Through our unpaid internship program, Public Interest Law Center interns have an opportunity to work on substantive projects that make a real difference in the lives of our clients.
At the Law Center, you’ll gain experience in civil rights law and learn the inner workings of one of Philadelphia’s premier public interest firms. You’ll become part of a close-knit group of attorneys, advocates, and others committed to social justice. Law Center attorneys and staff are committed to helping train the next generation of civil rights attorneys, advocates, and nonprofit leaders.
The Law Center is an equal opportunity employer and encourages all candidates to apply regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, or status with regard to public assistance.
Internships (Undergraduate, Graduate and Law Students)
Up to 10 unpaid summer internships are available. These internships typically run from May through early September, depending on each intern’s school schedule. During the spring and fall semesters, interns are expected to commit to a regularly scheduled 10-20 hours per week to the Law Center.
We invite all interns to observe trials, hearings, and meetings with clients and other advocacy organizations. In addition, working with a staff mentor, interns will be assigned projects in all six project areas, as well as communications and administration. Below is a sample list of the work interns may do during the summer.
Law Students (We prefer 2Ls but will consider 1Ls):
- Research and summarize cases
- Read and summarize transcripts from depositions or hearings
- Legal research on a variety of civil rights issues and legal procedures
- Draft briefs and fee petitions
- Assist in responding to discovery
- Interview prospective witnesses
- Draft op-eds or reports
College and Graduate Students:
- Research topics from government policies to prospective funding sources
- Attend legislative meetings
- Analyze data and prepare charts and graphs on a variety of topics
- Summarize transcripts
- Support community-based campaigns and coalition building
- Conduct neighborhood “ground truthing” for the Garden Justice Legal Initiative
- Draft content for website, e-newsletters, social media, and donor communications
- Assist with event planning (both community-based and fundraising events)
- Conduct outreach calls
How to Apply
For Summer Interns: Apply by January 30th
For Fall Interns: Apply by June 1st
For Spring Interns: Apply by November 1st
This is a competitive process and we will select candidates on a rolling basis as we receive applications.
To apply, submit a letter, resume and writing sample to:
Jennifer R. Clarke, Executive Director
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia
United Way Building
1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Second Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
The Law Center will also accept interns, externs and pro bono students interested in a specific topic on a case-by-case basis. Please send a resume and cover letter to:
- Communications and Development — email@example.com
- Disabilities Law — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Garden Justice Legal Initiative — email@example.com
Hear from our past interns!
Michaela Drust, Julia R. Masterman High School, Class of 2015
I am delighted to say that throughout my two weeks with the Public Interest Law Center, I have not only learned a multitude of valuable information, but I am now certain that I will chose to pursue a career in the legal strata. Everybody at the Public Interest Law Center, from the attorneys to the administrative staff, made me feel very welcomed and included in all of the various activities, even inviting me to sit in on phone conferences. I am very appreciative and grateful of the work that the Public Interest Law Center does to serve the members of the Philadelphia community, and I hope to someday join the league of pro bono lawyers who are fighting for justice.
Mereb Russom, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2016
I had a great experience working at the Public Interest Law Center. The biggest personal goal I had was to make this internship a meaningful learning experience for myself and take every opportunity I could to really understand the legal profession. I feel like I was able to accomplish that goal, and a lot of that has to do with the people in this office. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate how involved everyone in this office allowed me to be on the various cases and projects the Public Interest Law Center was taking on. I was never told to simply complete a task but was always given the opportunity to learn about the background of a particular case, go to hearings, etc.
Overall this has undoubtedly been an invaluable learning experience for me, and I’m leaving being even more excited about the prospect of going to law school.
Kristi Hallowell, Villanova University, Class of 2015
With a driven spirit, the Public Interest Law Center has been able to reach all corners of the city of Philadelphia helping those in most need of fair, legal assistance. As an intern, I had the opportunity to become familiar with these cases by preparing briefs, attorney-client correspondences, and researching policies and regulations regarding the cases. In addition to these responsibilities, I was grateful for the attorneys’ guidance when drafting documents and making phone calls. Working at the Public Interest Law Center, I found a perfect balance of supervision from the attorneys and freedom to develop my own writing and communication skills. I was also exposed to legal procedures and formalities and was given hands-on opportunities to actively participate in and contribute to these events. Highlights at the Public Interest Law Center included attending various client meetings, hearings at the Department of Education, and sitting in on a policy hearing at City Hall. As a Spanish-speaking intern, I was able to interact directly via phone calls with Spanish-speaking clients and had the opportunity to practice my skills with verbal and written translations and interpretations. In addition to a hard-working and motivated environment, the staff is incredibly welcoming and friendly, making sure that all members feel at home in the office. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work here at the Public Interest Law Center and would highly recommend the experience to anyone wishing to pursue a career in law or volunteer for a fantastic mission.
Andrew D’Aversa, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2017
My experience at the Law Center has been, undoubtedly, the most fulfilling part of my first year in law school. While law school may help teach you many skills, it can never adequately mimic real practice. The Law Center was able to fill that gap and give me a taste of the life of a public interest lawyer. At the Law Center, I was able to work with stellar public interest attorneys, research and apply law to real litigation, and even attend hearings and client meetings. In addition, I received a crash course in education law and an understanding of just how important education law is to the lives of children and parents.
Meghan Kelley, Drexel University, Class of 2014
My fellowship at the Law Center was truly an invaluable experience. It not only developed my legal analysis skills, but also challenged me to think about legal problems creatively, communicate clearly and concisely, and advocate for clients passionately and effectively. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned while at the Law Center is that law is not practiced in a vacuum. Everyone at the Law Center embraces the idea that public interest advocacy is about people; the people you work alongside with, advocate for, and communicate with on a daily basis make the legal work meaningful. I look forward to carrying this lesson with me during my next steps, and am grateful for the opportunity to have been associated with and mentored by such an excellent organization.
Aaron Marks, New York University, Class of 2013
As both a Philadelphian and an aspiring law student, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have spent an enlightening and exhilarating semester interning at PILCOP. Many legal organizations forgo offering substantive legal experience to students who are not yet in law school; PILCOP is not one of them. During my internship, I enjoyed providing substantive input on work products ranging from a press release announcing litigation against the PA Department of Education, to an amicus brief in a Medicaid case before the US Supreme Court. Even more valuable than the work experience was the vast educational value available to interns. Within my first month, I observed a PILCOP case argued before the PA Supreme Court.
PILCOP lacks the hierarchical strata one might find in other legal organizations; this relatively flat structure is a boon for interns, as every attorney is no more than a few steps and a door’s knock away. Despite the heavy workload shouldered by the staff attorneys, they are always open to questions about anything from a specific case to more general, “life as a lawyer” questions. Whereas many organizations might treat interns as no more than human Xerox machines, at PILCOP I always felt my work (even when it did involve the occasional trip to the copier) was respected and appreciated. I implore anyone who desires to work with brilliant legal professionals, using the legal tools we have to represent those who need it most, to set their sights on an internship at PILCOP.
Renee Norman, COPAA SEAT Practicum
My experience at The Law Center was very rewarding. I came to the Law Center, having just finished my COPAA SEAT classes, to intern with Sonja Kerr to complete my SEAT Practicum. Under her guidance, I completed a records review, attended an IEP meeting, attorney meeting, parent intake meeting, due process hearing and federal hearing. I worked on an outreach project and a five-day assignment. I also completed projects interviewing special education attorneys representing both the parents and the school districts and an overview of dyslexia programs and teaching strategies. The knowledge and insight this experience provided cannot be matched. My gratitude goes out to the Law Center staff for sharing their expertise and time.
Tiffany Ferrette, Villanova University, Class of 2015
I had a wonderful experience as an intern at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. The dedicated staff was so welcoming and supportive, and I had the opportunity to learn about the amazing work that is going on here from specific cases, to development and communications. This experience was invaluable and will definitely help me later on in life. I was challenged to work on things in which I had no prior experience and was encouraged throughout my time here. I greatly appreciate the opportunities that were given to me, and I highly recommend getting involved with the Law Center!
Sarah Morrissey, Penn Law, Class of 2015
This summer has been an incredibly rewarding experience. During my time at the Law Center, I researched legal issues including Medicaid compliance and enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). I also reviewed and analyzed student records to assess a school district’s compliance with IDEA regulations on progress reporting. This summer the Law Center was working on the case for the permanent injunction against the Voter ID law, and I got to watch a day of the trial in Harrisburg, which was really interesting. I really enjoyed working with the attorneys at the Law Center. They are incredibly accomplished and highly regarded in their fields, and I appreciated that they valued our input on cases and made sure that we learned as much as possible during our time here.
Margaret Huang, New York University, Class of 2015
I had a fantastic time working at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. The staff is passionate, engaging and knowledgeable. I felt the work that I was doing was substantive and followed the voter ID trial from the initial search for witnesses to the trial where those witnesses were put on the stand. The lawyers I worked with were great mentors. They gave constructive feedback on the work that was done for them and always made sure to keep us engaged. I immensely enjoyed my experience at the Law Center.
Nora Mahlberg, Harvard Law, Class of 2015
I had a wonderful summer working at the Law Center. I got the chance to delve into new legal areas and hone many valuable legal skills. I was able to draft a brief, a variety of legal memoranda, write blog articles to assist community gardening groups in reclaiming vacant lots in their neighborhood, and write a literature review on existing legal scholarship on urban agriculture raising areas for further research and study. My summer experience was enriched by the opportunities to sit in on a trial preparation meeting for the Pennsylvania voter ID trial, and observe a day of that trial later in the summer. The people at the Law Center are dedicated and passionate about their work, and their doors are always open. The interns really felt like a part of the organization and its work.
Kristen Valosky, Georgetown Law, Class of 2015
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to intern with the Law Center this summer and could not have asked for a better experience. Not only did I improve my legal research and writing skills by working on memos, due process complaints, and briefs that had direct implications for students with disabilities threatened with deprivation of quality services, but I also witnessed the power of passionate advocates using the law as an agent of social justice. Attending the trial where Law Center attorneys challenged Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law, witnessing the launch of a community gardening initiative, and sitting in on strategy meetings with clients and other attorneys revealed the countless ways that lawyers impact policies, provide support to individuals, and unite communities. I would heartily recommend this internship to anyone considering a career in public interest law. They would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated group of people working to empower Philadelphia citizens.
Margaret Hadley, Middlebury College, Class of 2015
My experience this summer has been so much more than envelope-stuffing. Every day I felt that I was given meaningful assignments that helped to foster valuable skills. The office environment is warm and energetic; both the people and the work have made my time here an exciting learning experience that I am sad to see end.
Elias Kohn, University of Southern California, Class of 2012
An internship with the Law Center provides a stimulating experience where interns may contribute to the Law Center by doing work they are interested in. As a prospective law student interested in environmental work, I was excited that I could help with the Law Center’s efforts to facilitate vacant lot transitions into community gardens and familiarize myself with Grounded in Philly, the garden-mapping device the Law Center created this summer. The Law Center also facilitates a range of learning opportunities for interns. For example, we traveled to Harrisburg to attend the very publicized voter ID trial, observed oral arguments before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, attended panel discussions during lunch once a week, and participated in weekly meetings. Working in a setting alongside current law students and communications interns provided a great opportunity to meet new people with similar interests. The permanent staff at the Law Center are all wonderful people accomplishing great things who were very kind and allowed a flexible schedule for me, due to some unexpected changes in my availability. A productive office environment that is also friendly and educational, I highly recommend volunteering, interning, donating and/or becoming involved with the Law Center in some manner for the great work they are doing and all they have to offer.
Steven Sparber, Brandeis University, Class of 2012
The Law Center is one of the most fruitful environments I’ve had the privilege of experiencing. There are always events and projects to get involved in—court hearings, panel discussions, trial reporting. Moreover, there is an opportunity to gain exposure to the most important issues affecting Pennsylvania’s citizens. In this respect, interns are really immersed in the Law Center’s work.
The attorneys at PILCOP are conscious of their role as teachers. Their dedication to the public interest translates into a culture that fosters hard work, openness, and consideration. I will always remember my internship at the Law Center for these qualities.
Robert Liu, Stanford University, Class of 2014
Working at PILCOP was an exhilarating and intellectually stimulating experience. I had the opportunity to learn immensely about many areas of law and public policy, including voter ID, special education, and healthcare access. All the people at PILCOP were extremely accessible and enthusiastic about their work, and were willing to involve me deeply in their projects. I did work on the voter ID case, attended meetings with special education advocates and lawyers, and was fortunate enough to witness the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s hearing on the voter ID law. Overall, it was a valuable experience.
Jacob Godshall, Cornell University, Class of 2014
“I found my summer at PILCOP to be extremely valuable and rewarding. It was truly special to be a part of an organizing whose lawyers were so passionate and hardworking. As an undergraduate, I did not know much about public interest law coming in, but by the end of the summer, I felt that I had learned a lot and got a chance to do some great work. The lawyers were fearless about taking on big cases such as Voter ID and trusting to give their interns considerable responsibilities. I interviewed witnesses, attended depositions, participated in policy circles, and served as PILCOP’s representative at Voter ID coalition meetings. I came away from this internship at PILCOP with a real understanding of how litigation works and an inspired sense of how the law can be used to enact important change for the public good. A great way to spend the summer!”
Lauren Hoff, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Class of 2014
“This summer, I really enjoyed having hands on experience in legal research and writing for cases that I felt passionate about. I most enjoyed writing a brief in support of a summary judgment motion on behalf of parents who paid excessive fines for their children’s truancy. It was really interesting to be able to follow this case throughout the summer, from preparing our clients to testify and attending the class certification hearing, to filing dispositive motions and responses.”
Aviva Reinfeld, Stanford Law Class of 2012
“Externing at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia gave me the benefits of learning about many areas of law in a practical setting. Everyone at the Law Center is welcoming and inclusive. The attorneys are skilled, passionate, and hardworking, yet they were always eager to give me new assignments and responsibilities and include me in their work. Not only did I improve my research and writing skills, I also participated in client meetings, attended a deposition and hearing, assisted in trial preparation, and even served as a representative for the Law Center in a coalition to protect voting rights in Pennsylvania. Being at the Law Center full-time gives you a unique perspective into what it means to be a public interest lawyer. The attorneys valued my assistance, gave me feedback and helped me learn and grow as a budding attorney…Now that I have returned to school, I approach my courses with renewed purpose and a fresh perspective. I can’t think of a better way to spend a semester!”
Kaitlyn Maxwell, Boston University School of Law, Class of 2012
“My summer internship at PILCOP exceeded my expectations. I truly hit the ground running and was provided a variety of hands-on assignments and experiences. I attended a school IEP meeting, reviewed discovery documents, observed attorneys during a deposition, researched substantive and procedural issues to assist attorneys in drafting pleadings and motions, and attended a board meeting. I was inspired by the passion and commitment of the PILCOP staff members. The weekly staff meetings were a great way to gain insight regarding current cases and upcoming initiatives. The attorneys discussed challenges in their cases and welcomed comments and questions from other staff members and interns. PILCOP’s skilled litigators are also wonderful teachers. The attorneys provided meaningful learning experiences by outlining background information for each assignment and answering questions to ensure that I not only had the information I needed to complete the assignment, but that I also learned about the litigation process. I highly recommend a summer at PILCOP to law students seeking a dynamic and rewarding internship.”
Jeremy Garson, Michigan Law School Class of 2014
“I could go on and on about what makes the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia so great, but what it truly comes down to can be summarized in three words; competence, passion and kindness. As a prospective law student, I have been told over and over again that the law is a grinding, cut-throat field. While I am still fairly sure that is true in 99% of cases, PILCOP proves that great things can be accomplished in the law with a smile on your face and a sense of humanity in your heart.”
Nathaniel T. Hopkins, Northwestern University School of Law, Class of 2013
“I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to spend an entire semester as a full-time law student intern at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. The thirteen weeks I have spent here are without a doubt the highlight of my time as a law student. The Law Center is always working on a wide variety of interesting and impactful issues, and the small size of the office means that interns have the opportunity to do significant work alongside stellar civil rights attorneys. During my time here, I have met with clients, interviewed witnesses for hearings, drafted a Third Circuit brief, composed opinion letters, written over a dozen intra-office memos and much more. I don’t think there are many other places where a law student can have such an engaging internship experience. I may have learned as much from one semester at the Law Center as I did from the rest of law school put together.”