Public Interest and Public Service

Public Interest and Public Service at BC Law

Our goal is to develop public service leaders. The Public Interest and Public Service Program (formerly called LEAPS) integrates the academic, career and experiential opportunities that touch public service at BC, providing opportunities for students to discover and develop their talents for advancing the public good through their chosen legal path.

Each year, our Public Service Scholars become a core part of the entering 1L class, but the experience extends across the entire student body, from our fall Public Interest Law Retreat, to academic and experiential course offerings, faculty mentoring, career-related programs, pro bono opportunities and immersion trips, and many events with student organizations.

The Public Service Committee, appointed by the Dean, is comprised of faculty and administrators dedicated to supporting and expanding the law school's public interest initiatives and programs. Those who serve are deeply engaged in the law school's vibrant public interest community and supporting students in their related academic, career and extracurricular activities. The Committee also selects the recipients for our Public Service Scholarships, post-graduate Public Service Legal Fellowships and Drinan Family Fund Award for loan repayment and the Loan Repayment and Assistance Program for alumni pursuing careers in public interest and public service upon graduation. To contact the Committee, please see the Co-Chair contact information on this page.


Contact Us
 

Ray Madoff
Faculty Co-Chair, Public Service Committee


Michelle Grossfield
Co-Chair, Public Service Committee
Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs Director
 


Public Sector Careers
 

BC Law graduates have a long history of service in government and public interest positions.

More on Careers

Student at pro bono event

The Pro Bono Program

Our Pro Bono Program connects students to a variety of placements and organizations where they gain invaluable experience, develop critical skills, and build relationships with practitioners and other professionals by pledging 50+ hours of law-related community service.

Class of 2022

27%

Participated in the Pro Bono Program 

Completing over 12,700 hours of service

Pro Bono Immersion Trips

New Orleans, Phoenix, Chicago—to some students those cities might sound like fun spring break destinations, but for a number of BC Law 1Ls, they were places to learn complex truths about practicing law. For decades, during a week in spring semester, the school has been sending aspiring lawyers across America to gain experience in international human rights, immigration, Native American law, and more.


 

Shaping Public Service Leaders

The pro bono program gave me the opportunity to learn and develop lawyering skills in the real world. It is an extremely rewarding experience to take what you have learned and use it to positively impact someone's life.
Heather Perez '17, Pro Bono Program participant
Student working in Center

Public Interest Designation Program (PIDP)

PIDP prepares students to launch meaningful public sector careers. PIDP students contribute not only to the BC Law community but also to the local, national, and international communities they serve. Students who complete PIDP’s requirements are honored as Public Interest Designation Fellows at Commencement.

Class of 2022

20%+

of students participated in PIDP

Program Requirements

Complete 15 hours of public interest coursework

Participate in experiential learning offerings—completing a clinic, an independent study with corresponding pro bono placement, or a public service Semester in Practice or other qualifying externship

Spend at least one summer interning with a public sector employer

Take BC Law’s pro bono pledge and complete 50+ hours of public service

Student at event

The Curtin Center

Opened in 1999 and dedicated by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, the John J. and Mary Daly Curtin Center for Public Interest Law serves as the physical home for the Law School’s initiatives supporting public interest legal work.

Funded through a gift by former American Bar Association President John J. Curtin Jr., BC '54, JD '57, the Center is, in the words of the late Mr. Curtin, “a visible sign of the commitment to public service for Boston College and its students."

In addition to offices and a formal conference room, the Center also provides casual meeting, study, and common space for student organizations involved in various public service and pro bono activities. BC Law students regularly complete over 13,500 pro bono hours annually and anout 20% of graduates participate in the Public Interest Designation Program. The Center allows these students to share their experiences and reflect on the educational and formative impact of their work.

Mr. Curtin maintained that when it came to public interest legal work, “the spirit is alive, but must be nourished." The Curtin Center for Public Interest Law continues to support, encourage, and nourish our students' commitment to public service.  

Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF)

Housed in the Curtin Center, PILF aims to promote public interest law-focused activities at BC Law. For more on PILF, please see our PILF section.

Student Success

Our students go on to do great things across public service fields. One example: two recent Public Service Scholars won Massachusetts Bar Foundation’s prestigious Legal Intern Fellowships. 

Jack Curtin's life is a shining example of something we hold most dear at Boston College Law School: a life spent in service to others in a myriad of ways.
Diane Ring, Interim Dean

The Public Interest Law Foundation

PILF was founded in 1984 to promote public interest opportunities and community at BC Law. PILF organizes events with faculty, social justice trainings, DEI roundtables, and a mentorship program. The organization is based in the Mary Daly Curtin and John J. Curtin, Jr. Public Interest Center, which is a suite on the third floor of East Wing. PILF members use the Curtin Center for meetings, casual conversation, events, and as a quiet place to study. The board consists of over 40 1L, 2L, and 3L students in executive, directorship, and chair positions, as well as countless general members within the student body. In concert with the law school, PILF also orchestrates the summer stipend program through which over a hundred students each year are awarded cost-of-living stipends for their unpaid public interest internships. PILF also awards two special stipends to 20 exceptional students: the Racial Justice Stipend and the Hillinger Fellowship, both supported by the Ingrid Michelsen Hillinger Legacy Fund. The stipend program advances PILF’s greater mission of ensuring that public interest careers are accessible to as diverse a range of students as the communities public interest lawyers serve.

PILF has received a $100,000 grant from The Cummings Foundation to support summer stipends for BC Law students working in public service.

Read Story

Other Student Organizations

The BC Law Public Interest and Public Service community is active and vibrant. In addition to the Public Interest Law Foundation, many other student organizations working in public interest areas are visible in the Curtin Center and across campus:

American Constitution Society
Children's Rights Group
Criminal Law Society
Environmental Law Society
Holocaust and Human Rights Project
Immigration Law Group
If/When/How
National Lawyers Guild
St. Thomas More Society

See all Student Orgs

Public Interest Law Retreat

Each fall, our public interest community gathers at the Connors Center for the annual Retreat, led by the Public Service Scholars and the Public Interest and Pro Bono Program Director. The retreat introduces 1Ls interested in pursuing careers in public interest and public service to mentors and resources within our vibrant public interest community. You will meet alumni working in these rewarding fields for small group conversations, hear from the Dean and from an inspiring keynote speaker and a leader in the field. The goal is to highlight the importance of this work and our commitment to supporting students engaged in it. At the dinner and reception, you will meet faculty with public sector practice experience who are active in the public interest community, and learn from upperclass student leaders and recent alumni about engaging in public interest work during law school and in their public interest careers.