Public Interest

As part of the State’s land-grant university, Illinois Law is committed to training the next generation of public interest and government lawyers. From loan repayment assistance, fellowships, and specific scholarships, to a career counselor devoted entirely to public interest, Illinois Law offers significant resources and support for students aspiring to careers in the public sector.


Our public interest-focused courses cover a diverse array of legal matters. From an emphasis on governance in classes such as Jurisprudence and Constitutional Law, to a focus on family and health law in courses like Elder Law and Tort Law, we aim to provide the education the next generation of public interest lawyers require to build a great career. Sample courses related to public interest include:

  • Animal Law
  • Climate Change and Corporate Accountability
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Poverty & the Law
  • Race, Society, & the Law
  • Spanish for Lawyers


We believe the best education comes from experience, and we have developed a wealth of engagement opportunities at the College of Law. With experienced, committed, and passionate directors, our clinics provide an incredible resource for our students and for those they serve. Our six public interest clinics include:

Federal Civil Rights Clinic attorneys Elizabeth Nielsen ’22 and Robert Harding ’22 helped their client receive a favorable jury decision in court in April 2022.

“This is putting something real on things we’ve been doing for fake,” Nielsen explained. “We both took trial advocacy and trial advocacy workshop together, but it’s still fake: an isolated case file in a booklet. This is a real thing with real people on the other end, real defendants you’re there in the courtroom with, witnesses that you don’t know what they’re going to say.”

Field placements

In addition to our clinics, students are encouraged to participate in externships while at the College of Law to help connect the classroom to legal practice and explore different areas of law. Our work with the State Appellate Prosecutor, in which an attorney from the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office advises and supervises students in the preparation of briefs to the Illinois Appellate Court, is another innovative way we provide hands-on experience for students. Likewise, our Racial Justice Practicum provides education on the legal system and its effects on people of color as well as a work experience with legal aid agencies representing populations affected by racism.

Public Interest Fellowships

The Public Interest Fellowship Program is designed to launch new graduates into careers as public interest and government lawyers. Fellowships range from 12-18 months and offer new graduates unique opportunities to pursue careers as prosecutors, public defenders, assistant attorneys general, municipal law attorneys, in-house counsel, and legal aid attorneys across the United States. Fellows build important skills while serving our fellow citizens. Learn more.

Loan Repayment Assistance Program

The College of Law is committed to encouraging its graduates to pursue public interest careers. Because the burden of law school debt can hinder students from choosing careers in public service, government, and non-profit organizations, we have created the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). LRAP offers partial loan forgiveness to qualifying applicants. Learn more about eligibility for LRAP and apply