College of Public Interest Law (CPIL)
Pacific Legal Foundation introduced its College of Public Interest Law in 1979, offering fellowships to outstanding law school graduates who desired hands-on experience in public interest litigation. Since that time, over 70 young attorneys have passed through the program on their way to private practice, public agency law, or a permanent position with Pacific Legal Foundation. While matriculation in the program has varied over time, PLF recently committed to a long-term policy of offering two Fellowships each Fall.
Each Fellow is paired with an experienced attorney mentor, who assists the Fellow as he or she participates in hands-on litigation, including lead attorney responsibilities in both trial level and appellate cases. Fellows also prepare a law review article of publishable quality, as a means to increase their own in-depth expertise of the legal issues which they litigate, as well as adding to the legal scholarship frequently relied on by judges. Fellows also receive on-site training in both substantive legal doctrine and the practice of law for MCLE credit.
Starting salary is $60,000, plus benefits. Fellows also are entitled to defer payment of principal and interest on subsidized student loans and to defer payment of principal on unsubsidized student loans.
PLF begins the recruitment process 13 months before the September start date for new Fellows. Fellowship announcements are posted on the career development office websites of all accredited law schools nationwide. For those schools that lack interactive websites, PLF mails or faxes the announcements. PLF also e-mails announcements to the leaders of all Federalist Society student chapters nationwide and sends open letters to the chambers of judges whose clerks might be good matches for a fellowship. Finally, PLF avails itself of the resources of our sister organizations, sending job announcements through the Institute for Justice’s Human Action Network, the Heritage Foundation Job Bank, and the Institute for Humane Studies Liberty Guide/ Job Board. The announcements are re-posted and re-sent as necessary though the Fall and Winter.
Applicants are required to submit a resume and a personal statement explaining why they are interested in PLF in general, and in a postgraduate fellowship in the College of Public Interest Law in particular. The applicants also must describe what distinguishes themselves from a typical or average student at their school. Once received, applicant materials are forwarded to the hiring committee. Members of the committee review the resumes and personal statements and contact the most promising applicants with a request for a writing sample and references. Applicants who demonstrate outstanding research and writing skills are invited to interview. The interviews last a full day and include individual discussions with members of senior management, staff attorneys, current Fellows, and human resources. The hiring committee then meets and decides which applicants will be extended an offer. This is an ongoing process until both slots are filled.