Georgia State is one of the premier universities in the country for students to give back while working toward their legal degrees.
The College of Law was one of 12 schools in the nation awarded an A+ for public interest law by Prelaw Magazine and was the winner of the State Bar of Georgia’s Law School Excellence in Access to Justice Award in 2018.
Through the Center for Access to Justice, the College of Law conducts research, offers Alternative Spring Break trips and houses the Pro Bono Program, which has seen students serve more than 3,000 hours since the program’s inception in 2017. The College of Law also offers a Certificate in Public Interest Law & Policy, which uses a hands-on course of study to focus on issues likely to arise when representing under-served segments of the population.
To help facilitate students’ opportunities to gain experience in the public interest sector, the College of Law offers funding to those students engaged in public interest work. Students who choose to dedicate their summers to providing pro bono work for under-represented people are eligible to be considered for funding from several sources ranging from $3,500-$7,500.
In February, the College of Law also became the 18th law school in the nation to offer a public policy fellowship program in partnership with the Squire Patton Boggs Foundation to award fellowships to first- and second-year students who show a commitment to public service and an interest in public policy.
Here, current Georgia State Law students highlight what their public interest service opportunities have meant to them.
Lane McKell (J.D. ’22)
DeKalb Public Defender’s Office
“The public interest funding allowed me to focus as much time and energy as possible on my internship at DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office. Because of the PILA grant, I did not have to get an additional job this summer, so my time was spent strengthening my legal writing and oral advocacy skills rather than worrying about the day to day cost of living. Essentially, the grant meant that I could take a breath and focus on becoming a better attorney to the furthest extent possible.”
Aaron Cook (J.D. ’22)
Georgia Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Disabilities
“I applied to law school motivated by a desire to work in the public interest space. It was important for me to find a 1L public interest summer internship, but nearly all that I applied for were unpaid. It simply would not have been possible for me to complete the internship with the Georgia Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Disabilities this summer had I not received public interest funding.”
Anne Krache (J.D. ’20)
Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
“The public interest funding was a huge help to me and my husband. I am an atypical law student, and since I work full-time, I’ve done everything I can to pay my way through. The public interest funding helped me pay for books and bar prep, two huge expenses. All my thanks go to [assistant director of the Center for Access to Justice] Darcy Meals, who made all of this happen. She is amazing, and the College of Law is lucky to call her ours.”
Madeline Ross (J.D. ’21)
Cobb County District Attorney’s Office
“I was lucky enough to receive summer funding through the Young Lawyers Division Public Interest Internship Program. The funding gave me the freedom to fully pursue the field of law I am most passionate about without being constrained by finances. I feel incredibly humbled to have a group of veteran attorneys believe in me and invest in my burgeoning law career. “
Nautica Allen (J.D. ’21)
Clayton County Public Defender’s Office
“I would’ve probably sought out different internships that were not as aligned with my interests if it hadn’t been for the public interest funding.”