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Summer Public Interest Fellowships


The Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program provides financial support for law students who spend their summers working in the public interest. The program is intended to:

  • Help law students serve the public interest;
  • Provide for financial need; and
  • Acquire skills and experience that will widen their career opportunities.

All fellowship recipients will work full-time (30 hours per week) for at least ten weeks during the summer of 2014 under the supervision of an attorney at the site of the placement.

Some of the fellowships are supported through Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) and provide financial support for students who serve in unpaid summer internships in legal services or similar organizations that provide direct legal services to low-income and underserved clients in Pennsylvania. Other fellowships are funded through the efforts of the Public Interest Law Association and are not geographically restricted.


Fellowship recipients will receive approximately $3,000.00 for the ten-week summer placement.  Each recipient will be responsible for the tax and financial aid implications of her/his award. The number of fellowships available may vary from year to year. 

Fellows will not receive academic credit for internships supported by the fellowships. Fellows may not receive additional payment from the placement organization for work supported by the fellowship.

Fellowship Program Requirements


Applicants must be Duquesne Law School students in good standing (not on probation) who will also be students at Duquesne School of Law in Fall 2014.

Fellowship recipients must be prepared to work for ten consecutive weeks during the summer. Due to the time commitment required in the fellowship-supported internships, students who are participating in summer study abroad programs are not eligible for Summer Public Interest Fellowships. In addition, students who have any other commitments that would interfere materially with a ten-week schedule are not eligible.

Obtaining a Qualifying Placement

Each applicant is responsible for securing her/his own placement prior to the application deadline. Prospective applicants must contact potential placement sites—e.g., legal services organization offices—directly to inquire about summer internship openings and to initiate and comply with any screening or selection procedures established by the placement organizations. Details of the placement and confirmation from the placement organization must be included in the fellowship application.

Qualifying Placements

The following is a description of eligible placement sites:

1) Pennsylvania legal services organizations providing direct client representation in civil matters

See the Appendix to these materials for an illustrative, non-exclusive list of legal services organizations and other Pennsylvania organizations that may offer qualifying summer placements. The list is for informational purposes only and is not an indication that any organization will in fact have an internship available. Interested students should contact the sites directly. Students are advised to make inquiries as soon as possible and preferably before the beginning of 2012. Any student interested in a placement at an organization that is not on the list should consult with Prof. McCants Lewis or Dean Kwisnek.

2) Duquesne Family Law Clinic

In Summer 2014, between four and six fellowships are earmarked for students who agree to work in the School of Law's summer Family Law Clinic. These fellows will work in the Family Division of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, under the supervision of the Clinic’s staff attorneys. The summer clinic will operate for 10 weeks, from June 2 through August 8, 2014. Only those students who are eligible to be certified under Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rule 321* will be placed in Family Law Clinic. Students who are interested in the Family Law Clinic placement should contact Prof. McCants Lewis or 412-396-1686.

3) Public Interest Law Association (PILA) fellowships

Summer internships supported by PILA-funded fellowships may be served in placements anywhere in the United States that provide representation in civil matters or criminal matters.

Summary of Fellowship Requirements

  1. Obtain a placement with a qualifying legal services organization, nonprofit or government organization that provides direct legal services to low-income and under-served populations.
  2. Provide a letter of confirmation from authorized personnel at the placement
  3. Agree to attend a mandatory day-long fellowship orientation (week of 5/19/2014 - specific date to be confirmed).
  4. Agree to submit such weekly, interim, or final internship reports as the Law School may require.
  5. Agree to submit, by the deadline, a 5 page report describing, analyzing and reflecting on her/his summer internship experiences.
  6. Agree to forfeit any unpaid part of the stipend that may be due if the fellow is dismissed from the law school during the period of the internship.
  7. Agree to participate in a Law School public information forum to discuss summer fellowship experiences.
  8. Agree to comply with all terms and conditions established by the placement organization.
  9. If a recipient of a PILA Award, agree to volunteer at least 10 hours to PILA fundraising events, such as the annual book sale, pie sale, and silent auction.

Application Process

Submit the completed 2014 SPIF application and all additional required materials on or before February 7, 2014.

Questions should be addressed to Prof. McCants Lewis, Duquesne Law Clinic at 412.396.1686.

Selection Process

Only timely, complete applications will be considered. Applications will be considered by a Summer Public Interest Fellowship Committee approved by the Dean, and the Committee will have sole discretion to make awards. Among the factors that the Committee will consider are: the extent and history of the student’s commitment to public interest work at the Law School, in the community, and elsewhere; the nature of the proposed placement; and the applicant’s academic record.

Accepting a fellowship award is considered a commitment by you to participate in that placement. If you are not genuinely interested in a placement, please do not accept the award — it is unfair to your fellow students who have a genuine interest in public service but who are not awarded a fellowship because of the limited funds available for disbursement. Therefore, students selected for fellowship awards will be required to submit a written acceptance that acknowledges their commitment to accept the fellowship. If you accept a fellowship award and thereafter fail to honor that obligation, you will forfeit the right to be selected for a fellowship award in the future.


*Rule 321 provides for certification as a “Certified Legal Intern” of any student who has completed the equivalent of 3 semesters (full-time) at an accredited law school.  Four semesters in the part-time program (evening division) are the equivalent of 3 full-time semesters. (return to section)