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Areas of Study

Public interest and social justice

Public Interest Law

The University of St. Thomas School of Law, inspired by its social justice mission, is committed to preparing students to become accomplished servant leaders in the practice of law who seek to address the needs and improve the conditions of the disadvantaged and underserved.

Our state, nation and world need passionate lawyers to help close the Justice Gap and tackle the inequities and inequalities that persist in our legal system and society.

St. Thomas Law will prepare you for these challenges and give you an opportunity to start making an impact while you are in law school.

Experiential learning opportunities, such as an externship or legal clinic, will help you build your skills and apply what you are learning in the classroom.

Our mentor program will pair you with a lawyer doing public interest work, such as a public defender or legal aid attorney, to help you gain experience and develop relationships in this area of the law.


Admissions Office

Phone Number
(651) 962-4895

Featured Faculty

Rachel Moran Headshot

Rachel Moran

Prior to teaching, Professor Moran worked at a criminal defense firm and in the Office of the Illinois State Appellate Defender, where she argued before the Illinois Supreme Court. She now leads the Criminal and Juvenile Defense clinic. Her research focuses on police accountability and reform.
More about Rachel Moran
Carl Warren Headshot

Carl Warren

Professor Warren directs the St. Thomas Community Justice Project, a policy-based clinic in which students investigate social justice issues that adversely affect the community. He is a frequent speaker on issues concerning race, civil rights and the administration of justice.
More about Carl Warren

Course List

Below are examples of some of the courses offered at St. Thomas Law for students interested in pursuing a career in public interest law.

  • Administrative Law
  • Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR)
  • Bioethics
  • Catholic Thought, Law and Policy
  • Child Abuse and the Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Constitutional Law 2
  • Controversies in Policing
  • Critical Perspectives: Race
  • Disability Law
  • Domestic Violence
  • Environmental Law
  • First Amendment: Religious Liberty
  • Human Trafficking and Exploitation
  • Immigration Law
  • International Human Rights
  • Jurisprudence
  • Labor Law
  • Leadership and Social Justice
  • Litigation with the Federal Government
  • Mediation
  • Moral Reasoning for Lawyers: Foundations I
  • Native American Law
  • Poverty Law
  • Race, American History and Law
  • Topics: Energy Law and Policy Practicum
  • Topics: Public Health Law
  • Topics: The Law of Lobbying
  • War, National Security and the Constitution
  • Workers’ Compensation

Experiential Learning

Legal Externships

Accelerate your professional development and understanding of the law in a legal externship.

Abdiasis Hirsi Law Student Extern

Fredrikson & Byron Public Interest Externship

Engage in legal work at a public interest organization or government agency, while examining complex issues of ethics, access to justice and broader public interest policies.
More about Externships
Erica Saluta headshot

Misdemeanor Defense Externship

Represent criminal defendants under the supervision of a public defender and gain experience in interviewing clients, criminal procedure and negotiating cases.
More about Externships

Legal Clinics

Represent and assist clients working in one of our 10 legal clinics. A few examples are listed below.

Community Justice Project

Engage in intensive research into practical solutions to longstanding challenges in our communities.

More about the Community Justice Project

Immigration Law Practice Group

Represent immigrants seeking asylum as a result of persecution or a fear of persecution in their home countries.

More about the Immigration Law Practice Group

Nonprofit Organizations Clinic

Help nonprofits get off the ground and sustain themselves as they promote social and economic justice here and abroad.

More about the Nonprofit Organizations Clinic

Special Education Clinic

The Special Education Clinic works with parents of elementary and secondary school students who have been identified as qualifying for special education services.

More about the Special Education Clinic

Student Clubs and Organizations

With 35+ student organizations, our students put their commitment to professional development, service, leadership and social justice to work. Some of our public interest-related clubs include:

  • American Constitution Society
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • Anti-Racism Alliance
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Greater Minnesota Practice Cooperative
  • Immigration Law Society
  • Minnesota Justice Foundation
Gio Rios portrait

Mentor Externship Program

We Pair Each Student With A Mentor

Each law student is matched with a mentor, who complements their interests and professional goals—such as a public defender or a legal aid attorney. Our mentors allow students to engage in legal work, professional networking and meaningful reflection.

Meet our Alumni

Lawyer Search is St. Thomas Law’s online directory of alumni. It is available to those with legal needs, for attorney networking and referrals and so current and prospective law students can meet attorneys working in their area of interest. Click below to connect with one of our alums!