Summer Funding

Many Notre Dame 1Ls and 2Ls take unpaid summer positions with public service employers, judges, government agencies, and other non-profits. Fortunately, there are many summer funding options available to you, both inside and outside of Notre Dame, and I am going to give you a comprehensive overview of all of those resources here.

If you are reading this now and are worried that you are behind in your search for summer funding, you’re not. Many applications for summer funding are due in March and April. I only post it now because our office is getting a few questions about it, it is always a good idea to plan ahead, and I want you to have a resource at your fingertips when you do start turning your attention to summer funding.

Summer Funding Sources Outside of Notre Dame

PSJD’s List

Take a look at PSJD’s list of summer funding sources and paid internship programs. This list contains a wide variety of summer funding resources from all around the U.S. such as:

-The Massachusetts Bar Foundation‘s Legal Fellowship Intern Program, which awards $6000 stipends to law students working for non-profit organizations providing civil legal services to low-income clients in Massachusetts. The 2020 application is due in March.

Pennsylvania Legal Aid, Inc. – Martin Luther King Internship and Fellowship Program

-The Koch Student Internship Program, which awards $450 weekly stipends over ten weeks and professional education where students learn from leading policy experts every week to law students who are passionate about free societies and want to work to improve people’s lives. Note, your application has the best chance of advancing for this program if you apply by December.

-The Ms. JD summer public interest scholarship, which awards funding to young, successful 2L women who have already demonstrated leadership potential.

-The Peggy Browning Fund Fellowship, which awards $5000 to law students working for labor-related organizations.

Public Citizen’s essay competition, which awards $5000 to the top essay, regardless of where the students is working. The deadline is in April.

-The Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) offers stipends of up to $6000 for students working in public interest positions in Illinois and predominantly in Chicago. These get allocated fast so if you’re interested, apply this week.

…and many more. If you are planning to work in an unpaid position this summer, be sure to check out this list. It is by far the best summer funding resource out there.

Paid Public Interest Opportunities

Some public interest organizations and government agencies actually do have the funds to pay summer interns. These include:

Institute for Justice Dave Kennedy Fellowship, which pays summer interns $7000 over 10 weeks.

The Pacific Legal Foundation, which pays summer interns $14 an hour.

The DOJ’s Summer Law Intern Program. The application is due on labor day so this opportunity has passed for this year but if you wish to apply next year, plan to apply by labor day.

The New York County District Attorney’s Office Law School Summer Internship pays interns a $840/week stipend.

The New York City Law Department pays interns a $750/week stipend and offers free housing.

The Oregon Department of Justice pays interns.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) pays interns $16/hr.  I met with the CTA a couple of years ago and blogged about it so head to my blog post to learn more about what they are looking for in summer interns.

This list is not exhaustive. Other government and public interest opportunities pay as well. PSJD tracks these opportunities.

Bar Associations

An often overlooked source of summer funding is bar associations. Many cities, states, and even the ABA have summer funding resources available to law students. I already listed one example, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation’s  stipend, above. Below are just a few additional examples of the many bar foundation stipends that are available.

The ABA offers the Janet D. Steiger fellowship, a $6000 stipend to students working in the consumer protection and antitrust departments of state Offices of Attorneys General and other governmental offices throughout the US.

The Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago Area Law Foundation is offering a Summer Fellowship with a $5000 stipend to students working at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. The application deadline is February 15.

The ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty awards a $3,500 stipend to three law school students who spend the summer months working for a bar association or legal services program designed to prevent homelessness or assist homeless or indigent clients or their advocates. The deadline is March 27.

The New York State Bar Association offers Minority Fellowships in Environmental Law, awarding $7500 to law students working on environmental cases for government or not-for-profit law offices. The deadline is in October.

Students working for public interest organizations in New Jersey can apply for the New Jersey Summer Public Interest Legal Intern Program, which pays rising 2Ls $550/week and rising 3Ls $750/week.

The Mecklenburg County Bar Association provides $3500 stipends to students working in legal internships in Charlotte, North Carolina. The deadline is March 2nd.

The Women Lawyers’ Association of Los Angeles provides grants of up to $5,000 to law students for projects that make governmental and social services agencies more accessible and responsive to individuals or groups whose needs are not adequately met.

The South Asian Bar Association of Washington DC funds student internships with public interest organizations working for the benefit of the South Asian community and the metropolitan D.C. area. The application is due March 30, 2018. 

Once you have a sense of where you will be working, be sure to check the websites of both the state and the city bar association in the geographic area where you will be spending your summer for summer funding opportunities.

Equal Justice Works Summer Funding0

Every summer, several students take advantage of Americorps JD education awards, which are $1,000 vouchers applied to student loans for students spending the summer in a qualifying internship at a non-profit, public interest organization.

EJW also has a  Rural Summer Legal Corps program, which awards $5000 stipends and several hours of training to students working for legal aid offices in rural regions of the country.

And EJW has a relatively new Crime Victims Justice Corps through which law students work alongside Fellows during the summer at legal services organizations to help provide civil legal services to address issues arising from crime victimization, including family law, education, and employment, as well as providing outreach and training to community partners. Law students are required to serve for a period of eight to ten weeks and earn a stipend upon successful completion of service.

In 2020, Equal Justice Works launched their new Student Fellowship program: the Immigration Summer Legal Corps (ISLC). Student Fellows will spend eight-to-ten weeks hosted at legal services organizations for 300 hours and receive $5,000 for serving 300 hours during the summer of 2020.

Summer Funding Resources for A Specific Employer

The Blackstone Legal Fellowship is popular among Notre Dame law students every year. It awards a $6300 stipend to prepare Christian law students for careers marked by integrity, excellence, and leadership. Recipients work at a variety of organizations including governmental entities, boutique law firms, NGOs, and non-profits, among others.

The Jack Carey Scholarship, Cook County Public Defenders Association awards $2500 stipends to 2Ls working for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office.

The ABA Judicial Intern Opportunity Program awards $2000 stipends to  first- or second-year minority and/or financially disadvantaged law students who want to work for a judge in one of the participating cities. The application deadline is January 11.

The Emory Summer Child Advocacy Program provides $5000 stipends and supervised internships with hands-on learning opportunities in child advocacy organizations in Georgia.

The Michigan Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Fellowship does not award a stipend but provides travel costs and a summer job to a great training opportunity for students working to advance child welfare.

The Robert Masur fellowship in Civil Liberties is open to first-year law students who intend to carry out significant activities during the summer (in between their first and second year) in the areas of civil rights and/or civil liberties. Fellows each receive a $2,000 honorarium. Applications are due on April 10.

Notre Dame Summer Funding Resources

In this section, I am going to point out opportunities that are available exclusively to Notre Dame students.

Equal Justice America offers fellowships for up to $4000 for students working for legal aid organizations providing direct assistance to the poor. This fellowship is not administered by Notre Dame but I mention it here because EJA has funds allocated specifically for Notre Dame students. Please note that EJA does consider all of the funding you will have when making awards, including federal work study funding.

Professor Rick Garnett is the director of the Church, State & Society Program, which runs the Church, State & Society Fellowships. This program awards $8000-$10,000 to students working for religious institutions. If you have any questions, or want to discuss a placement possibility, please contact Jonathan Hannah at

Student organizations at the law school and the Women’s Legal Forum, in particular, award multiple stipends to students, in amounts varying from $250 to $2500. Students are only eligible for WLF awards if they have volunteered at a specific number of WLF events so if you’re interested in applying for these awards, contact WLF and get involved now. The CDO will send an email in March announcing the existence of these awards and soliciting applications. 

Notre Dame’s Financial Aid office allocates Summer Federal Work Study  slots to the law school and the CDO administers Law School Funding. The CDO will host a lunchtime program on these two summer funding resources in the spring so please refrain from emailing the CDO with any questions about these resources until after that program. (If you are in London, DC, or abroad elsewhere, the CDO will send a separate email to you about these resources.)

We do not begin accepting paperwork for these programs until late January/early February after we have hosted the lunchtime program.

Planning your summer and figuring out how you will pay for it will be easier the sooner you get started. Of course, you cannot plan to fund a summer job that you do not have yet so please turn to the CDO for advice on your summer job search. You can schedule a phone or skype appointment while you are away from campus or shoot us an email.

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