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Commitment to Public Service

Public Service

Can one law student make a difference? The USC Gould community says, unequivocally, "Yes." Whether you're assisting a family in adopting a child, or a veteran with medical and housing benefits, you can make a difference through countless volunteer opportunities, internships, in-house legal clinics, and grant programs.

USC Gould's student-run Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) offers myriad volunteer opportunities in partnership with Los Angeles' leading public interest organizations. PILF also provides more than 25 summer grants that enable students to work for a variety of public-interest agencies each summer-gaining practical legal experience while providing desperately needed legal aid to the poor and underrepresented.

USC Gould's Office of Public Service (OPS) supports all student-driven service projects. The OPS also coordinates public-service externships. Approximately 100 students annually earn academic credit and develop their advocacy skills while working for public interest organizations, government agencies, and judges.

USC Gould's Clinical Program offers students an opportunity to participate during the academic year or work full time over the summer for one of several in-house clinics, including: Children's Legal Issues Clinic, Employer Legal Advice Clinic, Immigration Clinic, Intellectual Property and Technology, Post-Conviction Justice Project, Small Business Clinic, and Mediation Clinic.

There are many ways to get involved in public interest projects while studying at USC Gould. For example, Legal Aid Alternative Breaks (LAAB) sponsors spring break trips to hurricane-ravaged areas of the Gulf Coast, where students provide crucial legal services to residents working to rebuild their lives. LAAB also added a border justice trip to Tijuana, Mexico during winter break 2008. Other student-led service projects include La Raza's Teen Court, a diversion program for first-time juvenile offenders in lieu of formal juvenile court proceedings, and Street Law a nationally recognized educational outreach program that teaches legal literacy to local high school students.

USC encourages students to pursue careers in public interest,
pro bono opportunities, and other public service beyond law school by providing:

  • PILF's Irmas Fellowship:
    An annual fellowship for a one-year, post-graduate position with the nonprofit agency of the fellow's choice
  • Clinton-Orfalea Fellowship:
    A one-year, post-graduate opportunity to work on one of the foundation's domestic or international initiatives
  • Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP):
    Funds which help repay student loans for graduates working in public service
  • PILF's Outstanding Public Interest Graduate Award:
    Honors alumni commitment to public-interest careers
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