Public Interest Funding Programs

Overview

Stanford provides academic, summer and post-graduate financial assistance to students and alumni committed to public interest practice. We give direct grants totaling over $4 million each year to support current students and alumni. 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.

Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships

Stanford Law School’s Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law offers postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships which enable our graduates to work full-time for a year in a law-related endeavor designed to further the public interest. These include both general postgraduate Stanford Law School fellowships on any public interest issue and those targeting specific substantive areas (e.g., international, criminal defense, criminal justice). There are slightly different eligibility requirements for each program, but there will be one joint application process for these fellowships. Finalists will be invited to an interview with the selection committee.

The fellowship program was established in 2008 in partnership with the Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation. Starting with the 2014-2015 fellowship year, the fellowship positions became wholly funded by Stanford Law School.

There are also two additional fellowship programs that target Stanford Law School graduates. These have separate application processes as the host entities will choose the SLS Fellows themselves. SLS graduates can apply for the Sullivan and Cromwell Fellowship at Public Counsel and the International Court of Justice University Traineeship Fellowship.

Please review the respective fellowship programs’ webpages and the FAQ on our Fellowship Program. You may contact Levin Center staff with any additional questions.

Summer Funding

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 typically receive up to $7,500 and those students who are doing a second summer in public interest law receive up to $8,500. Joint-degree and JSD students may participate for a maximum of three summers. An additional stipend is available for students who will intern abroad. We spent over $700,000 to support 139 students during the summer of 2021. The registration deadline for summer funding is 1:00 pm PST on Thursday, March 31, 2022.  Late applications will not be accepted.

Information on the Summer 2022 program is now updated.

To apply to participate in the Summer Funding Program, please read the 2022 Summer Funding Guidelines, then fill out the application.

2022 Summer Funding Application Guidelines Acknowledgement

2022 Summer Public Interest Funding Application Form

  • There is also a supplemental International Summer Funding grant for students who are working in person overseas for public interest employers. Students who indicate they are working overseas in the application form will be contacted directly and may receive up to an additional $2,000. Please contact Titi Liu, Director of International Public Interest Initiatives, with any questions.
  • 2022 Essential Summer Funding Forms 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Stanford Summer Public Interest Funding program?

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 $7,500-$8,500 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 will offer the full grant to students who work a 9 week, full-time work schedule (360 hours total). Students who work fewer weeks will receive 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 $7,500 grants, though students who worked in public service during their first summer can receive up to $8,500 during their second summer. For purposes of the enhanced second-year grant, judicial externships count as public service employers. Each year more than 130 students participate in this program.

If students work the full 9 weeks (360 hours) during your first public interest summer internship, you will receive $7,500. Students who work fewer weeks will receive pro-rated grants. For example, if you work 8 weeks (320 hours), you will receive approximately $6,668. Anyone who anticipates working fewer than 8 weeks must see Anna Wang for approval to receive a summer funding grant.

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.

Who is eligible to receive summer funding?
All law students who will still be enrolled after the summer ends (e.g., 1Ls, 2Ls, joint degree students who haven’t yet graduated from the Law School, and JSD students) with financial need are eligible. Students who are graduating and will not return to the Law School after the summer ends are ineligible. Joint-degree students and JSD students are eligible to participate for three summers of public interest funding. Note that students can only receive the enhanced $8,500 grant for one summer.
How do you determine financial need?

The Financial Aid office determines whether students are eligible to participate. If you qualify for $16,500 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 following school year (e.g., Summer 2022 interns need to submit a FAFSA for 2022-2023). Please submit your FAFSA via the website and make sure you apply for the upcoming academic year.

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 income for the calendar year, expected cash as of 9/1/2022, estimated amount of all other assets including value of any primary or secondary residences, 2022 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.

How do I apply?
The application is available on our website and will be due in late March. It is a registration form that both confirms your participation for the summer and grants Levin Center staff permission to confer with Financial Aid regarding your financial need.
What if I don't have an offer by the deadline?
Students are not required to have accepted an offer at the time of application. All students who anticipate that they may want the summer stipend must apply. You may withdraw if your plans change but we will NOT accept late applications. You do not need to submit documentation verifying your internship until May at the earliest. Occasionally, students finalize their offers even later. However, funds cannot be disbursed until all the required documents are received.
Can I still participate if my employer or another program offers some funding?
Students are still eligible to participate in Stanford's program provided that the other funding source does not exceed a total of $12,000. For example, if you receive an outside scholarship intended to support your summer internship or your employer offers you $6,000, we will reduce our $7,500 grant to $6,000 to keep you under the $12,000 cap. Any outside funds above $12,000 will result in a complete loss of funds from SLS' program, as we allow a maximum of $12,000 income from all sources for the summer. We consider all income, including a second job as an LSAT prep instructor, a scholarship intended to support summer expenses, salary from a private firm if you are splitting your summer, etc. Note that some scholarships are intended to support school-year expenses so we will ignore those funds. Non-cash compensation (e.g., a free public transit pass) will not impact your grant.
How will receiving additional income for summer expenses affect my financial aid package?
Any income over $7,500 in the three summer months immediately preceding the academic year will impact your financial aid package. Excess funds above $7,500 are subject to a formula that increases the expected student contribution. Normally, your expected student contribution is based on any income or assets, except that income of $7,500 and less is NOT subject to the formula. For example, if you earn $8,500 total for the summer, 57% of the extra $1,000 is now going to be part of the expected student contribution—which may reduce the amount of grants you receive.
What kind of organization qualifies for summer funding?
This determination will be made on a case by case basis. Qualifying organizations may include domestic 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations or international tax-exempt non-governmental organizations that provide legal services for underrepresented communities or otherwise serve the public interest, government entities, and some private public interest law firms. Judicial externships and non-profits that serve the general private sector (e.g., StartX) are not eligible for summer funding. The purpose of this funding program is to provide law students the opportunity to explore potential future careers in public service and public interest law, and therefore internship opportunities outside of these areas will generally not be funded. If you are uncertain whether your potential employer will qualify, please submit a written request via email to Levin Center staff.
Why are judicial internships excluded from this program?
The Law School has limited funds available for this program and chose to prioritize nonprofit and government positions over judicial externships. The goal of this program is to support students' efforts to explore potential career paths and judicial clerkships are rarely permanent positions. Students who serve in a judicial externship during their 1L summer are eligible for the enhanced 2L grant during their 2L summer.
Are international positions eligible?
Yes, international positions are eligible for funding under the same eligibility guidelines. There is also an additional fund offering supplemental grants to those interning abroad.
How should I prepare for working abroad?
Review this page for a checklist and resources on working abroad.
Why must I work on-site?
The purpose of the Summer Public Interest Funding program is to both provide students with experience in, and encourage students to explore future career options in, public service and public interest law. We believe these goals are best met when students work on site so they can fully familiarize themselves with that field of law, that organization, and the people who work in that field and at that organization. In addition, in the past, some students have taken advantage of off-site internship arrangements to pursue their own academic research or other personal goals. For summer 2022, this requirement will be waived. We will revisit this rule before the summer of 2023, depending on whether offices continue to offer remote internship programs due to COVID-19.
What if I cannot work the whole 9 weeks?
The Law School expects students to work full-time for at least 8 weeks and will provide funding for 9 weeks maximum. If there is a reason you cannot work at least 8 weeks, we can make exceptions. Please contact Levin Center staff. Note that anyone who works less than 9 weeks will receive pro-rated summer funding.
Can I earn more money if I work more than 9 weeks?
Unfortunately, the Law School does not have the funds to offer more money to students who work more than 9 weeks of work. However, you can apply those excess hours toward earning Pro Bono Distinction by entering your additional hours in the pro bono tracking platform.
How do I get paid?
Some students will be asked to participate in the Federal Work Study program. This will require additional paperwork as students must be added to the Stanford University payroll and then submit timesheets every two weeks. Other students who are ineligible for Federal Work Study—non-U.S. citizens, those working overseas, and those working for many governmental agencies—will be paid with SLS funds via Direct Deposit.
Why do some students have to be paid through Federal Work Study and adhere to additional procedures to receive funding?
We realize and commiserate that the Federal Work Study program requires more paperwork compared to receiving a Direct Deposit, but Federal Work Study Funds constitute a significant source of funding for the SLS Summer Public Interest Funding program each year. If the Law School does not make use of those funds, it does not have access to them the following year.

Scholarships

The following scholarships are offered to current Stanford Law School students who will work in public service during the summer. These awards honor students who demonstrated a commitment to public service.

Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship

Stanford Law School is pleased to administer the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship Program. This program is generously funded by the Justice John Paul Stevens Foundation.

Stevens Fellowships provide financial assistance to students who will spend their summer volunteering at a public interest organization. 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. There are four Stevens Fellowships available to Stanford Law School students.

The Stevens Fellowship will be a $5,000 SLS grant that supplants part of the standard grant (e.g., 1Ls will receive up to $2,500 more from SLS if they work 9 weeks and 2Ls will receive up to $3,500 more if they work 9 weeks). The grant will be deposited directly into the recipients’ bank accounts. Additional benefits of serving as a Stevens Fellow may include events with Stevens Fellows at other law schools.

HOW TO APPLY
1. Submit the standard application for SLS summer public interest funding grant. Per that program, all applicants must commit to working full-time for at least 8 weeks at a nonprofit or government agency. Some private public interest firms are also eligible on a case-by-case basis.

2. Submit two PDF files. The first one should include a brief essay no more than 500 words about your commitment to public interest law and include how past and/or present public interest experiences (employment, government service, community service, and extra-curricular activities) reflect your commitment. Please do not write your name on the essay. Instead, please use your student ID. Please also submit a copy of your resume with only your student ID number (removing your name and e-mail address if your name is part of your e-mail) in that same PDF file. Name the file with your ID number. Finally, please include a separate PDF file listing your name and student ID. Please e-mail both PDF files to
Applica.utza6x985055eavf@u.box.com by 1:00 pm on Friday, April 22, 2022.

Past recipients include:

2022 – Daniel Ahrens, JD ’23, Marty Berger, JD ’23, Royce Chang, JD ’23, and Yi Li, JD ’23
2021 – Taylor Chambers, JD ’22; Erica Eilerson Posey, JD ’22; Gabriel Beringer, JD ’22; and Samuel H. Becker, JD ’22
2020 – Julian Alvarez, JD ’22; Bailey Colfax, JD ’22; Jennifer Friedmann, JD ’22; and Lauren Shepard, JD ’21
2019 – Ashley Brooks, JD ’20; Danny Martinez, JD ’20; Diana Sanchez, JD ’20; and Bryan Thomson, JD ’20
2018 – Hannah Begley, JD ’20; Zachary Bleckner, JD ’19; Ben Hattem, JD ’20; and Serena Saffarini, JD ’20
2017 – Lauren Gorodetsky, JD ’18; David Huang, JD ’19; Andrew Flood, JD ’18; and Adrienne Pon, JD, ’18
2016 – Sophia Carrillo, JD ’18; Daniel Nesbit, JD ’17; Abbee Cox, JD ’17; and Kate Fetrow, JD’17
2015 – Amari Hammonds, JD ’17; Malia McPherson, JD ’16; Cindy Garcia, JD ’16; and Liz Jones, JD ’16
2014 – Gagan Gupta, JD ’16; Nikki Marquez, JD ’15; Jacob Raver, JD ’16; and Michael Skocpol, JD ’16
2013 – Jake McMahon, JD ’15, and Farbod Faraji, JD ’15
2012 – Kristen Robin Bell, JD ’13, and James Allen Aiken Klonoski, JD ’13
2011 – Tori Ballif, JD ’12, and Dan Galindo, JD ’12
2010 – Stephen Dekovich, JD ’11, and Kevin Lo, JD ’11
2009 – Nicole Daro, JD ’10, and Rachel Marshall, JD ’10
2008 – Aaron Konopasky, JD ’09, and Jessica Oats, JD ’09
2007 – Jesse Hahnel JD ’08, and Tommy Nosewicz JD ’08

The Genes Family Fund Public Interest Fellowships

Stanford Law School is pleased to offer a summer fellowship opportunity in environmental law via the Summer Public Interest Funding Program. This opportunity is generously supported by The Genes Family Fund.

Genes Family Fellowships provide financial assistance to students interested in working on water law and policy matters affecting rivers. The purpose of this funding is to utilize law and public policy to ensure healthy river ecosystems for future generations by exposing 1L and 2L students interested in working on water law and policy matters affecting rivers (including their use, protection and health) in a law firm, governmental agency or non-governmental organization; the funding is not intended to support academic research projects. For purposes of this program, a river starts at its headwaters, includes the waterways joining other rivers and/or bodies of water (lakes, estuaries, bays) and finally running into the ocean. Additionally, the river’s associated watershed is considered part of the river.

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. There will be up to three Genes Family Fellowships available to Stanford Law School students each summer.

The Genes Family Fellowship will supplant the standard SLS grant of $7,500 for first-year students and $8,500 for second-year students. The funds will be distributed via a lump-sum grant.

HOW TO APPLY

1. Submit the standard application for SLS summer public interest funding grant. Per that program, all applicants must commit to working full-time for at least 8 weeks at a nonprofit or government agency. Indicate your interest in the Genes Family Fellowship on the application.

2. Molly Melius, Program Manager, Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program, will review applications and confirm eligibility. Levin Center staff will notify students selected as Genes Family Fellows.

Past recipients include:

2022 – To be determined

Other Funding Support

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; Atlanta, GA; and San Diego, CA over the winter and spring breaks. Students have received up to $750 each for travel expenses.