Southwestern’s Public Interest Law Committee’s mission is to help create a community where Southwestern students are educated and incentivized to participate in issues concerning and advancing the public interest. Each fundraising cycle, the student-run Public Interest Law Committee (PILC) focuses efforts on raising as much funds as possible to provide financial support for students who wish to spend their summer contributing to the work of public interest and government agencies advocating for meaningful impact for the diverse, low-income communities across California who need legal advocacy the most.
The PILC Summer Grant aims to alleviate the financial burden of student loans while providing Southwestern students the opportunity to gain practical legal training and education in public service.
All donations benefit Southwestern’s Public Interest Law Fund, which provides funding to selected student recipients to serve in unpaid, full-time clerkships with public interest / civil legal aid and government agencies up to a 10-week summer term.
Public Interest Law Committee Summer Grant Program Application
Through the PILC Summer Grant Program, Southwestern students are provided meaningful education and training in public service while offering legal services organizations valuable assistance in increasing services to diverse, indigent communities.
As part of the application, students must demonstrate that the summer clerkship is consistent with the mission of Southwestern’s Public Interest Law Grant and merits funding as a public interest law position. Students who seek a summer clerkship with a local, state, or federal government agency are eligible to apply.
Recipients are selected annually through an application and faculty committee review process. The Faculty Public Interest Law Committee takes into account: whether an applicant contributed to fundraising activities for the Summer Public Interest Law Grant; the applicant’s pro bono or public interest experience; the applicant’s demonstrated commitment to public service; whether the applicant has interviewed for a qualifying summer clerkship; and whether the applicant has received a summer employment offer.
To apply for a Southwestern Summer Public Interest Law Grant, you must electronically submit your application and resume at the link below:
Note: Handwritten or hard-copy applications are not accepted. Upon successfully submitting your application, you will receive an auto-generated email to confirm receipt of your application. If you do not receive confirmation, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
The deadline to apply for the PILC Summer Grant Program is typically scheduled in early March each year and will be posted on the MySouthwestern portal along with all pertinent information. After the close of the application deadline, the Faculty Public Interest Law Committee reviews all student applications received and will notify students of application status by end of March.
For individualized assistance and advice on how to participate in legal recruitment programs and preparing application materials to apply for full-time summer clerk programs with eligible organizations, please contact Southwestern’s Career Services to request an appointment with your assigned Career Services advisor.
Southwestern Summer Fellowship Opportunities
Other funding programs are also available to further service in the public interest, meeting the law school’s dual goals of enhancing the educational experience of our students and assisting our communities and public entities in need.
Judge Harry Pregerson Public Service Legacy Programs
Made possible by a grant from the Rodan Family Foundation in honor of Judge Harry Pregerson
Launched in 2020, the Judge Harry Pregerson Public Service Fellowships are Southwestern Law School’s premier leadership track for public interest law. The Judge Harry Pregerson Public Service Fellowships are designed to encourage and support Southwestern students who are pursuing careers reflecting the late Judge Harry Pregerson’s values, determination, and impact on life in Southern California.
Pregerson Fellows are selected students who demonstrate exceptional dedication to public service, and who are most likely to dedicate their legal careers to working on behalf of underserved communities and causes. Through funded summer fellowships, specialized training, leadership development, and facilitating interaction with practitioners, academics, and like-minded students, Pregerson Fellows also serve as an integral part of creating service-minded culture, community, and leadership at Southwestern.
The Harvey L. and Lillian Silbert Foundation established the Harvey L. and Lillian Silbert Public Interest Fellowship at Southwestern to provide grants for selected students to work and gain legal experience at specified non-for-profit public interest organizations. The grant funds students for specific legal aid agencies but works similarly to Southwestern’s PILC summer grant program offering legal services organizations valuable legal assistance while providing students with meaningful public service exposure. The recipients are called Silbert Fellows.
The recipient of the Silbert Fellowship must have a strong interest in public interest practice and be committed to serving low-income populations unable to afford legal representation. The Fellowship Program is open to all Southwestern students including first-year students seeking employment in the summer following their first year.
On the occasion of his retirement and in recognition of his dedication to Southwestern and contributions to the Public Interest Law Fund, Southwestern alumni established an endowment fund in Dean Emeritus Leigh H. Taylor's name in 2005. Dean Taylor, an ardent supporter of public interest programs and their invaluable contribution to society, retired as Dean of Southwestern in the summer of 2005, after 27 years of service to the school.
The recipient of the Dean Leigh H. Taylor Public Interest Law Fund must have a strong interest in public interest practice and be committed to serving low-income populations unable to afford legal representation. This grant is open to all Southwestern students including first-year students seeking employment in the summer following their first year.
The Dean Susan Westerberg Prager Endowment Fund to Benefit the Southwestern Law School Public Interest Law Committee (PILC) Summer Grant Program was established in 2017 by a gift of $50,000 from Sterling Franklin (Loyola Law ’75), Trustee of the Morris S. Smith Foundation, and a friend of Dean Susan Prager. The fund was established for three purposes:
- To honor Dean Susan Westerberg Prager for her long service to the legal community.
- To provide a summer grant to a Southwestern law student committed to public interest practice.
- To encourage friends and alumni of Southwestern Law School to consider establishing and donating to similar PILC endowment funds at Southwestern Law School.
A student is eligible to apply for a Dean Susan Westerberg Prager Endowment Fund Grant if he/she/they are: (i) enrolled full- or part-time as a J.D. student at Southwestern Law School; (ii) applies to be considered for a Southwestern PILC Summer Grant; and (iii) has financial aid need for a PILC Summer Grant according to the policies and practices of the Southwestern Public Interest Law Committee. This grant is open to all Southwestern students including first-year students seeking employment in the summer following their first year.