The Public Service Scholars Program prepares future lawyers for the practice of law in public service through a comprehensive program, throughout the duration of law school, which supports and encourages students in developing the skills necessary to serve as effective advocates and leaders. It exposes students to some of the most important and exciting issues in public service law through a range of events, including informal luncheons and a speaker series featuring distinguished advocates in the field, as well as through faculty, student, and alumni mentoring. Public Service Scholars are expected to take an active role in organizing and developing the programs events, drawing on the unique interests and expertise that they bring to the law school. As important as any of these events, the program provides a community within the law school for those dedicated to public service.
Admission to the Public Service Scholars program is highly selective. Selection criteria include academic achievement and a demonstrated commitment to public service. Students who are accepted into the program come with diverse backgrounds and interests, and many bring to the program prior experience in public interest organizations, nonprofits and government work.
Students are encouraged to apply to the program prior to entering the law school as first-year law students. The vast majority of Public Service Scholars will be selected from the entering classes of law students, although a few positions are available each year for rising second-year law students.
The application for admission to Public Service Scholars is available now to the incoming 1L class (both Fall and May entry). The application priority deadline is July 15. We will consider applications submitted after the priority deadline on a space-available basis. Applications should be submitted by email to the faculty advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org. Application material can be found here:
Public Service Scholars are offered assistance in securing internships in the public sector following their first and second years of law school. Scholars have worked in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental settings including judicial chambers; public interest organizations; federal, state and local agencies; civil rights and environmental organizations; and criminal defense and family law firms. Funding for public sector summer internships is available for all 1L and 2L students through participation in our annual Public Service Auction fundraising effort. Since 2003, Cardozo has funded all eligible students for summer internship work in the public sector.
Public Service Scholars attend lunches that provide an informal opportunity to meet and engage with public service advocates from outside the law school, faculty with public service experience, and other students. These lunches serve to introduce the Scholars to public service opportunities at Cardozo and beyond and to explore current public service issues. In addition, Public Service Scholars assist in organizing the Distinguished Public Service speaker series, a program of school-wide lectures provided by nationally known public service advocates. Past events have included discussions with Cardozo faculty, judges, government attorneys, authors and lawyers from civil rights and other non-governmental organizations.
Mentoring and Social Events
The program provides a strong support system throughout law school. First-year Public Service Scholars are matched with an upper-class Public Service Scholar mentor. This relationship helps ease the transition of the first year of law school and fosters a collegial program. Scholars are also matched with faculty and alumni mentors who provide guidance and support. Public Service Scholars alumni become part of a network that provides opportunities for social events and informal job counseling, and current Scholars periodically arrange off-campus social events.
All Public Service Scholars are invited to an annual dinner where, in an intimate setting, selected faculty and guests discuss emerging public service issues with prominent public service professionals. Dean’s Dinner lectures have been delivered by, among others, Judge Pamela Chen, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York; Mitchell Bernard, Director of Litigation at the National Resources Defense Council; Marianne Engelman Lado, Director of Litigation and Advocacy at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest; Judge Robert D. Sack, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative.
Professors Betsy Ginsberg, Jessica Roth, and Jonathan Oberman serve as faculty advisors to the Public Service Scholars. In addition, many other faculty members take part in program activities and serve as advisors to the Public Service Scholars.