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Prima Facie

Senior Judge James L. Ryan of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals leads first-year Michigan Law students in their Pledge of Integrity August 29th.


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Public Service with a smile

Guarantee to help 2Ls with government, public service jobs

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan Law School has good news for students planning to pursue careers in public interest or government: starting next summer, Michigan Law will launch the Public Service Guarantee – a summer stipend of $5,000 for all 2Ls who obtain summer internships with qualified government or public interest organizations.

It’s no secret that it’s hard to secure even minimal funding for summer internships with government agencies and non-profits – even though these organizations offer invaluable, highly specialized legal experience. And sometimes it seems the very organizations that provide the best experience are least able to provide financial support.

At Michigan Law, it’s central to our role as a top-ranked public law school to continue making it possible for students to pursue careers that serve the greater good. Financial hardship shouldn’t come between talented and energetic students and their ability to contribute those talents and energies to public service. Hence the Public Service Guarantee, which aims to continue Michigan Law’s long and distinguished history of supplying superbly trained lawyers to the public and non-profit sectors.

“A public service guarantee would have made a big difference for me when I was in law school,” said Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a 1989 Michigan Law graduate. “Instead of spending my summers at firms because I couldn't afford to work for free, I could have had a foot in the door to a public interest job much sooner. This is wonderful news, because it gives public service students the experience that will help them secure a competitive post-graduate position.”

With that in mind, the Law School also plans to continue – and bolster – the Dean’s Public Service Fellowships, with selected 2Ls receiving a beefed-up $7,000 summer stipend beginning in the summer of 2009.

Both programs will operate with the same basic rules as the Dean’s Public Service Fellowship:

• The government or non-profit position must be the student’s primary legal employment for the summer. Second-year students who split their summer legal employment between public service and private law practice are not eligible.

• The work performed can’t be of a partisan, political nature.

• Students must be employed in their positions for a minimum of 10 weeks.

Whether recipients intend to go into government, private practice or public interest, students like current Dean’s Fellow Zoe Levine agreed that the Guarantee is a positive step for the Michigan Law School community.

“This will allow students to explore opportunities outside the private sector and follow their true interests rather than put them on hold,” said Levine, who worked this summer at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project in New York City. “Many students will now be able to do what they're passionate about without adding to their financial anxieties.”

Read more about the program at

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