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Public Interest Law

UC Davis School of Law has always attracted faculty and students committed to using the power of the law to address injustices and solve problems faced by the poor, the disabled, consumers, the elderly, and those who lack equal access to the legal system. The School of Law is known for its dedication to the ideals of social justice, equality, and public service espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which dates back at least to 1969, when the Law School building was named after Dr. King.  From the earliest years through to the present, the excellence of King Hall’s Public Interest Law area of concentration has been one of the School of Law’s most proud attributes.

The Public Interest Law area of concentration provides education for public interest and public sector careers, as well as an overview of various ways lawyers can advance the interests of underrepresented groups and communities.

The Law School offers a Public Service Law Certificate Program for students with a demonstrated commitment to serving the public, as well as financial support for recent graduates pursuing public interest work. Program candidates must complete a minimum of 15 credits of public service coursework from an approved course list and a minimum of 175 hours of legal work in public interest organizations, government agencies, or courts. Financial aid programs include the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), which offers repayment assistance for not only law school debt but also loans received for undergraduate and other graduate-level study, and the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan.

Students in the Public Interest concentration have ample opportunities to supplement their classroom work with experiential learning. Many choose to become involved in the Law School’s Immigration Law Clinic, Civil Rights Clinic, Prison Law Clinic, or Family Protection Clinic, and many are also involved in the Humanitarian Aid Legal Organization (HALO), ACLU at King Hall, and other student organizations.

The King Hall Legal Foundation (KHLF) is a non-profit law student organization dedicated to promoting public interest legal work and making it possible for law students to address the needs of those without adequate access to legal services. KHLF raises funds to award grants that support outstanding Public Interest law students as they work summer externships in their areas of interest.

King Hall students with a concentration in Public Interest Law join a network of graduates with diverse, rewarding careers. UC Davis law alumni who studied public interest law work in legal aid organizations, nonprofits, public defender offices, and similar roles all over the nation.