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Pro Bono Work, Internships, and Externships

Hands-on legal experience through Stanford Law’s pro bono program, summer internships, and an externship program for second- and third year students provide career-shaping opportunities to sharpen legal skills, develop professional values, and experience law’s impact in the real world.

I came to Stanford to explore different substantive areas of law, and embraced the opportunity to intern for both the Department of Justice and the ACLU during my first summer. Through my work analyzing government contracts and litigating civil rights cases, I gained a great deal of practical experience and insight. Significantly, the perspective I gained working for organizations with differing (and sometimes conflicting) values helped me to better develop my own goals. As I enter my second year of law school, I am much more confident in my direction as a student and a professional.


“At the beginning of 1L year, law school can be a bit overwhelming. The newness of everything—legal doctrine, class discussions, thinking like a lawyer—at times made it hard to keep sight of the passion for social justice that brought me to law school. But participating in the Housing Pro Bono program beginning my 1L fall helped keep me grounded, and it showed me very early on in my legal career how what I was learning in the classroom could be put to work for clients who desperately needed help that only an attorney could provide. Through the program, I aided clients facing eviction and struggling with uninhabitable conditions by working with them to draft demand letters to their landlords and contacting local code enforcement officials. These experiences both reaffirmed my decision to come to law school and whetted my appetite for the many other public interest opportunities Stanford offers.”

Brian P. Goldman ’10

Laura Heiman

Like most people in the public interest community, I do my best work when I’m passionate about the causes I’m advancing. My summer clerkship at Public Citizen Litigation Group allowed me to take the legal skills I acquired in my first year at Stanford and put them to work advocating for consumer rights, access to courts, and free speech through impact litigation. I worked on everything from a Supreme Court case on federal jurisdiction to the Chrysler bankruptcy litigation as part of a small, cooperative team of career public interest lawyers on the front lines of the fight to protect and advance civil rights and civil liberties. Next summer, I’ll continue my appellate litigation training at a private firm before heading to the ACLU Women’s Rights Project to do some legislative and lobbying work.


“Stanford Law opens a world of opportunities to work in international law and policy. Through the externship program, I earned full academic credit while working in the Office of the President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. A concurrent long-distance tutorial with one of the law school’s international law professors enriched the experience. After leaving The Hague, I spent the summer in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, which allowed me to work on international legal issues on this side of the ocean. I’ve since accepted an offer to return to the State Department to advise on international legal issues after graduation.”

Max Rettig ’10

Michael Caesar

My experience working for the District of Columbia’s Public Defender Service last summer was amazing. It was a wonderful opportunity to get hands-on experience in legal writing and client contact, and an understanding of the everyday process of managing cases and trials from beginning to end. The public interest staff at Stanford and the Levin Center were instrumental in helping me obtain the job and make a seamless transition to professional legal work. From in-school trainings to information sessions and pro bono activities, I walked into my first day at PDS prepared and confident. I do not believe that the close-knit community at Stanford and the support for public interest could be duplicated at any other law school.


“Stanford has been overwhelmingly supportive of my commitment to public interest law. From the minute I stepped on campus, I have received advice and encouragement from professors, the Levin Center, and students in the public interest community. Stanford’s generous financial aid funding allowed me to spend my first summer doing prisoner rights litigation. I could afford to get an apartment in Los Angeles and even enjoy the city a bit outside of work.”

Zoe Palitz ’10

Stephen Michael Dekovich

The academics at Stanford are top quality, no doubt about it. But when I think of what I learned in my first year as a law student, I think first of the stories I heard about life in the Tenderloin from an inmate in the San Francisco County Jail during my internship with the Public Defender. I think of the [Stanford Law School] Social Security Disability Project and the long conversations I had with my first client about her fears and her isolation. I also think of the clients in the Guardianship Pro Bono Program who spoke so openly about their struggles to keep their families together through difficult times. These pro bono and internship experiences have shown me what the law should be and do for people. My experience at Stanford Law has been about what these individuals have taught me, and I am grateful to the Levin Center for making it possible for me to meet them and work for them from the very beginning of my first year.