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For the Summer Public Interest Funding program, public interest work is defined as law related positions in government agencies, non-profit organizations, and their international equivalents. Small private firms that primarily work in the public interest might qualify for summer public interest funding, with prior approval. Eligible employment must occur within the sixteen weeks between the last day of exams and the first day of classes (May 15th – September 8th for 1Ls, May 8th – September 8th for 2Ls and SJDs).

Please note, it is the policy of the SPIF program that employers pay HLS students the same amount they pay their other summer interns and not refuse to pay HLS interns because of the availability of SPIF. We reserve the right to refuse to fund employment by any organization that does not pay all summer interns equitably.

Judicial summer clerkships, research assistant positions, jobs for which academic credit is received, public sector jobs that are NOT law related, jobs on political campaigns and self-employment DO NOT qualify for SPIF.

Private Public Interest Firm Eligibility

Generally, a private firm can qualify for summer funding if it meets most of these qualifications: it is small, public interest-oriented, pays relatively low starting salaries to attorneys, hires a small number of summer associates (or none), has an equitable summer associate salary structure, and/or has qualified for summer funding in the past.

Please note, even though a a private firm is listed in the public service section of Helios or may have been approved in the past does not guarantee it is an eligible SPIF employer. Changing circumstances within the firm can affect eligibility, so students should always seek pre-approval for these types of positions.

In order to obtain approval for a position at a private public interest firm please contact the SPIF staff with the following information to determine if the firm qualifies as an eligible SPIF employer:

  • How many attorneys work at the firm?
  • What is the average starting salary for attorneys with the firm?
  • How many summer associates are typically employed by the firm?
  • If any of the summer associates are paid, what is the pay rate for summer associates?