I hope you’re enjoying this special issue of UCUpdates focusing on recent graduates and students who have made public interest law their career choice. Our colleagues highlighted in this edition of UCUpdates are zealous public interest advocates, who as you can read, reflect strongly on the values taught and lessons learned in and out of the classroom. Each year, about 1/3 of each graduating class chooses a career advocating for just causes or working within federal, state, or local governments. Perhaps that’s one reason why UC Law was named one of the top ten ‘public interest law schools’ in a recent publication.
Which brings me to what can you do with $625? Given the important impact these students and graduates make on their communities, it might come as a surprise to you that most summer public interest and government jobs for law students are unpaid. For 12 years, the College of Law has funded public interest minded students’ summer work through fellowships established through a series of generous gifts to the College of Law and supplemented with annual fundraising events like Race Judicata and Spirit of the Law, and the Partnership for Public Service, which you’ll learn more about below. Each year, the College of Law maximizes $625 per student of donated public interest funding with federal work study funds. As a result, more than 340 students have provided thousands of hours of pro bono service for public interest and government organizations locally, regionally and nationally. By providing each student a modest living wage, these students are able to defray some of their costs each summer while gaining valuable experience during their law school years.
To raise the necessary public interest funding each year, the student led Public Interest Law Group initiates its own internal fund drive called the Partnership for Public Service, or PPS. PPS is built on the simple premise that if each of us can give one day’s salary, we can make a difference and fund students who accept unpaid opportunities. This year’s PPS drive, April 6th – 17th, is tasked with funding over 60 students who will accept unpaid opportunities working in our community. To insure our success, we’d like to offer the opportunity up to all our graduates to participate in this year’s effort. You can make a difference, and in turn, help them make a difference in communities across the country.
As you read the profiles of recent graduates and current students in this special edition of UCUpdates, I hope you will continue to be as proud of the students graduating from our law school as I am and hope you’ll consider supporting their important work in and out of the classroom.
Sean L. Rhiney, Esq.
Public Interest Coordinator & Counselor
Center for Professional Development
In my six years as the College of Law’s Public Service Coordinator, I remain impressed with the dedication, tenacity and passion with which students choosing public interest enter our profession and ultimately accept these rewarding opportunities in law, and like you, wish to see them achieve their goals.