Student Organizations

Student Organizations

James L. Petigru Public Interest Law Society

James L. Petigru Public Interest Law Society

Summer Grant Program

The PILS Summer Grant Program gives law students the opportunity to gain valuable public interest law experience and provides public interest organizations with valuable law student assistance. PILS hosts several fundraisers throughout the year to create funding for the Grant Program — check out "Events" to see upcoming fundraisers and activities and "Help Out" learn how you can get involved!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start?
Copy the Grant Application materials from the PILS website and review them. Please pay careful attention to the application deadline and requirements of the employer. Think about your reasons for applying.

Who finds my job?
You do! You contact the potential employer and discuss the opportunity with them. If they agree to hire you for the summer, they will need to complete an Employer Form to accompany your application.

How do I find a public interest employer?
Ask fellow Grant recipients, talk to the leaders of PILS, discuss options with the Director of the Pro Bono Program, check the listings in Career Services. Some employers are only willing to supervise a limited number of student law clerks so it does not pay to delay.

Does the job have to be legal in nature?
The job must be supervised by an attorney but may be policy related. Past PILS grant have involved research, clerking responsibilities, drafting, and case preparation.

Does the job have to be in SC?
No. Over the past ten years many of the placements have been in SC, but others have been in Texas, DC, NC and Mississippi. Because the grant program's objectives include advancing the ability of public interest organizations to serve populations in need in this state, working in SC will be a plus factor in your application.

How much money will the grant provide?
It depends. All money raised by PILS in a year is spent on summer grants. How much you receive will depend on how much you ask for, how much is raised, and how many people apply for grants.

Should I consider part-time work?
Yes, if you can offset your summer legal position with non-legal work you should consider doing this. We have limited funds and are looking for ways to spread the funding to as many people as possible.

Should I ask if the employer can partially fund my summer job?
Yes, sometimes the employer has a limited amount of money and having the matching funds from PILS makes your application much more attractive.

When will I hear about funding?
Our goal it to have funding decisions made by April 6, 2012.

Who makes the decisions regarding the allocation of funds?
The Selection Committee is usually comprised of two USC Law faculty member, two USC Law School alumni, and a law student. All members have either practiced public interest law or have a particular interest in supporting public interest work.

What if I apply but decide to take a job in the private sector that is fully funded?
We ask that you let us know as soon as possible. Problems arise when applicants apply, receive funding, and then change their mind.

What are my responsibilities at the end of my summer employment?
You will be asked to complete a brief description of your summer job activities. We are interested in learning whether the placement met your expectations, what kinds of assignments you had, and what you learned from your placement experience.

Where does PILS get the money for the Summer Public Interest Grant Program?
PILS grants are funded by donations are procured from the faculty, staff, students and alumni. PILS also holds fundraising events such as the sale of study aids and the Talent/NoTalent Show. In addition, Phi Delta Phi's annual Faculty Auction has provided substantial funding for the grant program in recent years.

Who distributes the money?
Since the money comes from many sources it is distributed from a variety of accounts. You could be paid directly by PILS or your funding could be sent to you from the USC Educational Foundation. We try to process the funding in the most efficient manner.

Why would I want a summer job in public interest law?
There are as many answers to this question as there are types of students. Many students come to law school with a public interest career in mind. Others are not sure what this means but want the opportunity to explore it as a possible career option.

Who should I talk to if I have questions or need advice?
Many former grant recipients are members of PILS and are an excellent resource. You should contact PILS President Kerri Ann Brown to learn how to get in touch with recent recipients. You should also discuss your options with the Pamela Robinson, Director of Pro Bono Program or PILS Advisers Professor Josie Brown and Professor Joel Samuels.