Vanderbilt offers students seeking public interest careers – whether in government service, indigent defense, legal aid offices, advocacy organizations, or their own brand of social justice entrepreneurship – expert advice. 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.
Fellowships are time-limited employment opportunities that serve as an important pathway into the public interest legal sector for recent law graduates, including judicial clerks. This guide focuses on five categories of established post-graduate public interest fellowships:
Our Assistant Dean for Public Interest works one-on-one with students seeking a career in public interest. The annual Government and Public Interest Day allows students to network with government and nonprofit employers. Students may also attend the annual Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair with support from Vanderbilt.
Each year, Vanderbilt graduates secure post-graduate fellowships and permanent positions with a range of public interest and government agencies. Post-graduate fellowships like the Skadden and Equal Justice Works are time-limited employment opportunities that serve as an important pathway into the public interest legal sector for recent law graduates, including judicial clerks.
Students interested in careers in public interest law may attend the two-day Equal Justice Works Annual Conference and Career Fair with support from Vanderbilt.
The conference, put on by Equal Justice Works, is the largest national public interest career fair; more than 1,200 students from 165 law schools participate in job interviews, workshops and networking and make valuable career connections. In addition to conducting interviews for full- and part-time positions, public interest employers meet with students in informal "table talk" settings to discuss public interest job opportunities. The Conference and Career Fair also features workshops on public interest careers and job search advice, resumé and cover letter review, mock interviews and more.
Below are some of the public sector agencies where Vanderbilt Law graduates of the Classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023 went to work after graduation:
|A Better Balance||Brooklyn Defender Services (NY)||Campaign Legal Center|
|Church World Service||Colorado Center on Law and Policy||Colorado Department of Law, Office of the Attorney General|
|Community Legal Aid (MA)||Emory University Law School, Juvenile Justice Clinical Fellowship||Federal Energy Regulatory Commission|
|House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform||King County Department of Public Defense (Seattle, WA)||Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands|
|Legal Aid Society, New York City||Nashville Defenders||Office of the Colorado Public Defender|
|Office of the District Attorney, 18th Judicial District (CO)||Office of the District Attorney, Bronx (NY)||Office of the District Attorney, County of Riverside (CA)|
|Office of the District Attorney, Queens (NY)||Office of the Philadelphia District Attorney||Office of the Public Defender, Fourth Judicial Circuit (Jacksonville, FL)|
|Office of the Public Defender, Nassau County (NY)||Office of the Public Defender, Travis County (Austin, TX)||Powell Project|
|Southern Environmental Law Center||Still She Rises||Tennessee Innocence Project|
|Tennessee Justice Center||Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors||U.S. Agency for International Development|
|U.S. Air Force JAG||U.S. Army Corps of Engineers||U.S. Army JAG|
|U.S. Coast Guard JAG||U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit||U.S. Department of Homeland Security, USCIS Refugee and Asylum Law Division|
|U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development||U.S. Department of Justice, Honors Program, Antitrust Division||U.S. Department of Justice, Honors Program, Civil Rights Division|
|U.S. Marine JAG||United Food and Commercial Workers International Union||United Nation's High Commission on Refugees|
Email the Public Interest Office Program Coordinator