Membership in the legal profession carries with it inherent commitments to equal justice and public service. The Pro Bono and Public Interest Program, along with the law school’s clinical programs and externships and the Marshall-Brennan Fellowship, offer opportunities to weave service into every law school experience. Our goal is to help students develop the skills and inclination to perform service throughout their careers.
Students can become involved in pro bono projects as early as their first year in law school. All law school projects are designed to enhance substantive knowledge and skills and professional networks while also serving unmet legal needs in the community. Through pro bono and public interest involvement, Rutgers law students have the opportunity to work with lawyers, the courts and the public, and to share in the satisfaction of helping clients who have nowhere else to turn. Hallmarks of all projects include comprehensive training and ongoing supervision.
Our in-house projects and external opportunities have been developed in response to community needs, educational value and student interest. If you have an idea for a new pro bono project, please share it with us.
The Law School's Associate Dean for Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs and the other Pro Bono Program professionals:
- develop and run pro bono projects;
- develop and run public interest programs;
- manage the law school’s loan repayment program and educate students about additional loan repayment and forgiveness options;
- participate in the law school Professionalism Program ;
- support the Association for Public Interest Law (APIL), with particular emphasis on the annual Public Interest Auctions, which provide funding for summer public interest fellowships;
- support additional student-led public service activities;
- support public sector career and fellowship efforts;
- organize incoming student orientation and Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day projects;
- and develop resources and new initiatives for Rutgers students.
The Associate Dean chairs an Advisory Committee that includes student leaders, the Directors of the Clinical and Externship Programs, selected faculty members and community representatives; the Committee provides guidance for pro bono and public interest activities at the law school. The Pro Bono professionals also collaborate with their counterparts at the other Delaware Valley law schools to strategize jointly and to provide inter-law school opportunities (e.g., leadership training and other collaborations such as the Eastern District PA Prisoner Re-entry Project, public interest job fairs, summer public interest enrichment programs, etc.) for Rutgers students.
The Program expanded dramatically in scope and quality under the leadership of former Dean Eve Biskind Klothen, who served from 2002 to 2013. Representative national and professional honors have included the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Father Robert Drinan Award for Outstanding Contributions to Pro Bono and Public Service (to Eve Biskind Klothen) in 2009; the Exemplary Public Service Award for a Student Organization from Equal Justice Works (to APIL's Voters Rights Pro Bono Project) in 2009; and the Chancellor's Award for Academic Civic Engagement (to Eve Biskind Klothen and Professor Joanne Gottesman, for Citizenship Rutgers Pro Bono Project) in 2013. The Program thrives with support from the courts, the bar, alumni, volunteer lawyers, and local legal services and public interest organizations and through collaborations with other law schools.
In 2015, the Law School announced the Maida Public Interest Scholars Program, which each year funds one post-graduate public interest fellowship and approximately 40 summer fellowships at public interest legal organizations throughout the state of New Jersey and beyond. The Maidas’ $1 million gift elevated Rutgers Law School and its already outstanding program into the very top echelon of public law schools for support of public interest lawyering.