Public Interest Career Development
Since its founding, Southwestern has inspired a commitment to public service through a rich selection of programs, courses, and activities.
Individual Donor and Foundations Scholarships for Continuing Students
The following scholarships are dedicated to supporting Southwestern students pursuing public service career goals. Continuing students can find information regarding eligibility and the application process at the MySWLAW portal.
Individual Donor and Foundations Scholarships for Continuing Students
Margaret A. Barreto-Morehouse Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund: established in memory of Mrs. Margaret A. Barreto-Morehouse '80 to provide financial assistance to a continuing female student with the career goal of becoming a prosecutor.
Irwin N. Bloom Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund: established in memory of Mr. Irwin N. Bloom '59 to provide financial assistance to students who have demonstrated a genuine interest and commitment to public service and government work.
Dino Hirsch Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund: scholarships from this fund are awarded to Hispanic law students with financial need who are planning to pursue public interest careers. The endowment was established by the Coronado Street Tenants Association after they won a settlement from a negligent landlord with the assistance of Ms. Edie Sussman '81. The fund is named after the late tenant organizer who initially helped the 14 families.
Professor Douglas Salem Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund: established by members of the Southwestern community in memory of this beloved and distinguished faculty member. Preference is given to students demonstrating academic excellence, participation in extracurricular and community activities, and financial need.
George A. Yanase Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund: established in memory of Mr. George A. Yanase '67 by friends and members of the Yanase family. Scholarships from this fund are awarded to evening students in their final year of study who have been employed throughout their law school career and who have demonstrated an interest in public service and governmental work in the field of corporate securities law.
Public Interest Law Committee
Southwestern's student-run Public Interest Law Committee (PILC) sponsors a number of activities every year to raise awareness and encourage involvement in providing legal services to underrepresented members of society. The PILC board coordinates fundraising efforts throughout the academic year with all proceeds benefitting Southwestern’s Public Interest Law Fund which supports students including the Summer Public Interest Law Grant Program.
Public Interest Law Committee Summer Grant Program and Fellowships
Students interested in working in public service, which includes public interest law organizations and government agencies, may apply for grant and summer fellowship opportunities. These programs provide sources of financial support to students seeking summer work experience with agencies dedicated to serving communities and individuals in need while also enhancing the educational experiences of Southwestern students.
Learn more about PILC Summer Grant Program and Fellowships
Public Interest Law Committee Awards for Graduating Students
Recipients are selected annually through an application and faculty committee review process. The Faculty Public Interest Law Committee takes into account the following factors in assessing a graduating student application for each award:
- Participation in public interest law activities while a student at Southwestern.
- Participation in public interest law activities with a nonprofit organization, government agency or other entity while a student at Southwestern.
- Plans for a career in public interest law.
- Plans to incorporate pro bono service in private practice.
Given annually to one graduating student in recognition of demonstrated extraordinary dedication to public interest law activities while at Southwestern. The Woolverton Award is in the amount of $10,000.
Given annually to one graduating student in recognition of demonstrated exceptional dedication to public interest law activities while at Southwestern. The Woolverton Family Public Interest Award is in the amount of $5,000.
Given annually to a graduating student (or students) other than the Woolverton Public Service Award and Woolverton Family Public Interest Award recipients in recognition of demonstrated significant dedication to public interest law activities while at Southwestern.
Application for Public Interest Law Committee Graduating Student Awards
In order to be considered for the George and Katrina Woolverton Public Service Award or The Woolverton Family Public Interest Award or the Southwestern Public Interest Law Service Award, the following items are required:
- Current resume
- Personal statement
- Letter(s) of recommendation
The deadline to apply for the PILC Committee Graduating Student Awards is typically scheduled mid-March each year and posted on the MySouthwestern portal along with full details on application instructions –e.g. application material requirements, format requirements, word-count requirements, letter of recommendation requirements, etc. – before submitting at the online application portal.
After close of the application deadline, the Faculty Public Interest Law Committee reviews all student applications received and will notify students of application status by early April with awards disbursed during the Spring semester.
Graduating Students Apply Here
Public Interest Recruitment and Community Events
Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair
Happening every October in Washington DC, the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair is the largest national recruitment event for public interest / public service career students and through which students can apply for academic-year, summer or postgraduate opportunities in regions from across the country – e.g. East Coast, Mid-West, South/Deep South, Pacific Northwest, and Southwestern states.
More than 180 employers will conduct formal interviews for academic-year and summer clerkships as well as postgraduate and entry-level positions with public interest, civil legal aid, and government agencies in offices from across the country. Employers also will be available to meet with students in informal “table talk” discussions. Registered student attendees also take part in workshops on public interest / public service careers, networking, resume review, mock interviews, and more.
If you are interested in competing for formal interviews, please contact Career Services or the Public Service Program as travel subsidies may be available to offset costs to attend. For information on registration and event details, please refer to the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair website.
Southern California’s Public Interest / Public Sector Career Day
Southern California’s Public Interest / Public Sector Career Day (PICD) is one of the largest regional recruitment events in the country with more than 130 employers from private-public interest firms, public interest / civil legal aid agencies, social justice nonprofit organizations, and government agencies participating to recruit law students for summer law clerk programs and other year-round opportunities.
PICD is sponsored by the Southern California law schools – California Western, Chapman, La Verne, Loyola, Pepperdine, Southwestern, Thomas Jefferson, UCI, UCLA, University of San Diego and USC Gould School of Law.
PICD 2021 will take place on Saturday, February 20, 2021. All law students and alumni are welcome to participate in PICD. However, the formal interview component is only available to law students enrolled at a sponsoring law school. For individualized assistance and advice on how to participate in PICD 2021, please contact Southwestern’s Career Services to request an appointment with your assigned Career Services advisor.
Trina Grillo Public Interest and Social Justice Retreat
Each spring, in partnership with a consortium of the Rocky Mountain / West Coast law schools, Southwestern co-sponsors a weekend retreat for practitioners, students, and academics to join together to discuss challenges to social justice lawyering and to provide training opportunities for public interest law students. The retreat embodies the aspirations of Trina Grillo (1948-1996), a former professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law and Santa Clara Law School, who was a dedicated social justice activist advocating against injustice, in its many forms, and toward diversity and equality. The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) and Consortium Law Schools established the Trina Grillo Public Interest and Social Justice Law Retreat to honor her memory.
The Retreat offers public-interest minded law students an opportunity to break the isolation often experienced on respective campuses by meeting and networking with other students from around the West Coast. The Retreat provides a unique opportunity for public interest-oriented law students, faculty, staff, and practitioners to exchange substantive viewpoints, explore career opportunities and formulate strategies for social justice.
Registration is open only to students at a consortium school. Please contact the Public Service Program for registration instructions, travel, and lodging information.
Consortium Law Schools
- Golden Gate University School of Law
- Santa Clara University School of Law
- Southwestern Law School
- Stanford Law School
- UC Berkeley School of Law
- UC Hastings College of Law
- UC Irvine School of Law
- UCLA School of Law
- University of Nevada, Las Vegas - William S. Boyd School of Law
- University of San Francisco School of Law
- University of Southern California School of Law
- University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
- University of Washington School of Law
Public Service Career Assistance for Recent Graduates
Individualized support and career resources are available to recent graduates interested in continued development of public interest / public service work experience after graduation and as part of longer-term career planning and job search strategies in public service.
Public Service Graduate Program
Southwestern’s Public Service Graduate Program (PSGP) provides stipends to qualifying recent graduates seeking term-limited post-bar clerkships with eligible public interest and/or public service agencies that cannot offer compensation for post-bar law clerks. PSGP stipends are intended to help recent graduates gain valuable experience – critical to employment in the public sector – while also assisting legal services organizations and agencies with responding to the unmet legal needs of underserved communities.
Los Angeles Incubator Consortium
Co-sponsored by Southwestern, the Los Angeles Incubator Consortium (LAIC) is a 12-month attorney development and support program for recent graduates / 0-5-year attorneys who want to launch solo practice. Participants receive training and mentorship from local legal aid organizations, the Los Angeles Law Library, an Attorney Development Director and LAIC alumni in building sustainable practices catering to “modest means” clients. Los Angeles County’s geographic area and vast need for legal services necessitate a collaborative effort to build an effective legal service delivery model serving modest means individuals that may not qualify for free civil legal aid.
For individualized assistance and advice on how to apply to the Public Service Graduate Program or the Los Angeles Incubator Consortium, please contact Southwestern’s Career Services to request an appointment with your assigned Career Services advisor.