Beyond The Classroom: Public Interest Fellowship Recipients Share Their Valuable Experiences
Minnesota Law is known for having one of the best public interest law programs in the country. We implement innovative models and opportunities to provide students with valuable legal training and a pipeline to employment, while providing organizations with much-needed legal assistance. Each summer, our students find summer positions in the public interest field in direct legal services or advocacy organizations in Minnesota and throughout the nation.
For many students pursuing these public interest summer internships would not be possible without financial support. This is because a large number of public interest summer positions are unpaid. Financial support is critical to allowing many students to pursue a long term career in public interest law.
Hear from three public interest fellowship recipients on their valued experiences:
Madelyn Cox-Guerra, 3L
In the summer of 2022, I was a law clerk with the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), on their Justice & Equity Team. The intensive research and writing required by this experience stretched my thinking about legal arguments and significantly improved my writing. Furthermore, I got to experience the process of public interest impact litigation, when before I had only worked for direct-aid legal organizations.
NCYL is a large impact litigation organization that does incredible work, and it was a dream of mine to work for them. I would have had to decline the opportunity to work at NCYL without receiving the Class of 1978/George Ludcke Human Rights Fellowship because the position did not provide me with sufficient income to pay for expenses like rent and groceries while working. It would have been devastating to give up that position because the experience has sharpened my skills and provided me with an exceptional real-world learning opportunity.
I am a dedicated public interest student. I have worked exclusively in public interest positions throughout law school. Receiving financial aid through the Fellowship allowed me to do the incredible work I love. After I graduate, my plan is to clerk with the Minnesota Supreme Court, and then continue to follow my passion in public interest by looking for a position with a legal aid organization that focuses on immigrant youth.
Justice Shannon, 3L
During my 2L summer, I was a legal intern at the Department of Commerce's Herbert C. Hoover headquarters location, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in Washington, D.C. The highlight of my summer was leading NTIA’s Internet For All program to reach out to more than 300 federally recognized Tribes to ensure that every Tribe was aware of and applying for tribal Digital Equity grants.
This experience allowed me to see the landscape of national Broadband funding laws across the country and learn how they interact with federal grants. I will have the opportunity to use these skills immediately after law school when I continue working for the Department of Commerce at NTIA after graduating this May.
Receiving the Auerbach Public Interest Fellowship has enabled me to pursue a career in federal public service through an unpaid summer internship. I am very grateful for that opportunity, which is proving to be worthwhile. I can’t say thank you enough to the donors who support these public service programs. They played a pivotal role in enabling me to learn more about federal grant programs and helping me launch my career.
Sara Koste '22
During the summer of 2020, I worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. It was an ideal position for me because I was exposed to litigation at the federal level early in my career. It was a very broad and diverse position where I refined my research skills, gained exposure to motion practice and worked on both civil and criminal litigation.
Receiving the Warren Spannaus Fellowship allowed me to accept this exciting but unpaid summer internship. Not only did this help me narrow my focus to a government career in civil litigation, but it also demonstrated to potential employers that I was committed to public interest. At an early stage of my career, this opened a lot of doors for me.
Without funding for that 1L Summer, my career path would likely have taken a different trajectory. I remain committed to justice in the interest of the public in my current postgraduate employment, with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office in Consumer Fraud Prosecution. I am incredibly grateful for the support I received, and urge donors to recognize the importance of supporting passionate students who otherwise would not be able to work in public interest.