Public Interest Funding Opportunities
RWU Law understands the financial challenges of pursuing a public interest career. We are here to help you whether you want to be a full-time public interest lawyer or a private sector attorney doing pro bono work. We have financial programs designed to help you come to RWU School of Law (Public Interest Scholarships), to help you gain public interest experience through unpaid summer internships while you are here (Public Interest Summer Stipend Program), and to enable you to afford to take a public interest job when you leave (Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program). We also subscribe to organizations that provide a range of funding and job opportunities: www.PSJD.org and www.equaljusticeworks.org.
Public Interest Scholarships are awarded to students who have shown a strong commitment to public interest law and a willingness to enter into public interest law after graduation. These scholarships are awarded at the time of admission.
Summer Stipend Program
Public interest summer internships are invaluable opportunities to gain experience, make contacts and build upon your commitment to public interest. Because many public interest opportunities are unpaid, students can apply for a summer stipend through the Office of Career Development's competitive Public Interest Stipend Program. Historically, twenty-five to thirty stipends are awarded each year. Stipends have allowed students to work for employers such as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the Bronx Defenders, and South Coastal Counties Legal Services, and in locations as far and wide as Ghana, Nepal, Alaska, and Mississippi.
RWU Law's Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program (PILRAP) was created in 2008 and is designed to provide support in the form of forgivable loans to our graduates pursuing careers representing low-income clients in non-profit offices. PILRAP recipients may receive up to $4,000 per year for a total of $15,000. The application process is simple and requires minimal documentation. To date, every single eligible applicant who has been in qualifying employment and repayment status has received funding! Graduates may apply the spring after they graduate. Whether or not students qualify for PILRAP, loan repayment assistance may also be available through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, enacted in 2008 (information is available through the Equal Justice Works at http://www.equaljusticeworks.org/ed-debt or through www.askheatherjarvis.com).
The RWU Law Center for Justice Fellowship is open to only RWU Law graduates and employs recent graduates of Roger Williams University School of Law as staff attorneys for a two-year fellowship period.
Students may also apply for highly competitive post-graduate public interest fellowships sponsored by many different organizations. The most well-known programs are the Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program and the Skadden Fellowship Program. These programs require students to begin planning in the spring of their second year as applications are generally due in September and require a substantial project proposal, several recommendations, etc. If you would like to explore this possibility, feel free to make an appointment with someone in the Feinstein Center and we can help you plan.