Public Interest Law

If you are entering the legal profession to pursue a career path in public interest law, you will find support, guidance, and a welcoming environment at Western New England University School  of Law.

A commitment to the public interest—Pro Bono Publico—is imbedded in the culture and curriculum at Law School. Many faculty members are engaged in public interest advocacy and scholarship. Their range of interests include antidiscrimination law; feminist theory; civil liberties; gay, lesbian, and transgender studies; workplace rights; poverty law; critical race theory; environmental law and health care policy. The Law School’s commitment to students interested in pursuing a career in public interest law encompasses scholarships opportunities, classroom teaching, clinical courses, externships, and extracurricular activities.

Public Interest Scholars Program

Western New England University School of Law’s support for Public Interest Lawyering includes the establishment of a $1.75 million endowed fund to support its Public Interest Scholars Program. Each year the Law School selects six Public Interest Scholars who have a demonstrated commitment to public interest work. They receive significant tuition scholarships, mentorship, and a summer stipend to participate in public interest legal work.

Equal Justice Works (National EJW Website)

The School of Law has an active chapter of Equal Justice Works that has sponsored Street Law programs in greater Springfield and organized student travel to Mississippi to provide legal services to communities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. EJW collaborates with the faculty, Career Services, and community organizations to provide students with a range of pro bono opportunities and funding for summer jobs with public interest organizations.

Public Interest Clinical and Externship Opportunities

Students can focus their academic instruction, clinical education, and externship opportunities in legal areas such as anti-discrimination law, legal services to individuals with HIV-AIDS, civil rights, tenants’ rights, domestic violence, immigration, civil liberties, workplace rights, consumer protection, and poverty law. Students are encouraged to participate and apply to various opportunities to gain practical skills while engaging in public interest work.

Students in the Legal Services Clinic work in the offices of Western Massachusetts Legal Services representing low income clients in the family, housing, elder, benefits, or employment units, and participate in a seminar focusing on topical issues in the areas of poverty law and the ongoing challenge of providing equal access to justice for those living in underserved communities.

The Consumer Law Clinic offers selected students an opportunity to represent clients in Small Claims Court and Housing Court to pursue claims brought under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act.

In the Criminal Law Clinic, selected students work with the District Attorney’s office, handling arraignments and prosecuting cases in the motion and trial sessions of the Hampden County District Court. Students in the Small Business Clinic advise entrepreneurs with their start up businesses in the inner city.

The Public Interest Externship Program offers a semester-long experience in an approved nonprofit organization or governmental agency. Students engage in a variety of lawyering tasks under the supervision of a practicing attorney and participate in a biweekly seminar that focuses on professionalism, ethics, and public interest lawyering.

Please view the Clinical Program Brochure which provides an overview of all clinical opportunities available to law students at Western New England University School of Law.