student presenting her argument in a mock trial

Public Interest

Minnesota Law offers numerous public interest opportunities through a wide variety of academic courses, clinics, centers, research institutes, student organizations, volunteer opportunities, the Robina Public Interest Scholars Program, and the Saeks Public Interest Residency Program, among others.

Robina Public Interest Scholars Program

This program creates a seamless path from admission to full-time employment for students interested in public service careers. One of the only integrated programs of its kind in the country, it builds on the Law School's long history of public service in providing transformative opportunities for interested students, while helping under-resourced legal service providers better serve their clients and communities. Read more about the Robina Public Interest Scholars Program

Saeks Public Interest Residency Program

The Saeks Public Interest Residency Program connects leading public interest and government organizations with passionate public interest-focused students. Students work full-time during their third year of law school for a nonprofit or government agency and have a guaranteed, full-time, paid legal position with the same organization the year following graduation. Read more about the Saeks Public Interest Residency Program.

Law School Public Service Program (LSPSP) 50-Hour Challenge

In keeping with its mission of service, the University of Minnesota Law School challenges all JD students to complete at least 50 hours of law-related public service before graduation. In partnership with the Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF), students are matched with non-profit and government agencies in Minnesota and nationwide, giving them the opportunity to serve clients while gaining valuable skills under attorney supervision. Graduates who meet or exceed the 50-hour challenge are honored at Commencement and receive a notation on their official Law School transcript. 


Students can also pursue cutting-edge concentrations in areas such as criminal justice, environmental & energy law, family law, health law & bioethics, human rights law, immigration law, international law, and labor & employment law. Concentrations combine the expertise of our faculty and partnerships with other University of Minnesota programs. Electing a concentration can enhance public interest career opportunities through interdisciplinary and specialized courses, research and writing projects with faculty, mentorship opportunities with professors and other experts, networking with engaged alumni, and a degree notation.


Clinical education at the University of Minnesota Law School includes a wide range of legal clinics that provide students with the opportunity to develop their legal skills and gain real-world client-service experience in a supportive setting. Under the Student Practice Rule adopted by the Minnesota Supreme Court, clinic students are permitted to represent clients in actual court and administrative agency proceedings under the supervision of clinic faculty. The depth and breadth of our clinical offerings range from sports, name, image & likeness to federal immigration litigation, racial justice, consumer protection, federal tax, business law, intellectual property law, environmental & energy law, and many more. Minnesota Law is proud to offer one of the nation's largest and most distinguished clinical education programs.

Institutes & Journals

Several research institutes are committed to public interest work and make important contributions to legal scholarship and public policy research, including the Center for New Americans, Human Rights Center, Institute on Crime and Public Policy, Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, and Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.

Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, a student-edited journal, examines the social impact of law on disadvantaged people.

The Human Rights Center works at the nexus of scholarship and practice to protect and promote human rights at the local, national and international level. One of the first of its kind, the Center was founded by Professor David Weissbrodt in 1988 and enjoys an international reputation for rigorous research, a dedicated teaching mission, and crucial support to civil society and human-rights institutions locally, nationally and globally. The Center serves as a hub for the Law School’s wide-ranging human rights activities and supports interested students with programming on campus, school-year field placements and summer fellowships, opportunities for applied research, participation in national conferences and competitions, and academic and professional advising.

Remote Semester Program

Students have the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the legal profession and in public service while earning credits toward their law degree. Working for a government or nonprofit organization nationally or internationally during their 3L year for one semester, they earn 10 credits for work performed. Students will also earn an additional two credits by enrolling in the Independent Research & Writing Paper.

Summer Internships & Post-Graduate Fellowships

Due to support from generous alumni and donors, the Law School provides funding for numerous summer and postgraduate fellowships in public interest work. Fellowship opportunities are also available through the Minnesota Justice Foundation, Equal Justice America, Equal Justice Works, Peggy Browning Fund, and many others. 

The Human Rights Center’s Fellowship Program also offers selected fellows the opportunity to spend the summer working in the field of human rights and international law, with UN bodies, U.S. or foreign courts and governmental agencies, national, foreign, or international NGOs, applied research projects with academic institutions, and with client-based organizations aimed at strategic impact for systemic change.

The Career Center also promotes public interest-focused summer and school-year field placements and work study opportunities, both nationally and internationally. 

Student Organizations

The Minnesota Justice Foundation's student chapter helps support careers in public interest law, sponsors a speaker series, and offers opportunities for socializing and networking with other public interest students and alumni. Law students have the opportunity to serve as volunteer law clerks in a variety of government, nonprofit, outreach clinic, and firm pro bono settings through MJF. Numerous other Law School organizations provide students with public interest opportunities for academic study, community service, and pro bono work.

Career Development Support

The Career Center has a dedicated Assistant Director of Public Interest, who counsels students and alumni on public service career paths, hosts events throughout the school year (including public interest career panels), recruits public interest employers, and manages summer and postgraduate funding programs. The Career Center also offers targeted resources, connections, and support for public interest legal work, including summer opportunities, pro bono work, school-year experiences, and post graduate public interest careers.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs 

Our alumni in public interest use a variety of loan repayment & assistance programs, including federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness, state and employer loan repayment assistance programs, and income-based repayment programs. The Law School's loan repayment assistance program, LRAP Minnesota, provides funding for alumni in public interest careers.