Public Interest Law Fund Fellowships
Several types of fellowships are available to students participating in public interest work, including the student-run Public Interest Law Fund (PILF), which funds students at organizations throughout the country and internationally, such as the recent placements below.
Samuel “Trey” Manning III '20
PILF Fellowship Placement: Pennsylvania Innocence Project—Pittsburgh, PA
“This fellowship reinforced my commitment to improving the criminal justice system through the practice of criminal law. I am glad I got to experience first-hand how dangerous wrongful conviction can be to not only the individual, but also to society at large, as well.”
Samuel “Trey” Manning is grateful for having the opportunity to work with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. During his time with the Project, he conducted document retrievals, read trial transcripts, and drafted an in-depth investigative report that evaluated the innocence claim of an individual convicted in the mid 90’s for the murder of a confidential police informant. Manning saw first-hand how crucial the Project is to the legal community. “Being able to advocate for an individual who is in prison made me feel like I was making a difference.”
Andrea Jenkins '19
PILF Fellowship Placement: Opioid Action Plan—Wilmington, NC
“This summer, I was able to take part in meaningful public policy work addressing the Opioid Action Plan in North Carolina. It was inspiring to witness and take part in the state’s innovative approach to addressing this issue.”
A fellowship during the summer before her final year of law school allowed Andrea Jenkins to learn that in public interest work, she needs to anticipate failure, appreciate success, and always keep advocacy her top priority. When the ominous warnings against loose opioid prescribing regulations became reality, she chose to look optimistically at policy efforts addressing the crisis. Jenkins helped to draft a data sharing agreement that connected New Hanover Medical Center to local nonprofits aimed at improving the welfare and health of individuals affected by substance use disorder. “Advocating for a voiceless but worthy cause is a great honor, and I will cherish this experience.”
Bob Gavin '20
PILF Fellowship Placement: Legal Aid Society of New York City—New York, NY
“Prior to attending law school, I knew that I wanted to work with juvenile populations in underserved communities, so this position was exactly what I wanted to do. Little did I know when I began how much I would gain from this summer experience.”
From motion practice and permanency hearings to conferences and client interviews, Bob Gavin was exposed to all aspects of various cases during his fellowship in the Juvenile Rights Practice, Bronx Trial Office. He also experienced his first victory in the Bronx Family Court while working on one of the most impactful cases of his summer—a victory that he later found out would likely mean the case would be adjourned and ultimately dismissed. “Families come to this court in child protection matters because of difficult circumstances. Part of the job is to help move them forward on the continuum, even if just a small step. And when you’re able to help that family take that small step, it’s all worth it.”
Tyler Ritchie '20
PILF Fellowship Placement:Southeast Louisiana Legal Services—Baton Rouge, LA
“Over the summer, I worked alongside a group of attorneys dedicated to providing legal services to those most in need. When one faces a legal issue that they do not know how to resolve, but lacks the resources to hire a private attorney, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services is there to help.”
While Tyler Ritchie’s day-to-day duties included interviewing clients, researching legal questions, and drafting court documents for the supervising attorneys, he primarily worked on succession and bankruptcy cases as part of the General Civil Law Unit. His work contributed to massive flood victims being able to successfully inherit their home and receive government aid, and allowed individuals in some of the direst financial circumstances receive a fresh start. “Many cases I saw over the summer came about from people being taken advantage of, but the oppressors were not criminally culpable. Without legal services, low-income populations would be subject to many predatory practices such as unlawful evictions, predatory lending, and unjust denial of benefits.” Upon completing his first internship in the field, Ritchie now aspires to work on appellate level litigation or with a smaller nonprofit that is devoted to a specific cause.
Becoming a Public Interest Advocate
Students at Dickinson Law perform pro bono services for nonprofits, law firms, government, and legal services agencies. As a way of celebrating your commitment to the community, once you’ve completed at least 60 hours of qualifying service, you’ll become eligible to apply for certification as a Public Interest Advocate.
Students who complete a minimum of 60 hours of service can receive recognition for their work in any qualifying public interest law setting, even if they have received credit or compensation for the work. Special recognition will be given to those students who complete at least 60 hours without receiving compensation.
All students must report their qualifying work to the Miller Center Pro Bono Program, and specifically apply for recognition as a Public Interest Advocate. Public Interest Advocates are recognized at a formal reception as well as at graduation. Learn more.