What We Do
Cardozo is deeply committed to public service law, instilling in students an understanding of the critical role lawyers play in providing access to justice for those in need. The Center for Public Service Law provides guidance and support to students wishing to pursue public service. Bringing together a variety of projects and programs, the Center builds the foundation for our students and graduates to obtain meaningful public service employment opportunities. At Cardozo Law, public service is also woven into the fabric of the curriculum, including our in-house clinics, field clinics, and externship program. The Center supports a number of innovative programs that enable our students and graduates to strengthen the public service law sector.
Further details about some of our key programs are provided below, including Cardozo’s Public Service Summer Stipend Program, Public Interest Law Advocacy (P*Law) Week, Inspire Awards, Pro Bono and Volunteer Projects, David Rudenstine Post-Graduate Fellowship, Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), and more!
Cardozo’s students and graduates have the commitment, compassion, and training required to achieve justice for the most vulnerable individuals and communities. They are consistently on the front lines of providing crucial legal services and transformative results that benefit individual clients and the public interest at-large.
Public Service Summer Stipend
Cardozo’s Public Interest Summer Stipend Program plays a key role in Cardozo’s overall commitment to preparing its graduates to become passionate advocates dedicated to improving our legal system and the lives of the people they serve. Students who pursue a wide range of unpaid public service internships with nonprofits, government agencies, and judges may be eligible to obtain a stipend through our program. For the past 16 years, every eligible student has obtained this funding.
In the summer of 2019, over 200 Cardozo students received funding for their summer internships from our Public Service Summer Stipend Program. These stipends are awarded to first- and second-year Cardozo students who have secured unpaid internships with 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, government entities, or judges' chambers during the summer. One of our largest supporters of this program is the David Berg Foundation. Those fellowships are awarded to students with a demonstrated commitment to working with underserved communities.
Funding levels for Summer 2019 were $4,200 for domestic placements and $5,000 for students who earned certain public service distinctions and for those who had international placements.
Our students have interned at the following public interest organizations, among many others:
- The Legal Aid Society
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- Federal Trade Commission
- Federal Public Defender – Kansas City, KS
- Brooklyn District Attorney
- Lawyers for Children
- Innocence Project
- Asylum Access
P*Law: Public Interest Law Advocacy Week
Cardozo's commitment to public service is highlighted every January during Public Interest Law Advocacy Week (P*LAW), a weeklong event that includes daily panels and workshops featuring inspiring conversations about the practice of public interest law.
During this student-led program, the school buzzes with panelists, including legal practitioners and community advocates and organizers, who are invited by students to address important issues such as domestic violence, LGBTQ+ rights, prisoners' rights, immigration, education reform, youth representation, and environmental law.
P*Law 2021 will be held January 19-22, 2021 via Zoom. Our 2021 program contains an array of exciting events, ranging from discussions about progressive prosecution to abolishing the police, veterans' affairs, protecting students' rights during COVID-19, the value of diversity in ADR, LGBTQIA+ policy and activism, a skills building workshop for interviewing low-income clients, and more! We are thrilled for so many renowned panelists from the legal community to participate, including many Cardozo alumni, faculty, and staff.
Highlights from P*LAW 2020
“The Courtroom”: A Theatrical Performance & Panel Discussion on Immigration
A Legal and Policy Discussion of the 2020 Census: Outreach, Opportunity, and Outcome
Lights, Camera, Justice: Art Illuminating Stories and Truths that Have Been Silenced by the Legal System (Ft. the Story of the Central Park Jogger Case)
2020 Inspire! Awards
The 2020 Inspire! Awards took place on Wednesday, June 10, via Zoom. The Inspire! Awards celebrate students and community leaders who made strides this past year in public service. We invite you to join and celebrate the honorees and our students' achievements by reviewing the program and photos below!
We were thrilled to be joined by our Community Impact Honorees, Angela Black, Sharonne Salaam, and Staci Dupont. Our honorees made a significant impact on the Cardozo community during P*Law 2020, and the public interest at-large, by sharing their experience with the films When They See Us and Raised in the System illuminating their stories of injustice. All three honorees are family members of men who suffered injustices in our criminal justice system, and during P*Law 2020, they inspired a meaningful discussion about the often overlooked plight of families whose loved ones have endured miscarriages of justice. The films have opened the eyes of millions to the need for criminal justice reform.
We were also honored that Kevin Richardson and Yusef Salaam, two of The Exonerated Five portrayed in When They See Us, and Dominic Dupont, whose story was told in Raised in the System, joined our Inspire Awards ceremony to help present our awards for the Community Impact Honoree category. Kevin and Dominic also participated in P*Law 2020's Lights, Camera, Justice panel. Read more about the celebration here.
2020 Inspire! Awards Winners
Sharonne Salaam, Community Impact Honoree
Angela Black, Community Impact Honoree
Staci Dupont, Community Impact Honoree
Naomi Gallimore, Pro Bono Promoter - Pro Bono Scholar
Brandon Kronstat, Pro Bono Promoter - Pro Bono Scholar
Claire Mooney, Pro Bono Promoter - Pro Bono Scholar
Matthew Shapiro, Pro Bono Promoter - Pro Bono Scholar
Destinee Salomon, Pro Bono Promoter - Pro Bono Scholar
Brigette Merzel, Pro Bono Promoter - Special Projects, Community Impact Award
Clare Haugh, Pro Bono Promoter - Special Projects
Jenny Lam, Pro Bono Promoter - Special Projects
Anne Bredin, Pro Bono Promoter - Special Projects
Christopher Junior - Pro Bono Promoter - Special Projects
Stephanie Morales, Pro Bono Promoter - Special Projects
Aaron Friedman, Community Impact Award
Shaul Sultan, Community Impact Award
Elan Stiberman, Community Impact Award
Tziona Breitbart, Community Impact Award
Corey Hirsch, Community Impact Award
Nolberto Zubia, Gamechanger Award
Judy Dahl, Gamechanger Award
Johnny Thach, Gamechanger Award
Matthew Christiana, Gamechanger Award
2020 Inspire Awards! Program
2020 Inspire! Awards Program
Pro Bono and Volunteer Projects
Law school programs that promote public service are important not only for supporting and training students interested in pursuing careers in the public sector but also for reinforcing the notion that every law student and every lawyer in this country must play a role in achieving justice for all. Moreover, these programs help students understand and explore ways in which they can personally contribute their time and talent to this mission.
Cardozo offers numerous opportunities within our experiential learning programs (clinics, externships and field clinics) and summer public service programs for current students to meet the requirement. In addition to those programs, Cardozo offers a number of project-based opportunities for students to provide access to legal services for those who desperately need legal assistance. Through these projects, students benefit from gaining essential lawyering skills while providing access to justice to countless people who otherwise would have not received legal assistance. Below are descriptions of the current projects available to students. More information about the New York State bar pro bono requirement and ways to fulfill it are available here.
Search for pro bono opportunities throughout New York here.
Click here for further details about the pro bono projects, including the Uncontested Divorce Project and Courtroom Advocates Project and volunteer projects, including Suspension Representation Project and Unemployment Action Center.
David Rudenstine Postgraduate Fellowship
Cardozo's David Rudenstine Postgraduate Fellowship provides one student from each year's graduating class funding to pursue work in public interest law for one year. The Fellowship term generally begins the fall after graduation. Made possible by a generous grant from Susan Halpern, the Fellowship gives recent graduates support to begin careers in public service.
Employers interested in hosting a fellow and students interested in applying, please reach out to Alissa Bernstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Rudenstine Fellowship has allowed me to pursue meaningful work that I may not otherwise have had the opportunity to do. To my knowledge, Children’s Law Center did not have any open positions at the time I was searching for a post-graduate position, but funding from Cardozo made it possible for me to do this work.”
- Abby Finkelman, 2019 David Rudenstine Postgraduate Fellow, Children's Law Center
Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)
The Laurie M. Tisch Loan Repayment Assistance Program is a program at Cardozo that benefits Cardozo graduates who have chosen to pursue careers in public service. The program provides “forgivable loans” to assist with overcoming educational debt and the financial support necessary for our outstanding young lawyers to pursue their passion for public service.
In 2019 a total of $305,700 was awarded to 92 alumni who graduated in the prior 6 years. They were provided awards ranging from $1,000 - $9,000.
For information regarding eligibility and the application process please click here.
Cardozo gave me a practical grounding in the area of public interest law that I couldn’t have found elsewhere.