cornell Law School
Every summer, Cornell Law students work in public-sector jobs that bring essential legal services to persons without other means of retaining legal representation. As these jobs are typically unsalaried, every Cornell Law student who serves in one receives a Public Interest Fellowship (PIF) from Cornell Law School. With a PIF grant in-hand, most students can also qualify for a federal work-study grant. Together, these funding sources provide the modest stipend that supports our students during their term of service.
Public interest legal work plays an important role in the education of almost every Cornell Law student. PIF grants enable the majority of our students to graduate with experience of public interest or government practice. Often these “PIF summers” are life-changing. Whether they are defending the civil liberties of underprivileged children and disenfranchised citizens, protecting the legal rights of indigent persons accused of crimes, working to remediate environmental abuse or race- and age-based discrimination, prosecuting state or federal criminal cases, or drafting legislation, PIF-funded students learn lessons that are essential to a comprehensive legal education.
Since 1996, Cornell Law School has awarded more than 1,500 Public Interest Fellowships to Law students who care about public service. Most of them enter private legal practice after they graduate, and they do so with first-hand experience of how our legal system works for – and challenges – persons who are unable to afford the advice, expertise, and guidance, of private-firm attorneys.
Our students are well-intentioned and eminently competent – and they really need your help.
PIF Grants: Helping Students Serve
Cornell Law School awards more than 100 Public Interest Fellowships every year. Some of these grants are drawn from endowed funds like the Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, Public Interest Law Fellowship; the Albert E. Arent A.B. `32 LL.B. `35 - Arent Fox LLP Public Interest Fellowship; the Carl P. and Dona M. Wolfram Public Interest Fellowship; and Harold Oaklander Public Interest Fellowship to Advance Justice and Public Policy against Persistent Unemployment. At the same time, the majority of PIF grants come from current-year gifts given by alumni, parents, and friends of Cornell Law School.
A $1,250 PIF grant supplements federal work-study funding to provide each student with a summer stipend of $5,000. Your gift to PIF will make a difference, whether it funds a $1,250 award complete or a portion of that amount. If you believe in the value of public service and the need to have skilled attorneys practicing law in the public interest, please make a gift today to the Public Interest Fellowships.
Public Interest Law Union - Law student group