Columbia Law School is proud to support our students who work full-time in public interest or public service internships over the summer. Please note that students must meet all deadlines and requirements of the Guaranteed Summer Funding (GSF) Program in order to receive funding.
2018-2019 Deadlines at a Glance
9/27-11/30: Register for GSF on LawNet
10/1-2/1: Complete your FAFSA
11/1-12/1: Register for the PILC Fair
11/5: HRIP: Statement of Interest due
4/3: Students with confirmed placements* receive CLS HR hiring paperwork
4/3: Catalyst Public Service Fellowship applications due
4/15: Venable, Justice Stevens Fellowship applications due
4/15: Last day to add your placement to LawNet
4/15: Last day to withdraw from GSF
4/22: Last day to submit HR hiring paperwork
4/22: Last day to complete your I-9 form
5/17: Complete the GSF Summer Contact Form
5/31: Submit your first online timesheet
*Placements must be confirmed as of 3/27
2018-2019 Funding Amount
*This is the amount students earn if they work the maximum internship duration. Students are required to complete online biweekly timesheets for hours worked.
How to Check if an Organization Qualifies for GSF
Employers who qualify for GSF are listed in the Public Interest Database on LawNet. If you do not find the employer in the Database, you may request that the employer be approved for GSF by submitting an Organization Request Form.
Students who work at their summer internship beyond the maximum duration allowed by GSF (eight weeks for 1Ls and twelve weeks for 2Ls) may be eligible to receive pro bono credit for this additional uncompensated work. See the FAQs for more information.
Students may receive GSF while splitting a summer between two public interest employers (although this is not a recommended practice). Under very limited circumstances and with prior approval, students may be able to receive GSF if they work for a private sector employer for fewer than 10 days during their summer. Students considering splitting their summers must request approval in advance from Nyaguthii Chege, Director of International, Human Rights, and Summer Programs, and are encouraged to read "How to Decide Whether to Split Your Summer."
Qualifying for GSF
1. Register for GSF
Registration is open September 27 to November 30. You must register for GSF even if you also submit a statement of interest for the Human Rights Internship Program.
2. Attend GSF 1L Mandatory Sessions
How to Find a Job and Get Funded
Presenting Yourself in Writing
Presenting Yourself in Person
Email Iliana Ortega if you were unable to attend a mandatory session.
3. Complete the FAFSA
You must submit the 2019-2020 FAFSA by February 1 if you wish to participate in GSF.
- All U.S. permanent residents and citizens must complete the FAFSA.
- Designate Columbia University (code: 002707) as the recipient school.
- The FAFSA uses your 2017 federal tax data (if applicable). Your parents’ data is not required.
Getting a Job
1. Attend the Public Interest Legal Career Reception
Join fellow students and career advisors from SJI for this lively annual event that brings together students and representatives from numerous organizations and agencies working in public interest, government, and human rights. The event is held every September at Fordham Law School.
There is no need to RSVP or register for the reception in advance. Students attending should not bring resumes and should dress in business casual attire.
2. Meet with an SJI Advisor
Meet with an SJI advisor to discuss your plan for finding a job for the summer. You can meet in person or over the phone. Schedule an appointment via Symplicity.
3. Register for the Public Interest Legal Career (PILC) Fair
Registration opens November 1. Register for the PILC Fair by December 1.
The Fair, held at NYU every February, connects employers and students through interviews for internships and permanent jobs, as well as more informally at information tables, or "table talk." The 2019 Fair will be held on February 7-8. Only students who register for the Fair by December 1 will be able to apply to interview with employers. Registration is free.
4. Review job search tools and resources
5. Apply to summer internships
Apply to 10-15 summer jobs. This number can include jobs you apply to interview for at the PILC Fair.
6. Apply to interview at the PILC Fair
Submit applications by 11:59 p.m. on January 10. You will only be able to apply to interviews if you registered for the PILC Fair by December 1.
7. Register for the Mock Interview Program
Register via Symplicity.
Participate in mock interviews with an attorney from a NYC metro area public interest or public service provider to prepare for summer job interviews. Students will receive feedback on their interview skills, which will be helpful for preparing for interviews at the Public Interest Legal Career Fair. Past interviewers have included lawyers from ACLU, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, and the Bronx Defenders.
8. Attend the PILC Fair
1. Add your placement and supervisor information to LawNet
Important! After accepting a job, you must log into LawNet and update your profile with the following information: employer for whom you will be working and supervisor information. You will not receive funding unless you complete this step! April 15 is the last date to add placement and supervisor information to LawNet. Once you add your placement and supervisor information to LawNet, an automated email will be sent to your supervisor. Your supervisor must confirm your placement via email by April 17. Email Iliana Ortega if you have not accepted an offer by the deadline.
If you cannot find your host organization on the Public Interest Database on LawNet, submit an Organization Request Form to Iliana Ortega.
2. Attend Spring GSF Payment Session
Tues., 3/26 | 12:10-1:10 p.m. | JG 101 | Last Names A-G
Thurs., 3/28 | 12:10-1:10 p.m. | JG 103 | Last Names H-O
Tues., 4/2 | 12:10-1:10 p.m. | JG 103 | Last Names P-Z
Please RSVP for your assigned session on Symplicity.
3. Complete Law School Human Resources Hiring Paperwork
After you have added your placement to LawNet and your supervisor has confirmed it, Columbia Law School Human Resources (HR) will send you hiring paperwork via DocuSign in early April. Complete it as soon as possible and no later than two weeks after receiving. You will only receive hiring paperwork if: You registered for GSF, added your placement and supervisor information on LawNet, and your supervisor has confirmed your placement with SJI. The last date to submit HR hiring paperwork electronically is April 22.
4. Complete I-9 paperwork and verify identification
Complete the online I-9 documents and verify your identification at Kent Hall. When you submit your I-9 documents, list May 20 as your start date, regardless of when you will begin your internship. This step must be completed on campus by April 22.
5. Submit your mailing address and placement start date
Submit your mailing address and placement start date to the GSF Summer Contact Form by May 17.
6. Sign up for direct deposit
If you completed all necessary steps, Law School HR will email you a link to sign up for direct deposit the week of May 20.
7. Begin your job!
The earliest that you can start your internship is May 20.
8. Submit your first timesheet
After your hiring paperwork is processed by Law School HR, you will be emailed a payment schedule and instructions on how to complete online timesheets.
What if I cannot make or miss one of SJI’s mandatory 1L lunch programs?
You must attend the SJI mandatory 1L programming or you jeopardize your eligibility to receive GSF. If you miss a session, you must attend a make-up session. If you miss a make-up session, then you must contact your Primary Advisor at SJI to set up a meeting to reinstate your eligibility for GSF. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure he or she has fulfilled the requirements of GSF.
How do I register for GSF on LawNet?
Please visit LawNet and click on the Funding Registration tab and follow the prompts on the website.
Is there anything I need to do after I have accepted an offer of employment to receive GSF?
Yes, update your LawNet profile with correct supervisor and employment information, fill out the FAFSA (if you are a permanent U.S. resident or citizen), complete the webinars, and fill out the appropriate hiring paperwork sent by Law School Human Resources.
What employers qualify for GSF?
- Nonprofit 501(c)(3) public interest law organizations
- Nonprofit public interest law organizations within their jurisdictions
- Federal, state, municipal, international, and multinational government agencies
- Judicial internships granting no academic credit
- International criminal courts
- Some private public interest law firms
- International human rights work is funded by the Human Rights Internship Program (HRIP), which has different rules and requirements
What employers do not qualify for GSF?
- Internships consisting solely of non-law-related policy or administrative work, research for a professor, or law firm work that does not meet GSF requirements
- Religious organizations or membership agencies
- Internships with a domestic political campaign or a political party
- Judicial internships for academic credit
- Research for a professor
- Non-law-related policy work
- Some private public interest law firms
What if I cannot find my employer on LawNet?
Is there an opportunity for someone to help me find a summer job and look over my resume prior to sending out my summer applications?
Yes. Please use Symplicity to set up an appointment with an SJI advisor.
Is there anything I need to do after completing my summer internship?
Yes: fill out an evaluation form describing your summer experiences.
Should I fill out the 2019-2020 FAFSA even if I don’t have any loans?
Yes. You may be eligible for work-study funding even if you do not borrow loans. Most Columbia students who participate in GSF receive federal work-study funds as part/all of their summer stipend.
Why should I fill out the 2019-2020 FAFSA?
Each year, a substantial portion of the funding for the GSF Program is provided through the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program. Completing the FAFSA allows the Financial Aid Office to determine your eligibility for FWS. The Law School strongly encourages all student interns who are U.S. Citizens or eligible non-residents to file a 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with the federal government. Once processed, the Financial Aid Office will receive your FAFSA data electronically.
If I am not a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-resident, do I still need to submit the FAFSA?
No. Students who are not U.S. citizens or eligible non-residents do not need to fill out the FAFSA.
Will participating in GSF impact my financial aid package and loans for next year?
Possibly. Federal regulations require that summer FWS funds be included as part of a student’s academic year resources. Your summer 2019 FWS allocation will be reflected in your award package for the 2019-20 academic year. As such, any summer FWS earnings will reduce your eligibility for educational student loans by the same amount. However, summer FWS awards will typically only impact students who plan to borrow the maximum educational loans for the academic year. In the event that a borrower’s eligibility for student loans is affected by GSF, the Financial Aid Office will work with each student individually to review their particular situation. In certain cases, students may be able to adjust their academic year budget to allow for additional borrowing to offset the FWS earnings (see below for LRAP considerations). If you are concerned about the impact of FWS on your 2019-20 loan borrowing, please contact the Financial Aid Office. The Financial Aid staff will be happy to review your situation and counsel you accordingly.
If my financial aid situation is reviewed and federal regulations allow the Financial Aid Office staff to adjust my academic year budget for additional borrowing to offset part/all of the FWS earnings, will this budget adjustment/offset impact the educational loans covered by LRAP?
No. A budget adjustment approved by the Financial Aid Office to strictly offset a student’s FWS earnings for the GSF Program will not impact the Columbia Law School policy regarding eligible educational loan debt covered by LRAP.
Can I receive an advance for housing/travel needs?
No, but if you are concerned with your summer financial situation, we encourage you to speak with the Financial Aid Office staff BEFORE the end of the spring term. The office of Social Justice Initiatives is able to offer some assistance with housing and relocation for 2L students who are working their second summer in public interest or public service. Please contact Natalie Stephenson if you have any questions.
Columbia Law School funds first and second year J.D. students, who meet the requirements of the GSF program, to work full-time in public service internships over the summer. Students must adhere to all of the deadlines and meet the requirements of the GSF program in order to receive funding. GSF recipients must work full-time (35 hours per week) over the summer. 1Ls receive funding for 8 weeks of work and 2Ls receive funding for 10 weeks of work
Is there a minimum requirement of weeks I must work in order to receive GSF?
Yes, a 1L GSF recipients must work full-time for 8 weeks to receive full funding (before taxes), and a 2L GSF recipients must work full-time for 10 weeks to receive full funding (before taxes).
Why do I have to take a break?
As a GSF recipient, you will be an hourly employee of Columbia University. A regular workday generally is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with an hour break for lunch. Your break doesn’t necessarily need to be taken when you eat lunch, but a break needs to be taken for an hour.
Will I be paid for hours spent at office social and networking events?
No, if you are not working, hours spent at social and networking events should not be recorded on timesheets. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of all opportunities provided by their summer employer. However, students will receive compensation only for hours worked.
Will I be compensated for extra hours I spend at my summer placement if I work more than 35 hours per week?
When you receive each work assignment, you should confirm with your supervisor the time expectation to complete the assignment. In the event that you are expected to work in excess of the 35 hour per week requirement, your supervisor must seek prior approval for overtime compensation. Provided that happens, you will be paid for actual time worked. Please note that there may be a delay in receiving the overtime compensation.
How do I request overtime hours?
Your supervisor must email the Law School’s human resources department (HR) at [email protected] as soon as it is clear that the work assignment will require more than 40 hours of work that week. The supervisor will be asked to provide the information necessary to justify the additional hours.
Who approves my overtime hours?
Your supervisor will receive a response from HR approving or denying overtime requests.
If I work more than 35 hours per week, can I count those excess hours toward my Columbia pro bono requirement?
No. Students that work in excess of 35 hours per week will not receive pro bono credit for the extra time worked. Columbia pro bono credit accrues only for service in a week that you are not paid. You can receive pro bono credit for time worked beyond the required eight or ten week periods. See the Other Important Considerations for more information.
How will I receive my funding?
All GSF recipients are hourly employees of Columbia University. You will receive payment on a biweekly basis for hours worked.
In order to receive your paycheck, you must submit an online timesheet, approved by your supervisor, by the due date for each period. Your paycheck may be delayed if an incomplete or incorrect timesheet is submitted.
Can I get paid through direct deposit?
Columbia University offers the convenience of having paychecks directly deposited into an employee bank account. You can sign up for direct deposit safely and securely at www.mycolumbia.edu after receiving your first check.
How will I be submitting my timesheets?
Timesheets must be completed online via NextGen.
How will I submit overtime hours?
If your overtime hours have been approved by Law School HR, record any hours worked above 40 hours each week and submit the timesheet as you would regularly via NextGen.
Who approves my timesheets?
Your supervisor must approve your timesheets online.
When should I expect to receive my first payment?
Refer to the payment schedule provided by HR to map out when you will receive your first payment. If your timesheets are submitted on time, you should be paid biweekly after receiving your first paycheck.
Will taxes be deducted from my paycheck?
Yes. Your funding through GSF is treated as taxable earnings and reported to the IRS by the university.
As a 1L, I thought I would receive $5,600* for my eight-week internship, so why was I paid less than that amount? As a 2L, I thought I would receive $7,000* for my ten week internship, so why was I paid less than that amount?
As an hourly Columbia employee, you are paid for actual hours worked. In order for a 1L to receive $5,600, they must work 35 hours a week for eight weeks; a 2L must work 35 hours a week for ten weeks in order to receive $7,000. You will be paid less if you work less than 35 hours a week due to sickness, office closings, or holidays. Students should speak with their supervisors to schedule time to make up lost days. Also, as mentioned above, your summer earnings will be taxed.
What do I do if I have trouble completing the timesheet or I believe my paycheck is incorrect?
You should contact HR at [email protected].
How can I make sure I receive funding in a timely fashion?
Enroll in the university’s payroll direct deposit. [NOTE: This is a different direct deposit process than the university’s student account direct deposit system.]
How do I enroll in payroll direct deposit?
You will receive instructions from Law School HR by email about how to enroll in payroll direct deposit.
What happens if I do not enroll in the payroll direct deposit?
If you are working in the NYC metro area, your checks will be held by SJI until you are able to physically pick them up.
Is there an online system where I can view my paycheck?
You can view your paystub by logging in with your UNI at www.mycolumbia.edu. Click on the “Faculty and Staff” tab to find a link to “View My Paycheck.”
Other Important Considerations
Can I get additional funding?
Some employers, foundations, and other funders offer additional support for summer work. Students can apply for funding from their host employer or from outside sources. Below are summer fellowship opportunities that are available to Columbia Law students.
- Center for Japanese Legal Studies Public Interest Fellowship (1Ls & 2Ls): The Center for Japanese Legal Studies Public Interest Fellowship is open to first- and second-year law students who demonstrate an interest in working in Japan in public interest law over the summer. Up to two fellowships are available each year. Each provides a $10,000 stipend for airfare, living, and other expenses. This funding has been awarded for 2019.
- John R. Oldham Fellowship (1Ls & 2Ls): Administered by the Center for Chinese Legal Studies, this fellowship supports first- and second-year law students doing summer work in greater China, either in public interest (including government) or academic research. Applications consist of a resume, transcripts, a two-page summary of the proposed project, an estimated budget, and whether funding will be received from another source (such as WEAI). Learn more about the John R. Oldham Fellowship. Learn more about the John R. Oldham Fellowship. Applications are due March 15.
- Venable, LLP (1Ls): The Venable Fellowship offers a stipend to a first-year Columbia Law School student in the J.D. program who demonstrates a commitment to public interest and who is registered in the GSF program. The fellowship will provide a total of $10,000 for ten weeks of work in an unpaid, public interest summer internship in the United States. Learn more about the Venable, LLP Fellowship. Applications are due April 15 by 3 p.m.
- Catalyst Public Service Fellowships (1Ls): The New York Bar Foundation funds these summer fellowships to students working at qualifying organizations and agencies, allowing 1L summer interns to receive additional compensation for ten weeks of work instead of the standard eight. Preference will be given to first year students. You do not need a confirmed placement to apply. Learn more about the Catalyst Public Service Fellowship. Applications are due April 3 by 3 p.m. Late applications will be considered on a rolling basis.
Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship (1Ls): The John Paul Stevens Fellowship was established in 2011 by the John Paul Stevens Foundation to enable law students to work in otherwise unpaid public interest summer law positions for ten weeks. Two students are named to the Stevens Fellowship each year; the Fellowship is part of a nationwide program to honor Justice Stevens' lifelong dedication to improving the justice system. Learn more about the Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship. Applications are due April 15 by 3 p.m.
When is the Early Interview Program (EIP)? Will that affect my GSF if I choose to participate?
Students planning to participate in EIP should plan their internships accordingly. GSF requirements (8 weeks of work for 1Ls and 10 weeks of work for 2Ls) should be completed in early August prior to EIP, or students can make arrangements with their placement.
What if I plan to apply for Law Review?
Students should arrange their summer so that they are able to complete at least eight weeks in a placement organization before returning to school in mid-to-late July for Law Review Orientation.
Your GSF-funded work will fulfill the "50-Hour Rule" pro bono requirement provided that it otherwise qualifies under the New York State Rule. The Rule requires completion of 50 hours of qualifying pro bono work prior to filing for bar admission. For many of you, the work you do during your GSF-funded summer will qualify for the New York 50-hour rule (but not for the Columbia Law School requirement). You must also complete a Form Affidavit of Compliance that describes your work and is signed by your supervising attorney (details below). You can find more detailed information about the New York State Pro Bono Requirement on the SJI website. If you have any questions about whether your work is likely to qualify under the New York rule, contact Laren Spirer, Director of Pro Bono Programs, at [email protected]. Also be sure to read the full New York rule and FAQs on the Court's website.
Do I need to collect any paperwork from my employer during the summer to get credit for the New York State Pro Bono requirement?
As soon as you have completed your placement, you should complete a Form Affidavit of Compliance, which includes a signature from your supervising attorney (who must be admitted in the jurisdiction where the work is being done). You must keep this original form in your files until you submit it along with your New York State Bar paperwork. You should scan a copy in case you misplace the original, but originals are required for your Bar application.
If I stay longer at my GSF placement and am not paid, do I need to collect any paperwork from my employer to get pro bono credit for the Columbia pro bono requirement?
Yes, you must complete an Exit Questionnaire and have your supervisor complete a Supervisor's Report, but ONLY record the hours beyond the weeks you were funded through GSF. The Exit Questionnaire and Supervisor’s Report are on LawNet. Under the Social Justice Initiatives section of “My Services," click on "Pro Bono Status." Click on "Fill out Exit Questionnaire" to complete the Exit Questionnaire electronically. Once you have successfully completed your Exit Questionnaire, you will receive a prompt to send a Supervisor’s Report to your supervisor for completion. You may also request a Supervisor’s Report by clicking on the “Action” button next to the relevant placement on your Pro Bono Status page and selecting “Request Supervisor’s Report.” Once your supervisor completes the Supervisor’s Report, SJI will approve your hours and your profile will automatically be updated on LawNet. Important note: Pro bono hours will not be credited until both mandatory forms (Exit Questionnaire and Supervisor’s Report) have been submitted and approved by SJI. Both the Exit Questionnaire and Supervisor’s Report must be submitted within 30 days of project completion, whether for mandatory or voluntary credit.