Very few experiences match the gratification that comes from making a difference in the lives of people in need, and Southwestern students have many avenues through which they can have that kind of connection to the community. Since its founding, Southwestern has held public interest as a central component of its curriculum and philosophy, and encourages public service through a rich selection of programs, courses, activities and individual pursuits.
Southwestern's expanded commitment to public interest and community service is just one step in the law school's efforts to better integrate the teaching of professionalism and professional skills throughout the curriculum. Participating in public interest work during law school is not only a rewarding way for our students to make a difference in the community, it is a key way for students to cultivate and learn lawyering skills that will be valuable in any career.
A number of courses incorporate public interest law and advocacy training, and the law school's Children's Rights, Immigration Law and Street Law clinics provide exciting hands-on opportunities to help underrepresented children and families. Externships are also available in more than 30 public interest organizations.
Beyond the classroom, the Public Interest Law Committee - a student-faculty committee - works to promote public interest law awareness and fundraising with speakers and events throughout the year, and sponsors an annual Public Interest Law Event Series to raise funds for the Public Interest Summer Grant Program. Every summer approximately 25 students receive funding from this program and the prestigious Silbert Public Interest Fellowship Program.
Through its Public Service Policy, all Southwestern students are encouraged to perform at least 25 hours of pro bono legal services (other than for pay or academic credit) each year. Those who serve at least 75 hours by graduation are formally recognized on their records. In support of this policy, Southwestern created a Public Service Program to develop volunteer opportunities for students in the community. Additionally, Public Interest Law Service Awards are presented annually to graduating students in recognition of demonstrated extraordinary dedication to public interest law while at Southwestern.