Vanderbilt Law School is committed to cultivating a culture of public service and to facilitating opportunities for students in the public interest comprehensive preparation and support, including:
Opportunities for public service begin at orientation, when you may choose to take the pro bono pledge, a commitment to at least 75 hours of pro bono legal work and community service during law school. Many students also pursue summer work in judicial chambers, the offices of federal and district attorneys and public defenders, and with government agencies and legal nonprofits, receiving course credit or stipends funded by the law school to help defray living expenses.
The public interest office coordinates pro bono opportunities and facilitates law career for students and recent graduates seeking to work in public interest. Vanderbilt’s George Barrett Social Justice Program offers comprehensive, hands-on training and mentoring, specifically designed to prepare graduates for work in the public interest.
Vanderbilt offers expert advice and targeted support to students seeking public interest careers – whether in government service, indigent defense, legal aid offices, advocacy organizations, or their own brand of social justice entrepreneurship. The assistant dean for public interest works closely with the Career Services Office to support students who aspire to public service work during and after law school.
"I knew I wanted to use the law to help other people, whether that meant working for a legal nonprofit or in government service. Faculty here are experts in their fields, and I appreciated their enthusiasm to teach the law and their willingness to discuss its flaws and how law can be improved to make people’s lives better.”
Ashley Fox ’24, Adom Abatkun ’25 and Sophia Howard ’25 were selected for the first and second cohorts of a groundbreaking scholarship program created “to endow the South with the next generation of civil rights lawyers.”
Utilizing cutting-edge tools like Public Interest Legal Research (PILR)—an online portal where public interest law practitioners can submit research requests and projects for Vanderbilt Law students to perform remotely—adds depth to student experience and can alleviate hurdles facing public interest attorneys. PILR allows practitioners to submit research requests that Vanderbilt Law Students can complete on deadline.
Email the Public Interest Office Program Coordinator.
Vanderbilt does not respond to email requests for legal assistance. Please call 615-322-4964.