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Semester Public Interest Program

Select third-year law students spend their final semester in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles as public interest interns with nonprofit corporations or federal agencies. Exposure to public law in this setting and the expanded public interest opportunities are key features of this program.

The program creates a valuable bridge in the transition from law student to practicing lawyer. With developed professional skills and a network built in the final law school semester, students will broaden their employment opportunities.

The core of the Semester Public Interest Program is a semester-long internship in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, coupled with an on-site or video-conferenced seminar on lawyering in the public interest. This skills-based capstone program allows students committed to public interest legal careers to gain hands-on experience and connect with potential employers in desirable public interest careers.

Students work approximately 400 hours at the internship site during the semester and earn eight hours of credit. The internship also includes some established and regular communication among the student, the supervising faculty member, and the supervisory attorney. Students also write weekly reflective essays.

With the help of the Career Services Office, you will apply for and secure your internship placement before applying for this program.

Professor A. James Barnes offers a 2 credit course, B539: Lawyering in the Public Interest, in Washington, D.C., with access via video for students completing their internships in other cities. The course addresses the realities of law practice in the public sector, and is required for participation in the program.

Coursework may include:

  • Preparing comments on proposed agency rules
  • Filing petitions and Freedom of Information Act requests with agencies
  • Preparing analyses of pending legislation for clients
  • Developing legislative strategies and drafting talking points and proposed amendments to give to members of Congress or their staffs

Sessions with alumni to discuss insights/practice tips with students will also be arranged.


Admission to the program requires an application and approval of a selection committee. Contact Donna Nagy, interim executive associate dean, for application instructions. You will receive eight credits for the internship and two for the course. You may also enroll in two to four more credits through our directed readings and directed research courses, supervised by faculty members in Bloomington. You will receive letter grades in the course and for directed research; the internship and the directed readings are pass/fail.

More Information

Donna Nagy
Interim Executive Associate Dean
Phone: (812) 856-2826