Public Service Opportunities

Use this page as a resource for finding public service opportunities.

Drake-sponsored Public Service Internships

Drake Law students can complete Public Service Internships during the summer that are funded by grants obtained by the Law School from the Iowa Supreme Court’s Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Federal Work Study funds (FWS) committed by Drake University, and Drake Law School scholarship funding.

In the past, Drake Law School has been able to offer as many as 23 paid public service internships:

  • Federal Work Study Poverty Law Internships (10 internships, $15 per hour)
  • Federal Work Study-Other Public Service Agencies (3 internships, $15 per hour)
  • Howard Fellowships at the Drake Legal Clinic (subject to the availability of funds, 2 internships, each with scholarship of 2-4 credits applied to tuition)
  • Drake Agricultural Law Center public service internships (8 internships, $2,500 living expense stipend)

Federal Work Study Community Service Internships

In 2010, Drake allocated Federal Work Study (FWS) funds to support the Law School’s Summer Community Service internships. Law students will earn $15 per hour. They do not earn academic credit for the FWS internships.

Participating Public Service Programs

Because the Iowa Supreme Court IOLTA $14,000 grant has already been secured, the 15-year internship experience with Iowa Legal Aid, and the courts and profession’s commitment to providing access to the courts for person who are indigent, the substantial majority of the FWS Summer Internships have been placed with Iowa Legal Aid. The Summer Poverty Law Internship positions will be filled first.

Once the Poverty Law Internship positions have been filled, a determination will be made as to the number of internships that can be funded at other public service agencies who desire interns and can provide the requisite matching funds.

In prior years, the Law School had funded internships with Midwest Environmental Justice Advocates, Iowa Coalition against Domestic Violence, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Attorney General, American Judicature Society, and the Iowa Workers Compensation Commission.

Local Match/Drake FWS Match

In the Law School’s Summer FWS program, law students can earn seven weeks’ pay from July 1 through the start of classes in August.

Each FWS community service intern can earn $4,200 based on an hourly rate of $15 per hour (seven weeks x 40 hours/week x $15/hour = $4,200).

Pursuant to federal regulations, $3 in FWS funds is available for each $1 in local matching funds. In addition to the 25 percent match, the local nonprofit employer is also required to pay the FICA. The 25 percent matching funds and the FICA total $1,323 ($1,050 match + $273 FICA). Drake will commit $3,150 in FWS funds as its 75 percent match, enabling each intern to earn $4,200.

FWS Eligibility Conditions

There are a number of conditions that federal regulations impose on the FWS Community Service internships:

  • A student must be FWS eligible and his/her summer FWS earnings must be counted as a resource toward meeting cost of attendance for the following academic year.
  • A student must commit to working seven weeks between July 1 and the start of classes in August. However, there is nothing that precludes a student from volunteering with his or her agency during the month of June, and interns are encouraged to do so. The volunteer work can be counted toward the Law School’s Public Service Certificate that is awarded at graduation.
  • A student cannot be enrolled in Drake summer courses (interims and all summer sessions) or participate in the Summer in France program.
  • FWS summer internship awards are restricted to select community service agencies located in Iowa.

FWS Poverty Law Internship Program

A IOLTA (Supreme Court of Iowa Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts) grant to the Drake Law School provides matching funds to support FWS summer internships for Drake Law students and travel expenses for the orientation program.

Current 1L and 2L students are eligible. Applicants must have a 2.00 law school CGPA, both at the time of application and at the time of the commencement of the internship. Faculty supervision of this internship enables interns to be certified under the Iowa Supreme Court Student Practice Rule.

Current 1L students can handle fact investigation, client interviews, and actual administrative agency evidentiary hearings. Current 2L students can handle all of the above as well as actual in-court representation, under the supervision of licensed Iowa counsel. Over the years most Drake interns have worked for Iowa Legal Aid, usually in Des Moines but also at outlying offices. A Drake intern is also been regularly placed with Story County Legal Aid in Nevada.

Interns will earn $15 per hour and funding is sufficient so that each student can earn at least $4,200 (280 hours' work x $15 per hour).

A one-day mandatory orientation/training in May enables interns to hit the ground running and helps the program qualify for certification under the Supreme Court Student Practice Rule. The training rotates annually between Drake and Iowa law schools.

The rolling application deadline is Feb. 15.

Download the Legal Aid Internship Application.

See also a List of Iowa Legal Aid Offices.

FWS-Other Public Service Agencies

The Law School's Career Development Office has developed a list of public service employers who are certified as eligible to participate in the FWS summer internship program.

In addition to Iowa Legal Aid and Story County Legal Aid discussed above, a number of public service agencies have been approved for participation, ranging from Midwest Environmental Justice Advocates to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.

The participation of these employers is contingent upon their commitment of the required matching funds and the availability of FWS funds. The FWS Guidelines describe the type of organizations that qualify for participation. Although the FWS Guidelines do not restrict participating agencies to those delivering legal services, the Law School, consistent with its mission, will only award internships that involve legal work or the delivery of legal services that are supervised by an attorney.

Interns at these organizations are not certified under the Iowa Supreme Court Student Practice Rule.

If you are interested in an organization other than Iowa Legal Aid or Story County Legal Aid, you must contact the organization to determine if they are hiring student interns under the FWS program. If the public service agency is interested in participating in the FWS program, it must be approved by the Law School for an allocation of FWS funds.

Once an agency is approved for an FWS funds allocation, applicants will need to submit a cover letter, resume and possibly a writing sample to the organization. Subject to the availability of Drake’s FWS funds, the organization will conduct interviews and select the student workers.

For more information, contact Drake Law School's Career Development Office at 515-271-2988 or law-career@drake.edu.

Iowa Children's Justice Summer Fellowship

The Iowa Children’s Justice Summer Fellowship is designed to financially support law students who obtain a summer volunteer position in the area of juvenile law. All applicants must locate their own volunteer position.

Examples of eligible juvenile law positions include the Public Defender's Office doing parent representation or GAL/attorney for child work, Youth Law Center in Des Moines, private law firms that provide representation for clients in juvenile court, clerking for juvenile court and appellate judges, and research projects in the area of juvenile law.

The expectation is that fellows will work full-time for eight weeks. 

The deadline is May 1, but decisions will be made on a rolling basis.

For more information, download the Iowa Childrens Justice Summer Fellowship Application.

Summer Charles & Joseph Howard Fellowships

The Law School funds the Charles & Joseph Howard Fellowships in the Drake legal clinic through the earnings from the students’ work in providing representation under the legal clinic’s grant with the Iowa State Public Defender’s Office.

Typically, these earnings have been sufficient to award two to four fellowships. Fellowship awards are made by the director of clinical programs, in consultation with the director of the Criminal Defense Clinic. The fellowship also provides a scholarship that covers 2-4 hours of summer tuition, approximately $2,000-4,000.

Fellows are certified under the Iowa Supreme Court Student Practice Rule. They must commit to a minimum of 10 weeks and 200 hours of client representation.

Agricultural Law Center Summer Internships

The Agricultural Law Center has secured grant funding to support summer internships.

Students have received a stipend of $2,500, with a minimum time commitment of 20 hours per week for 10 weeks with their sponsoring institution. Students receive no academic credit.

Students who are in the Agricultural Law Certificate Program receive a preference in the award of these internships. Interested students should contact Professor Neil Hamilton (515-271-2065, neil.hamilton@drake.edu) for more information about these internships.

New Orleans Spring Break Volunteer Trip

Each year, the Law School organizes a New Orleans Spring Break Volunteer Trip under the supervision of Assistant Dean Erin Lain. This trip allows students to put into practice skills learned in the classroom through service.

Student volunteer at the New Orleans Pro Bono Project, which provides free, quality civil legal services to the poor. Students conduct client intakes, fill out and file divorce pleadings, create brochures for the public about elderabuse, fill out debt forms for bankruptcy, and create a national emergency contact directory.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)

The VITA program is sponsored by United Way and a number of community partners to help low-income workers prepare their tax filings. The Student Bar Association has been a partner for a number of years, with the Drake legal clinic serving as a drop-in site and students serving as volunteers.

Student-sponsored Public Service

Many Law School student organizations engage in public service in addition to philanthropic projects.

  • The Public Interest Law Association, also known as Equal Justice Works, began a project in fall 2011 called Drake Law S.O.U.L.S. (Students Offering the Underprivileged Legal Assistance). Students work with volunteer lawyers and faculty at the Iowa Homeless Youth Shelter’s weekly outreach. Other public service opportunities provided by this organization include participation in Meals From the Heartland, Reach Out to Dropouts, and the Veterans Stand Down, as well as assisting with the annual Halloween Hoops.
  • The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund organizes students to volunteer at local animal shelters.
  • The Drake Association for Child Advocacy (DACA) is helping set up a non-profit called "Making the Law Work for You," which will work to educate kids in the foster care and juvenile justice systems about the law and their legal rights through interactive lessons. DACA also plans to assist with Adoption Day, a local legal tradition in which many adoption proceedings are scheduled on the same court day and celebrations are held, and the Spring Reunification Picnic for families separated by foster care.
  • The Delta Theta Phi legal fraternity also provides substantial person-power to Halloween Hoops and has public service programs of its own.
  • The Business Law Society plans to participate in the VITA program and contribute to a Habitat for Humanity build.

Halloween Hoops is an annual public service event co-sponsored by the Student Bar Association and the Des Moines NAACP. The event includes a pizza party for as many as 300 community youth, most of whom are minorities. In addition to monetary contributions by the SBA and contributions of candy by law students (as part of an Amnesty Day program), law students act as volunteers during the event.

Drake Legal Clinic

The Neal and Bea Smith Legal Clinic has a separate and important role in the Law School’s public service commitment and opportunities. The legal clinic represents indigent clients, and thus pro bono service is central to its mission.

Clinical opportunities have been made available to every student, and approximately half of the Law School's graduates take a clinic course during their time at Drake. The clinical experience unquestionably helps students understand the immense need for legal services and the ethical responsibility lawyers have to provide pro bono and other services in our communities.

Learn more about the Drake Neal and Bea Smith Legal Clinic.


For more opportunities to get involved in public service, contact Drake Law School's Career Development Office at 515-271-2988 or law-career@drake.edu.

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