Public Interest/Public Service Employers

Work with us to find students with the talent, insight, and dedication to help you serve the public good.

Social Justice Initiatives (SJI) is Columbia Law School’s hub for public service work, connecting students and graduates with postgraduate and summer employment, fellowships, pro bono, and research projects. A wide variety of nonprofits, governmental bodies, and private firms around the world have chosen to work with us. We hope you will join them.

  • Public interest and government employers looking to hire or host our graduating students and alumni should consult the “Postgraduate Jobs and Fellowships” tab.
  • Government agencies, public service organizations, and law firms looking to request pro bono project assistance from our students should consult the “Pro Bono Assistance” tab.
  • Public interest and government employers looking for a Columbia Law School summer hire should consult the “Summer Internships” tab. 

For private sector corporate job opportunities, please contact Office of Career Services. For clerkships, please contact the Office of Judicial Clerkships.

 

Processes and Guidelines for Employers

If you would like to share information about a public sector opportunity, please reach out to SJI: 

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Mail: Social Justice Initiatives
    Columbia Law School
    435 West 116th St., Box B-26
    New York, NY 10027

Include a brief description of your organization as well as a more detailed description of relevant job details (including responsibilities, eligibility, salary, expected length of employment, and application instructions). Also, be sure to review the policies and guidelines tab on this page.

 

If you are a public interest employer and would like to speak with someone at SJI about a postgraduate opportunity at your organization, please contact:

Maddie Kurtz
Director of Public Interest Professional Development and Pro Bono Programs
[email protected]
212-854-8360

If you are a government employer and would like to speak with someone at SJI about a postgraduate opportunity at your organization, please contact:

Rachel Pauley
Director of Government Programs
[email protected]
212-854-7486

To post private sector corporate job opportunities, please visit the resources for employers provided by the Office of Career Services.

To post clerkship opportunities, please contact the Office of Judicial Clerkships. 

 

Our students often exceed their mandated pro bono service requirement. Here's how to work with them in New York City and beyond.

SJI distributes new pro bono postings to students throughout the entire year on a weekly basis. Both offices and organizations that already have an established relationship with our office, as well as offices and organizations that are new to the Columbia Pro Bono Program, can submit discrete pro bono projects for posting.

If you have ideas for student projects, whether they are research-oriented or direct service in nature, please contact SJI at [email protected] or 212-854-3318. A Pro Bono Program staff member will help you flesh out project specifics and discuss distributing the opportunity to our students. Interested students will then contact you directly.

All pro bono projects must meet the following four criteria:

  1. Law-related: The project requires knowledge of the law for completion.
  2. Supervised by an attorney (either directly or indirectly): The attorney supervisor will sign off on the final work product and/or a Student-Initiated Petition if needed.
  3. In the public interest: Examples include work that helps those who are under-represented, educates the public about the law, improves the legal profession, or deals with an issue of public importance from any side of the political spectrum.
  4. Uncompensated: Students may not receive any form of financial remuneration (salary, stipend, or grant) or academic credit (writing or other) for their work.

 Representation on individual cases is not available through this program. In exchange for volunteer Columbia Law student legal assistance, the attorney supervisor must complete a supervisor's report provided by your student after they submit their work. 

We also suggest you include some sort of “application” in your posting—such as requests for a résumé, any specific course or experience requirements, or a 100-word statement of interest or cover letter—as well as a deadline for responses and your contact information.

Students working at a law firm may not receive credit for work done during a week in which they are being paid. Work done on behalf of paying clients at a law firm will not qualify for pro bono credit.

In addition to discrete research or other projects, offices and organizations can also advertise for unpaid term-time legal interns through our Pro Bono Program by submitting the same information requested above to SJI.

 

Our Guaranteed Summer Funding (GSF) program, one of the largest in the nation, is an integral part of preparing our students to practice public interest law. 

GSF will fund any law-related employment in the public interest, in the U.S. or abroad, that utilizes legal education and skills. The program will not fund positions consisting solely of non-law-related policy or administrative work.

“Public Interest” shall be construed broadly, without regard to political orientation, and shall include not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), international criminal courts, government agencies (federal, state, municipal, and multinational), unions, judicial internships for which academic credit is not received, and, in some cases, private-public interest law firms.

 

GSF will not fund research assistantships or work on pro bono projects of public interest law firms if the law firm does not submit proof to SJI that (a) the student will be working solely on public interest matters and (b) the firm could not otherwise afford to pay a summer stipend.

Religious institutions (unless regarding secular activities available to the public) and membership agencies (such as a credit union, a fraternal order, or a cooperative) that are primarily for the benefit of the members of such organizations rather than the public are not eligible for this program. Likewise, work for a domestic political campaign or political party will not be funded.

 

The Human Rights Internship Program (HRIP) allows students to work in a wide range of international human rights organizations in the U.S. and around the world.

Columbia students will not receive funding unless your organization is HRIP-approved. To apply for participation in the program, email [email protected].

SJI distributes new pro bono postings to students weekly throughout the entire year. There are several ways for employers to have a job opportunity listed:

  • Email [email protected]
  • Mail: Social Justice Initiatives
    Attn: Program Coordinator for Summer Programs
    Columbia Law School
    435 West 116th St., Box B-26
    New York, NY 10027

Include a brief description of the organization, as well as a more detailed description of relevant job details (including responsibilities) and application instructions. Also, be sure to review the policies and guidelines tab on this page.

To post private sector job opportunities, please contact the Office of Career Services.

Only current Columbia Law School J.D. students are allowed to participate in our interview programs. Interviewers may not ask students from any other law school to present themselves for meetings at any venue where the Résumé Collect Program, Early Interview Program (EIP), Spring On-Campus Interview Program (OCI), or Fall On-Campus Interview Program (OCI) are underway. Interviewers who violate this policy jeopardize their organizations’ or agencies’ ability to participate in future Columbia Law School interview programs.

Employers participating in on-campus recruiting programs may not schedule or conduct initial or callback interviews of rising 2Ls prior to any on-campus recruiting programs, including EIP. This policy does not apply to:

  • Interviews conducted in accordance with organized job fairs.
  • Interviews for employer-sponsored fellowship/scholarship programs.
  • Interviews that result from requests by students for informational interviews.
  • Interviews with 1Ls who are currently or were previously employed by the employer.

Wherever possible, we encourage employers to accommodate our students' course schedules when arranging callback interviews. We ask that students be given options for interview times so that they can select one that best fits their schedule.

A student’s failure to keep or cancel a scheduled mock or on-campus interview by noon the day before the interview will result in their suspension of access to Social Justice Initiatives (SJI) and/or the Office of Career Services and Professional Development (OCS) until meeting with the Associate Director of Recruiting or an SJI or OCS counselor. The student will also be required to send an email apology and explanation to the employer/interviewer within 24 hours of the missed appointment, copying the appropriate counselor from the corresponding office. Any two unexcused “no shows” will result in withdrawal from SJI and/or OCS for the duration of the academic year.

Please alert the dean for SJI of any “no shows” within 48 hours of the scheduled interview. 

As a condition of obtaining any form of placement assistance from Columbia Law School, employers are required to confirm their willingness to observe our equal opportunity commitment:

Columbia pursues a policy of equal opportunity to obtain employment, without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, handicap or disability, gender (including gender identity or expression), or sexual orientation. The Law School communicates to each employer to whom it furnishes assistance and facilities for interviewing and other placement functions the school’s expectation that the employer will observe these principles of equal opportunity.

We are very pleased that under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, gay and lesbian people can begin serving openly in the United States Armed Services. Because of ongoing discrimination against openly transgender individuals who seek to serve in the U.S. military, however, we take this opportunity to remind members of our community of the Law School's anti-discrimination commitment and express our view that the military should take steps to allow transgender individuals to continue to serve openly and remove barriers that currently exist for transgender people who seek to enter military service.

Please note: Because the federal Solomon Amendment threatens the loss of federal funding to the university, the Law School cannot apply its nondiscrimination policy to the military. This exception to our policy does not in any way reflect an acceptance of, or agreement with, any existing or proposed discriminatory hiring practices, including against transgender individuals in the Armed Services.

 

Employers recruiting at Columbia Law School agree to comply with the recruiting policies and guidelines set forth in NALP's Principles for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process. In addition, Columbia Law School has adopted interim offer timing guidance effective as of December 13, 2018. 

Most importantly, employers are expected to:

  • Fully comply with the NALP's Principles for a Fair and Ethical Recruitment Process.
  • Refrain from recruiting, considering the applications of, or extending offers to candidates who have already accepted offers.
  • Provide anti-harassment, including sexual harassment, training to anyone from their organization involved in the recruitment process.
  • Refrain from undertaking any communications intended to secure the acceptance of their offer of employment from a student who has accepted another offer.
  • Use valid, job-related criteria when evaluating candidates.
  • Respect the policies, procedures, and legal obligations of individual law schools and request only services or information that are consistent therewith.
  • Honor all commitments made on its behalf.

Failure to meet any or all of these expectations may jeopardize an employer’s ability to continue to recruit at Columbia Law School.

 

For employers who participate in any of our on-campus interview programs, SJI is available to assist in the planning and execution of all symposia, receptions, panel discussions, and similar events that you may wish to host on- or off-campus.

If an employer does not currently participate in any on-campus interview program and wishes to host or participate in an event such as those referenced above, please contact the dean of SJI directly.

SJI understands that employers strive to maintain a professional demeanor during all of their interactions with students. However, every year we receive complaints from students about offensive, insensitive, and/or discriminatory behavior on the part of employer representatives. If our students encounter any such behavior, they are instructed to contact our office immediately.

When SJI receives a complaint from a student, the dean of SJI may take one or more of the following actions:

  • Place the complaint in a confidential “watch file.” Employers in the watch file will be closely monitored by SJI for a period not to exceed one academic year.
  • Promptly call the employer involved to discuss the incident(s) giving rise to the complaint and seek clarification regarding the conduct in question. To the extent that the dean concludes that the employer, while fully intending to comply with the Law School’s Policies and Guidelines Applicable to Employers, acted improperly, the dean will request that the improper conduct be modified. If the dean determines that conciliation is possible and may be useful, they may work with the student and employer to resolve the matter in a manner agreeable to both parties.
  • Ask the student to file a formal, written complaint addressed to the Employer Relations Committee. Once the Employer Relations Committee reviews the complaint, it may decide to take several actions, including conducting a full factual investigation into the complaint and imposing appropriate sanctions if it is determined that there has been a violation of the policies and guidelines applicable to employers. If the Employer Relations Committee determines that there has been a violation of the policies and guidelines applicable to employers, it may respond by:
    • Sending a letter of reprimand to the offending employer.
    • Informing the wider Columbia Law School community about the complaint.
    • Placing the offending employer on probation for a specified period.
    • Barring the employer from participating in recruiting activities managed by SJI for a specified period.
    • Imposing any other appropriate sanctions.