Stanford provides academic, summer and post-graduate financial assistance to students committed to public interest practice. This reflects our institutional commitment to ensuring equal access to the legal system. It also recognizes the significant disparity in pay between private and public interest practice.
All Stanford law students who qualify for financial assistance are guaranteed to receive a summer stipend if they work at a government agency or non-profit in a law-related endeavor designed to further the public interest. First-year students receive $5,000 grants and second-year students who are doing a second summer in public interest law receive $7,500 grants. Joint-degree and JSD students may participate for a maximum of three summers.
- 2015 Summer Funding Guidelines
- 2015 Supplemental International Summer Funding Application Guidelines
- 2015 Summer Funding Forms
Frequently Asked Questions
Stanford Law School has made a strong commitment to ensuring our students and our alumni can pursue careers in public interest law. Our Summer Public Interest Funding Program provides $5,000-$7,500 grants to students with financial need who intern at a nonprofit organization or governmental agency in a law-related endeavor designed to further the public interest. The Law School expects students to work full-time for at least 10 weeks, but exceptions can be made for students unable to work that amount (which will mean a pro-rated grant). Some private public interest firms may also be eligible after review by Levin Center staff. Academic research (i.e., serving as a research assistant to a faculty member) and judicial externships are not eligible for these grants. Interning with a law school clinical program is considered equivalent to interning for a nonprofit organization. Most students receive $5,000 grants, though second-year JD students who worked in public service during their first-year summer will receive $7,500. For purposes of the enhanced 2L grant, judicial externships count as public service employers. Each year more than 100 students participated in this program.
Funding for this program is provided by the Law School and its Federal Work-Study funds. While many upper-class students continue to refer to this program as "SPILF funding," the Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation no longer supports the summer funding program.
The Financial Aid office determines whether students are eligible to participate. If you qualify for the full Perkins loan and at least $8,500 in unsubsidized federal loans, you are eligible to participate. The Financial Aid office cannot confirm until you have submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2016-2017 school year. Please submit your FAFSA via the website and make sure you apply for the upcoming academic year. You will need to complete your 2015 tax return before you can submit your FAFSA.
Please note that if you are not a U.S. citizen (and thus unable to receive federal subsidized loans), you may still be eligible to receive funding from SLS directly. Please submit to the Financial Aid office a narrative listing expected 2016 income, expected cash as of 9/1/2016, estimated amount of all other assets including value of any primary or secondary residences, 2016 estimated spousal income and assets if any, number in the household and number in the household who is enrolled in college at least 1/2 time.
The following awards are presented each spring at the law school’s annual Public Interest Celebration.
Lisa M. Schnitzer Memorial Scholarship
The family and friends of Lisa M. Schnitzer, a first-year Stanford Law School student who died in a car accident in 1987, established this scholarship to be a lasting tribute to her and in recognition of her deeply-held commitment to helping others, particularly those less fortunate. Each spring, the $3,000 scholarship is awarded to a female first-year student who has demonstrated a strong commitment to helping the disadvantaged, who meets the Office of Financial Aid’s criteria of financial need, and who will work for a nonprofit organization or government agency during the summer following her first year.
The Deborah L. Rhode Public Interest Award
Deborah L. Rhode, the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law, has endowed this award, which is presented annually to a graduating student (or a team of graduating students) who has demonstrated outstanding nonacademic public service during Law School. The Rhode Public Interest Award recognizes graduating students who have made outstanding contributions to underrepresented groups or public interest causes outside the Law School and/or in public service at the Law School. Individuals and teams may be nominated by other students, faculty, staff, or self-nominated. The $3,000 award is given on the basis of merit; all 3L students who meet the award criteria, regardless of financial need, may be nominated.
Justice John Paul Stevens Fellowships
The Justice John Paul Stevens Foundation generously established the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship Program to support four Stanford Law School students committed to public service. Stevens Fellowships provide financial assistance to students who will spend their summer volunteering at a public interest organization or governmental agency. First- and second-year students with financial need who meet all requirements for our internal Stanford Law School summer public interest funding grant are eligible to apply. The Stevens Fellowship will be in place of the typical $5,000 SLS grant.
Loan Repayment Assistance Program
Stanford Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) provides financial aid to graduates who pursue public interest or government service careers. In 1987, Stanford Law School was the first law school in the country to launch such a program. Today, it still sets the standard for law schools that have followed its lead.
Stanford’s commitment to guaranteeing career choices for its graduates is demonstrated by LRAP’s success. The program reflects one of the school’s key values: that public service is a worthy pursuit and that lawyers have a professional obligation to participate in public service throughout the course of their careers.
For those graduates who take public interest or public sector jobs and have need-based educational debt, Stanford Law School will lend funds to eligible applicants to help meet their monthly educational loan payments. If the graduate remains for three or more years in qualifying public interest employment, a portion of the loans made by the Law School may be canceled. Up to 100% of funds loaned may be forgiven.
Other Funding Support
Stanford Law School funds several postgraduate public interest fellowships for recent Stanford Law School JD graduates. These fellowships help our JD alumni launch their public interest careers through a paid one-year fellowship in a law-related endeavor designed to further the public interest.
The Levin Center administers two of the programs. We provide each Fellow with a $45,000 salary and the same fringe benefits to which an employee of the host organization would be entitled. SLS’ Loan Repayment Assistance Program will provide additional funds to meet educational loan repayment obligations during the fellowship year. Only SLS JD alumni are eligible to apply for these two programs:
- Stanford Law School Fellowships (multiple positions)
- Stanford Law School Criminal Defense Fellowship (one position)
Each year, the Center provides financial support that assists students to attend relevant conferences and symposia around the world. Students have received up to $400 each for travel expenses.
Pro Bono Project Support
The Levin Center’s commitment to public service is also manifested through its financial assistance to students who incur expenses related to their volunteer efforts. Over the past few years, we have sent students to assist clients and organizations in New Orleans, LA; Miami, FL; and San Diego, CA over the winter and spring breaks.
Students have received up to $750 each for travel expenses.