Funding Public Interest
The Law school encourages pro bono involvement and works actively to provide and facilitate funding for public interest summer jobs. We are also committed to helping those students interested in working in public interest settings to secure funding which will enable them to do so. Again, it is important for students to keep in mind that the single most important factor public interest organizations look for in their background is a demonstrated commitment to public service. Therefore, involvement in pro bono activities actually enhances your chance of getting paid positions, either during the academic year, in the summer, or after graduation. Below are examples of how students obtained compensation in the past:
In addition to the work/study positions eligible students can obtain on campus, these funds are also available to support work in public interest organizations. The agency must pay a matching fee for work/study students to be assigned.
Grants, Fellowships and Scholarships
The most visible grant program is the APIL summer stipend program. Through a variety of activities, including the Spring Auction, APIL raises funds to support students in full time public interest positions during the summer. The number of stipends varies based on the funds available and the number and quality of the applications. The 2013 APIL Summer Stipend Application is available here. The deadline for application submission is Thursday, March 28th at 1:00 pm.
Several regional funding opportunities are also worth pursuing. The New Jersey Summer Public Interest Legal Intern Fellowship Program is one, and it funds summer employment in public interest organizations throughout the State.
Pennsylvania Legal Services offers the Martin Luther King, Jr. Summer Internship Program, which awards paid legal internships to first and second year law students to participate in legal services work in programs across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Peggy Browning Fund awards 31 grants to first and second year law students from eligible institutions; to work in labor related organizations. Equal Justice Works provides 315 law students with the opportunity to earn a $1,000 education award voucher for spending the summer in a qualifying internship at a non-profit, public interest organization. Equal Justice Works awards can be combined with other funding. One of the best ways to fund postgraduate public interest employment is through fellowship programs. Application dates are usually in the first semester and students returning for their third year of law school should consider applying at that time. Rutgers students have been successful in receiving Independence Foundation grants and Equal Justice Foundation grants in recent years.
Perhaps the best way to start your fellowship search is by going to PSLawNet, which contains extensive information about fellowships nationwide, and also includes a deadline calendar.
Contact the Assistant Dean for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs for further information on these and other programs.
Loan Repayment Assistance Program
In 2003, Rutgers law students voted overwhelmingly in favor of establishing a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) to provide financial assistance to help defray law school debt obligations for law school graduates choosing lower paid public interest and public service careers.
Over 80 law schools now have LRAP's, including the other two New Jersey law schools, Rutgers-Newark and Seton Hall, and other area law schools including Temple University, Villanova University, and University of Pennsylvania. Over 25 of those offering LRAP programs are state law schools.
All graduates from the Class of 2004 and all succeeding classes are eligible if the following criteria are met:
1. the graduate is employed in a law- related public interest position
2. the graduate has an income below the salary cap set annually by the LRAP Advisory Committee ("Committee")
3. the graduate is actively paying on the loan
In 2012, that income level is $55,000 for a single filer and $87,500 for joint filers.
Rutgers-Camden uses a broad definition of public interest. All graduates employed in full-time positions with legal services and other non-profit legal services organizations, and with local, county, state or federal governmental entities are eligible for our LRAP.
The LRAP application, Employer Certification, and Lender Verifications are due by April 17, 2013 (do not fax).
A judicial clerkship is not qualifying employment, as it is short term and often leads to high paying positions. However, if after the completion of the clerkship, the graduate accepts employment in the public interest sector, they are encouraged to apply for LRAP. The salary cap will be determined annually by the Committee, which includes student, faculty and staff representatives. All eligible applicants will receive a proportional share of the funds available in each awarding cycle. The LRAP program intends to contribute between 15-25% of the graduates' annual debt payment, and thus far has been able to exceed that amount.
A refundable student fee charged on each term bill will fund the LRAP. This fee is $25/semester for full-time students, $18.75/semester for part-time students. Other university funds have already been committed, and further funding is being sought.