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A group of students after volunteering at Gibbs Farm

Fostering a Community

Public Service

School of Law Public Service

Serving others during your time in law school will ensure that you remain a member of the broader community and foster your commitment to pro bono work throughout your legal career.

At St. Thomas Law, we recognize that lawyers are in a strong position to effect positive institutional and social change. As such, we expect and encourage all law students to explore a variety of ways their interests, skills and talents can best serve the public. As a requirement for graduation, all J.D. students must complete 50 hours of public service during law school.

Law Students Pack Food at Feed My Starving Children

Public Service Board

A Public Service Board of current students and administrators oversees the public service program. It collects and distributes information about public service opportunities, maintains the online logging system, determines whether particular activities constitute approved public service and keeps records of approved public service performed by law students.

Public Service Board

Examples of Public Service Work

Many different types of service will count toward the hours needed for the graduation requirement, including pro bono public legal work and non-legal volunteer projects that help those in need. Here are some examples:

  • Pack meals with Feed My Starving Children
  • Client intake for the Volunteer Lawyer’s Network
  • Assemble hygiene packs for the United Way
  • Correspond with inmates through the Prison Pen Pal program
  • Deliver dinners for Meals on Wheels
  • Build and repair homes with Habitat for Humanity
  • Advocate through the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
  • Tutor students online through Learn to Be
  • Identify and map racial restrictions for Mapping Prejudice
  • Staff a legal hotline for low-income renters for Home Line MN
Law students help clients at a legal clinic

Minnesota Justice Foundation

St. Thomas Law students also have access to public service opportunities through the Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF). Starting their first year in law school, students will find opportunities through MJF to volunteer under the supervision of lawyers in a variety of subject matter areas assisting with legal clinics, completing research projects, staffing legal hotlines and many more opportunities. Whether you are looking for more exposure to a particular field of law, a larger network of contacts in the legal community, or more personal experience, legally-related volunteering can be an important part of your time at St. Thomas.

In addition, MJF coordinates a Summer Clerkship Program, providing paid clerkships at Public interest law offices and government entities in Minnesota.

Places Students Serve:

  • Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA)
  • Central Minnesota Legal Services (CMLS)
  • Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS)
  • Justice North
  • Legal Services of Dakota County
  • Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
  • Volunteer Lawyers Network
  • Public Defender’s Office
  • Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights
  • Neighborhood Justice Center
  • St. Paul and Minneapolis City Attorney offices
  • Just Deeds Project