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Public Interest Law

Lawyers play an important part in promoting the public interest and protecting the rights of underrepresented populations. Lawyers have been leaders in many social movements including those involving civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT issues, disability rights, and many more.

Lawyers working to promote social justice are employed in many settings. Some lawyers work in government agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where they investigate alleged cases of discriminatory behavior. Some lawyers work in the nonprofit sector to promote the interests of certain groups such as ProKids and ProSeniors here in Cincinnati. Other lawyers work in corporations or other organizations to help promote diversity or other social issues within those organizations.


You build a foundation in public interest law by studying Constitutional Law in your first year. The classes listed below offer you more advanced study in this area. If you are interested in public interest law, you may also be interested in many of the classes, clinics, institutes, and other learning opportunities discussed in the International Law and Criminal Law courses of study.

  • American Legal History
  • Civil Rights Litigation
  • Crimmigration
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Current Problems in International Women's Human Rights
  • Disability Law
  • Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic
  • Education Law
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Family Law
  • Feminist Jurisprudence
  • First Amendment Seminar
  • Food, Drug and Safety Laws
  • Gender and the Law
  • Human Rights Seminar
  • Immigration Law and Policy
  • Representation of Women: Law, Literature, and Gender
  • Tax Policy

Sample Student Schedules

Linked here are two samples of student schedules of fictitious students who are interested in public interest law. These are designed to give some idea of the many ways courses can be woven into a curriculum designed to build your knowledge of public interest and other areas of the law, prepare you to take a bar exam, and help you acquire professional skills. Unlike some other areas of the law, this one does not require courses to be taken in a specific sequence. You can create many wonderful schedules that include these courses. These two are merely samples that, frankly, should only be used to spur your ideas about the best curriculum for you. You may also want to discuss your scheduling choices with professors, practitioners, upper-level students, and Dean Oliver. Please remember that you must ensure that your schedule will meet all the requirements for graduation. Also remember that the classes listed in these sample schedules may not be offered in the particular semester shown here while you are in law school and that the number of credits may vary from year to year.

Jean Schoor – Student interested in working in a nonprofit agency
Paul Tagen – Student interested in working for a governmental agency

Other Student Learning Opportunities

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Centers and Institutes


Joint Degree Programs

Other Student Activities

Student Organizations — sampling

* See complete list of student organizations

Volunteer Opportunities — sampling

* Get more information about volunteer opportunities


Emily Ming-Sue Houh
Gustavus Henry Wald Professor of Law

Ann Hubbard
Professor of Law

Kristin Kalsem
Professor of Law

Bert B. Lockwood
Distinguished Service Professor of Law and
Director, Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights

Betsy Malloy
Andrew Katsanis Professor of Law

Kenyatta Mickles
Assistant Professor of Clinical Law

Ronna Greff Schneider
Professor of Law

Yolanda Vazquez
Assistant Professor of Law

Verna L. Williams
Professor of Law

Recent Student Stories

Chelsea Brint '13. The Ohio State Bar Association recently selected Chelsea Brint as one of the first two recipients of the inaugural Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Fellowship. The fellowship was designed to honor Chief Justice Moyer’s commitments to improving access to courts, advancing civility and ethics, working with national and international organizations to promote the rule of law, and promoting civic education. With her strong interest in international human rights law, Brint was able to merge her interests and fellowship with a summer internship focusing on this issue. (Read more)

Brian Howe '10. Brian Howe, Class of 2010, already knows what he wants to do when he graduates in 2010—practice public interest law. Being involved with the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) has enabled Howe to experience what it feels like to provide legal assistance to someone who couldn't otherwise afford it. . . . Howe enjoys public service so much that he has made it a point to contribute to public interest efforts while at the law school. (Read more)

Jerrod Fussnecker '09 and Chris Kaiser '09. As active participants in the College of Law’s Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic, Jerrod Fussnecker and Chris Kaiser were outraged when they learned that the YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter had not received its expected funding from the City of Cincinnati. They took it upon themselves to go directly to a City Council Finance Hearing to argue for restored funding. (Read more)

Alumni Careers

Some places our graduates have worked include:

  • Amnesty International
  • Cincinnati Legal Aid
  • Civil Rights – United States Department Of Justice
  • Ohio Attorney General’s Office
  • ProKids

Elizabeth Tull '07. Tull is a staff attorney with Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio. She was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship upon graduation. (Read more)

Josh Crabtree '02. By the end of his time at the College of Law, Joshua Crabtree '03 convinced himself to try corporate law for a while. Upon graduating, he did just that, working for Jones Day in Atlanta, a large firm at which he had previously worked as a summer associate. After some time, however, Crabtree returned to the Cincinnati area and refocused his career here. Crabtree is the managing attorney with the Children's Law Center. A former grant recipient, his role with CLC also includes selecting and hiring UC Law students each summer. (Read more)

Tracy Cook '90. Tracy Cook '90 was born and raised in Cincinnati, growing up locally before attending UC as an undergraduate and then the College of Law. After earning a degree in political science with a minor in fine art in 1987, Cook began at the College of Law that fall. (Read More)

Rhonda Moore '87. Rhonda Moore ’87 is an alumna who can speak about effectively navigating the dual legal worlds of the public and private sector. As a partner in a local law firm to her current role as executive director of a non-profit organization, Moore’s professional experiences have run the gamut. (Read more)

Other Resources