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Public Interest Opportunities And Funding

Drake Law offers lots of opportunities to gain public interest experience.

For more opportunities to get involved with public interest or to locate funding, contact Drake Law School's Career Development Office at 515-271-2988 or

Drake Legal Clinic

The Drake Legal Clinic has an important role in the Law School’s public interest commitment and opportunities. The clinics represent indigent clients in the following areas: children's rights, criminal defense and wrongful conviction, refugee assistance, entrepeneurial/transactional matters and general civil issues. The clinics serve a wide range of clients. As students gain real-world experience, they can also have a huge beneficial impact on the clients they serve.

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 Legal Clinic.

Public Interest Internships, Jobs & Funding Clearinghouse

Drake is a member of PSJD, which is an online clearinghouse for public interest opportunities and funding sources. Job listings in the PSJD database include internships (fall, spring, and summer), postgraduate fellowships, and a wide variety of permanent positions. PSJD also includes organizational profiles for nonprofit, government, and other public interest employers spanning the globe (all the organizations that have listed jobs with us in recent years).  Jobseekers may search the database, bookmark opportunities for later viewing, and receive email alerts with newly posted opportunities matching their search criteria. There is also a resource specifically geared toward identifying summer funding sources.  New to PSJD? Students and alumni at subscriber law schools may register for free.

Federal Work Study Funded Internships

Drake University allocates Federal Work Study (FWS) funds to support the Law School’s Summer Community Service internships. You do not earn academic credit for the FWS internships. You can earn seven weeks' pay from July 1 through the start of classes in August. Each FWS intern can earn $4,200 based on an hourly rate of $15/hour.

Participating Public Interest Programs

As part of Drake Law's commitment to providing access to the courts for persons who are indigent, the substantial majority of the FWS Summer Internships have been placed with Iowa Legal Aid and Legal Aid Society of Story County. 

Once the Iowa Legal Aid Summer Fellowship positions have been filled, a determination is 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.

Depending on budgets, students have interned using FWS at agencies and non profit organizations including Iowa Coalition against Domestic Violence, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Attorney General.

Federal Work Study Eligibility Conditions

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

  • You must be FWS eligible and your 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 you from volunteering with your 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.

Iowa Legal Aid Summer Fellowships

Current 1L and 2L students are eligible for these summer fellowships. You must have a 2.00 law school GPA, 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. 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. 

Under the 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. See a List of Iowa Legal Aid Offices. A Drake intern has also been regularly placed with Legal Aid Society of Story County in Nevada, Iowa.

If students use FWS dollars discussed above, you will earn $15 per hour and funding is sufficient so that each student can earn $4,200 (280 hours' work x $15 per hour).

The deadline for these Summer Fellowships is February 15, although applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Federal Work Study-Other Public Interest Agencies

The Law School's Career Development Office works with other public interest employers who are certified as eligible to participate in the FWS summer internship program.

The participation of these employers is contingent upon their commitment of the required matching funds and the availability of FWS funds. 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 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

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, contact Nickole Miller and download the Iowa Children's Justice Summer Fellowship Application.

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 Jennifer Zwagerman for more information about these internships.

Public Interest Internships Offered for Credit

Drake Law offers 30 internships for credit with governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations plus the opportunity for independent internships with an approved agency or organization. Learn more about our internships.

Ruth B. Klotz & Russell E. Lovell II Public Service Stipends

Judge Klotz was a pioneering Iowa female attorney and probate judge, graduating from Drake Law School in 1955 as the only woman in her class (and at the top of her class). Throughout her 34 years on the bench, she sponsored judicial interns and was an instructor at Drake Law School.

The Ruth B. Klotz Public Service Stipend will provide funding for at least one summer stipend in the approximate amount of $1,200 which can be used for living expenses. Selection will be based on the following criteria:

  • Recipients must be students in good standing at the Law School.
  • Preference will be given to students that have not otherwise received significant law school scholarship awards.
  • Recipients must have a record of public service and demonstrate interest and intent to perform public service following graduation.   
  • Recipients must provide evidence that they have secured summer employment with an organization in a public service field.  

Russell E. Lovell II is Professor Emeritus of Law at Drake Law School.  Through the years he has demonstrated a long history of unwavering, fervent support for our public service program and developing the next generation of public service attorneys.

The Lovell Fellowship is intended to support Drake Law students who accept unpaid public service positions during the 1L or 2L summer by awarding five $2,000 fellowships. Public service may include working for the government, a non-profit organization, or a judge, for example. Priority will be given to students with the greatest unmet financial need.

You may use the same application to apply for either or both stipends. The Klotz/Lovell Joint Summer Fellow Application is due by April 30 through Symplicity and will be reviewed by a standing committee. 

To apply, login to Symplicity and click "Job Postings." Type "Klotz/Lovell" in the keyword search, then click on Klotz/Lovell Summer Public Service Award post. Additional instructions for applying are included in the post.  



Robert J. Waters and Patricia J. Beneke Endowed Washington, D.C. Experience Scholarship

Deadline: April 10, 2023

This scholarship supports Drake students with internships in Washington, D.C., to enable undergraduate or graduate students (including law students) with an interest in and commitment to public service to work with congressional or executive branch federal government offices or private organizations engaged in addressing:

  • Delivery of universal, high-quality health care
  • Enhanced human, women’s, LGBTQ, and civil rights
  • Improved civic engagement and effective governance
  • Expanded disability rights; a strong system of accessible public education
  • Sustainability, environmental protection and climate change

The Robert J. Waters and Patricia J. Beneke Endowed Washington, D.C. Experience Scholarship is administered by The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University.

Are you interested in pursuing a summer internship in Washington D.C. but unsure where to begin? The staff at The Harkin Institute can help!

Financial Information

Scholarship Coverage and Compensation

The stipend for this scholarship covers the recipient’s housing accommodations for a 12-week period from May to August 2023 with Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH), a non-refundable room deposit, as well as travel expenses up to $500. Funds will be paid directly to the third party.

Recipients will be responsible for any room damages incurred during their stay.

Under extreme circumstances, an applicant may apply for additional funding by providing:

  • Budget and documentation to support the request for additional funding (i.e., past bills and contracts)
  • Financial aid package for the current school year
  • Personal statement explaining the special circumstances


The following qualifications are required for The Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship:

  • The applicant must be a student at Drake University
  • The applicant must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater
  • The applicant must complete an application form and submit the required documents by the stated deadline

How To Apply

The following documents are required for The Robert J. Waters and Patricia J. Beneke Endowed Washington, D.C. Experience Scholarship application submission.  Click here for the application website.

  • Completed Scholarship Application
  • Typed 500-word essay, as described in the application form
  • Resume
  • Unofficial Drake University transcript
  • One faculty recommendation
  • Acceptance letter from internship placement

Recipient Selection

The Harkin Institute Scholarship Advisory Committee will review all application materials and choose recipients during the spring semester.

The Harkin Institute Scholarship Advisory Committee Members

Members of the Advisory Committee include: Johnston Mayor, Paula Dierenfeld; Former Senator Harkin staffer, Ray Walton; Denise Stowman, Assistant Director of Financial Aid for Drake University; and Retired Senator Tom Harkin.

Recipient selection is based on the following:

  • The potential for the proposed internship to expose the recipient to policymakers and the policymaking process
  • Previous work/volunteer experiences and extracurricular activities
  • Grade point average
  • Applicant’s written essay
  • Faculty recommendation

Timeline for the selection

  • The recipients will be notified of their selection by The Harkin Institute mid-semester.
  • The recipients will be provided a deadline following that notification in which they must accept the scholarship offer and return the formal acceptance letter to The Harkin Institute.
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