The Summer Clerkship Program
As MJF’s oldest program, the Summer Clerkship Program provides funds for Minnesota law students to work as summer clerks at public interest and poverty law offices.
MJF’s Summer Clerkship Program makes it possible for up to 20 law students each summer to work with legal aid offices and other public interest organizations serving low-income, disadvantaged and under-represented Minnesotans. Participating law students help legal aid and volunteer lawyers serve eligible clients, including many who, because of program overload and lack of case priority, otherwise could not be served. The law students learn about the legal needs of eligible clients, develop the skills required to address those needs, and gain the legal experience they will need to perform pro bono legal work after they leave law school.
Program Specifics and Selection
Since 1983, MJF has sponsored and funded law student summer clerkships with legal aid offices and public interest organizations in Minnesota. MJF clerks offer the agencies they serve intensive help with casework, research, and legal writing. Clerks work at the direction and under the supervision of the agencies’ own lawyers. Each clerk works a minimum of 400 hours (ten 40-hour weeks). MJF clerkships are open to all law student members. The clerkship agencies choose their own clerks by screening resumes and cover letters, conducting on-campus interviews, and reviewing optional additional information, such as writing samples and volunteer activity sheets.
MJF selects clerkship agency hosts based upon a variety of factors, including: rankings by students, client populations served, issues addressed, activities assigned to clerks, the agency’s need for a clerk, past experiences of MJF clerks at that agency, the number of clerks at an agency, and interests of MJF’s membership in serving a particular agency. Last year, law firms, bar associations, legal services agencies, corporations, and community foundations generously contributed to support the Summer Clerkship Program.
MJF summer clerks provide their agency placements with intensive help with casework, research, and legal writing, working on a broad range of legal issues, including family, consumer, housing, immigration, and environmental law areas. In the past, clerks have performed legal research and case assistance on issues ranging from unlawful detainer actions to employment and housing discrimination matters brought on behalf of migrant farm workers. In addition, students often assist with complicated child custody cases involving abuse. As a result of this program, each MJF clerk helps her/his agency serve an average of 50 clients who could not have been served otherwise.
The long-term impact of these summer jobs on the clerks themselves, on the legal community and on the community at large is significant. The MJF summer clerkship experiences gives students the opportunity and the knowledge to consider public interest law as a career, or to commit to pro bono advocacy as a private attorney. Past MJF clerks who enter private practice carry with them a firsthand appreciation for the importance of legal services and public interest law. In addition, students will be exposed to under-served people and new geographic locations, all of which may affect their career choices. Many of MJF’s summer clerks return to rural and minority communities to practice law and continue to provide necessary legal services for low income and disadvantaged persons in Minnesota. Summer clerkships assist law students with developing the legal skills necessary to perform pro bono work after graduation. Our communities derive direct and consequential benefits from these clerkships. Law students serve the community for the summer, and as lawyers, are more likely to serve in law-related capacities throughout their careers. The program educates future lawyers about significant issues in areas of poverty law while giving them the exposure to the larger picture, and the tools to help solve these problems.
Thank you to the agencies that are hosting clerks during Summer 2017:
Standpoint; Central Minnesota Legal Services; Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid – Minnesota Disability Law Center; Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid – Housing Discrimination Law Project; Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid – Youth Law Project; Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights/Complaint Investigations Division; Minnesota AIDS Project; Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy; Neighborhood Justice Center; Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services Refugee, Immigrant and Migrant Services; Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services – Government Benefits; Tubman; Anishinabe Legal Services (Bemidji area); Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota (Duluth); Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota; Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) – Southwest Region (Mankato)
Visit Host a Summer Clerkship for more information on applying to work with an MJF Summer Clerk.
Check out Become a Summer Clerk for more information on applying for a Summer Clerkship position.