Public Interest Mentoring Program

The peers I met in my mentor group have become some of my best friends, and the mentors have become an important and consistent part of my personal and professional support system. I don’t know how I would have navigated my first year without them! I’m looking forward to continuing to build connections and community at SLS as a PI Mentor for incoming students.

Kelsey Dunn, JD '24

Overview

The Levin Center deeply values a strong public interest community and cultivates close relationships with our faculty, students, and alumni. From the moment our first-year and transfer law students arrive on campus, we seek to connect those pursuing public interest careers with upper-class students, faculty mentors, and alumni mentors to provide guidance and support.

We offer a formal mentoring program that matches first-year law students to student mentors based on shared practice interests. These small groups might meet for dinner off-campus, coffee on campus, or take a hike to the Dish while they chat about adjusting to law school, the 1L summer job search, or the challenges of securing entry-level public interest jobs. Registration for this program begins in the Fall quarter shortly after 1L Orientation.

Our National Public Interest Alumni Network consists of alumni practicing in a wide variety of fields and practice settings who are eager to speak with other Stanford Law School students and graduates. Students and alumni may contact a Levin Center advisor for a customized list of alumni mentors practicing in your preferred geographic market(s), substantive area(s), and practice setting(s).

Student Mentors

Each year, Stanford Law School names as Public Interest Fellows those third-year students who have a history of public service, provide leadership within the law school, and are committed to beginning their careers as lawyers in the public service. The Fellows Program exists to create a community of support for the cohort of students seeking post-graduate public interest jobs during their third-year or post-clerkship and assist them in that endeavor. Levin Center staff will provide ongoing tailored career development support to the Fellows, including trainings, panels, and workshops to prepare students for public interest legal careers; and opportunities for intensive mentorship and guidance from staff, alumni and other leading practitioners.

Starting in the 2018-2019 school year, we welcomed our first class of Public Interest Associates. PI Associates are third-year Stanford Law School students who are committed to pursuing careers in public service later in their careers after an initial stint in the private sector. The Associates Program exists to support a cohort of students seeking to remain engaged in public service while planning to start their careers in the private sector. Levin Center staff provides targeted workshops on how to transition out of firms, how to choose firms with strong pro bono service cultures, and other specialized programs for this cohort. The Associates also serve in leadership roles within the public interest community at Stanford Law School.

Both PI Fellows and PI Associates also serve an advisory body to the Levin Center staff, and are expected to:

  • Promote public interest/public sector work at the Law School,
  • Provide ongoing assistance during the academic year to Center staff on public interest programming and events for the Law School community,
  • Serve as mentors to incoming first-year students and transfer students, and
  • Give input to the administration and faculty on internal law school policies that impact public interest and public service.

Public Interest Fellows and Associates are available to speak with prospective law students.  Please review their bios below and contact Levin Center staff if you would like to be connected to one of them.

We also have 2L Public Interest Mentors, who volunteer to mentor incoming first-year students. Our 2L students are the most active on campus as they lead most of the student organizations and journals. Many of these students will go on to serve as Public Interest Fellows and Associates during their 3L year.

Faculty Mentors

Stanford Law faculty distinguish themselves not only in their legal work and scholarship, but also in their accessibility and zeal for working with students. Faculty members can provide students with specialized guidance in immigrants’ rights, public policy, government, criminal law, labor law, international law, education law, and other practice areas. Many of them also participate in our special mentoring program for first-year students. This program creates small groups of first-year students and matches them with a Public Interest Fellow. The Fellows will invite faculty to join some of the group meetings.

Brown bag lunch discussions with faculty mentors on specific topics such as curricular advice or the summer job search are scheduled throughout the year as are social events to provide informal opportunities for students, faculty, and administrators to get to know one another.

Alumni Mentors

Many Stanford Law alumni are happy to talk to students about their work. Public interest alumni, particularly recent graduates and younger professionals, can identify with the excitement and struggles students feel in committing to the public service path. They stand as proof that Stanford Law School graduates succeed in finding jobs congruent with their passions and develop satisfying, meaningful careers as public interest lawyers.

Our National Public Interest Alumni Network has identified almost 800 public interest practitioners across the country that can provide mentoring to public interest students. Students and alumni can request to speak to alumni working in specific geographic regions, practice areas, or from similar backgrounds to ask questions about career planning, fellowship and clerkship applications, and their law school experiences. Please contact a Levin Center advisor for a curated list of public interest alumni mentors.

The Levin Center also holds receptions each summer that bring public interest alumni, students, and new admits together in major metropolitan areas across the country. The Office of Alumni Relations also sponsors many events for alumni, to which students are often invited. For example, Alumni Weekend takes place every year during the fall and always draws a lot of public interest alumni. Public interest-oriented students should take advantage of this great networking opportunity by attending a panel, dinner or reception. Contact the Office of Alumni Relations for more information and to find out which events are open to students.