St. Thomas: Yes. However, volunteer work for UST’s graduation requirement (50 hours) need not be law-related, and MJF volunteer work must be law-related. Volunteer hours logged with MJF can and should also be logged in the UST tracking system so students can receive credit toward their graduation requirement.
Mitchell Hamline: No.
University of Minnesota: No.
Students who log 50+ law-related volunteer hours through their MJF accounts receive recognition at graduation. Students may log hours from volunteer opportunities available through MJF or through other sources.
To get recognition from MJF and your law school for your law-related public service work, you need to log at least 50+ hours of eligible volunteer work in your MJF account by the time you graduate from law school. Each law school has its own forms of recognition for its students that volunteer 50+ hours:
Mitchell Hamline: Students that log 50+ volunteer hours receive recognition in the printed graduation program, a transcript notation, and a certificate. Students that volunteer 150+ hours also receive golden honor cords to wear at graduation.
St. Thomas: Students that log 50+ volunteer hours receive recognition in the printed graduation program, recognition at the Mission Awards ceremony, and a certificate.University of Minnesota: Students that log 50+ volunteer hours receive a recognition in the printed graduation program, a transcript notation, a certificate, and blue honor cords to wear at graduation.
Yes. On the MJF website, there are notations next to the placements that are remote and/or flexible. The best way to determine if a volunteer position is remote and/or flexible is to meet with your staff attorney and talk to them about the placement.
Yes. We encourage you to explore possibilities for your career by trying different volunteer opportunities. You never know what areas of law may be of interest to you. Additionally, Minnesota Attorneys have identified an aspirational goal for all attorneys to do 50+ hours a year of pro bono legal service. Volunteering is a great way to find opportunities, not only for you during law school, but ways you can volunteer your time once you are a licensed attorney.
Through the MJF website, we offer volunteer opportunities in the fall (beginning on August 1), spring (beginning on December 1), and summer (beginning on April 1). New opportunities may arise throughout the year and MJF may send out targeted emails based on the information students include in their interest profiles.
MJF offers the following programs to students: Law School Public Service Program (LSPSP), Volunteer opportunities in fall, spring, and summer semesters, a paid Summer Fellowship program, Street Law, Student chapters at each of the three law schools, Programs, trainings, information sessions, and we also offer a paid public interest fellowship (PILF/PIC) each summer (dependent upon student chapter fundraising)
MJF’s main program is the Law School Public Service Program, or LSPSP. Through the MJF website, we offer volunteer opportunities in the fall (beginning on August 1), spring (beginning on December 1), and summer (beginning on April 1). Students who log 50+ law-related volunteer hours through their MJF accounts receive recognition at graduation. Students may log hours from law-related volunteer opportunities available through MJF or through other sources.
Through our Street Law program, students form teams of 2 or 3 and are matched with a middle school or high school classroom to teach for one hour per week during spring semester. Students receive training over the MLK Holiday weekend, and teach on topics related to legal rights, responsibilities, and resources. MJF holds an info session about the program during fall semester.
We also administer a Summer Fellowship Program, referred to as SFP. Students apply to work at public interest law offices. MJF provides funds for a modest hourly wage for 400 hours of work. Most of these clerkships are in the metro area, and there are several in Greater Minnesota.
PILF/PIC funding has an application process through which students secure an unpaid summer position with a host agency and then develop a proposal to apply for funding through their school’s MJF Student Chapter. The funds for PILF/PIC are raised through the efforts of the MJF Student Chapters during that school year.
The Law School Public Service Program (LSPSP) is a collaborative effort of MJF, the Minnesota law schools, the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA), and legal service providers throughout Minnesota, to promote an ethic of public service in Minnesota law students and to increase the availability of legal services to Minnesota’s low-income populations. MJF matches interested law students with volunteer opportunities in the Twin Cities metro area and in Greater Minnesota. Volunteer opportunities are available with varying time commitments, in a variety of legal subject areas. Students may also create their own volunteer placements at organizations within or beyond Minnesota, provided it meets MJF’s eligibility requirements.
It depends. If the administrative work relates to the law and is public service orientated, then it may qualify. Please contact your school staff attorney for more details.
First, try using a different internet browser, such as Firefox or Chrome. If you have forgotten your account password, click on the “Send my password” link on the bottom of the student sign-in page. If problems persist, contact email@example.com.
It depends on the specific volunteer placement. In most cases, you do not need to apply to volunteer; simply create a student account and get a referral from your MJF staff attorney! However, there are some instances where an agency asks MJF to post a competitive placement or requires additional steps and/or submission of application materials prior to sending a referral.
Here is a video link that will walk you through creating an account.
Go to MJF’s website. Click “Student Log-In” in the upper right corner, then select “Sign Up” at the bottom of the sign-in screen.
Then, fill out your personal information as prompted. Please provide as much information as possible about your interests and skills so that MJF can reach out to you with opportunities that are tailored to your interests.
Once you’ve completed the sign up process, you may begin to search for placements.
During your meeting with the staff attorney, if you decide you would like to commit to a volunteer opportunity, the staff attorney will “refer” you to the agency you are committing to work with. The staff attorney will send you an email with the agency’s contact information. Please contact the agency and let them know you have been referred by MJF and ask what the next steps are to begin volunteering. If the staff attorney tells you to send a resume/cover letter/writing sample, please include it in your initial email to the agency contact. The staff attorney also sends the agency contact an email letting them know you will be contacting them. It is important that students follow through with this referral for a number of reasons. Please also remember to let your staff attorney know how this process shapes up – were you able to connect with the agency? – are you able to volunteer with them? – when will you begin volunteering?
There are a variety of opportunities available to incoming and 1L students. Please check out the placements marked “available to ALL” that are currently available on the MJF website to find out more information.
As a first year student, courtroom experience would likely be observation-based; however, once you have completed the equivalent to a full school year of classes and have been deemed “in good standing” by your law school (rising 2L+), you can work with agencies and your school to become a Student Certified Attorney. In that role, you are able to appear on the record in court under the supervision of a licensed attorney. The frequency and breadth of court appearances are different depending on the organization with whom you are volunteering.
Externships for credit are options at each of the three MN law schools. Each school has a different process to enroll. Many students choose to continue volunteering with an organization and will work with their school to convert that volunteer position into an externship for credit. Additionally, sometimes students need ideas for externships and your staff attorney would be happy to discuss volunteer opportunities that may want a number of volunteer hours per week that would be willing to work with your school to bring you on as an extern.
It depends! If you volunteer through MJF, you can choose to speak to your school and supervisor about turning your volunteer placement into an externship. If you would like to find a place to volunteer that might consider an extern, make an appointment with your school staff attorney or take a look at the open opportunities on our website and then discuss the ones that look interesting with your staff attorney.
There are a variety of options that may qualify for volunteer hours. Generally for MJF eligibility, work must be: 1) law-related; 2) public interest or public service-related; 3) unpaid; and 4) not for academic credit. If you have volunteered in a legal capacity with a pro bono attorney, government agency, or 501(c)(3) non-profit, please let your staff attorney know the details to confirm whether the work can count for MJF hours. Also, surplus hours that exceed the course credit requirement for some public interest externships, field placements, or clinics may be counted as MJF hours. Contact your school’s staff attorney with any questions.
Yes. All training – including asynchronous training sessions – can and should be tracked as time spent volunteering with your volunteer agencies.
This is likely the case! If your clinic serves the community in a way that is in line with Rule 6.1, the time you log over and above the required hours of the class can be counted as volunteer hours.
No, it is not too late! Contact your MJF staff attorney for assistance and to learn the pre-graduation reporting deadlines for your school.
Typically, you can record MJF volunteer hours for the time you spend volunteering the summer before you begin taking law school classes. For instance, if you participate in a volunteer service project after participating in Navigating Public Interest (NPI), but before you attend new student orientation or before you attend your first class you can still record the volunteer hours from the service project! (St. Thomas students should note that no hours prior to NPI can be logged on the UST system toward your graduation requirement). If you still have questions about this, please contact your school staff attorney.
This is likely the case! If your externship serves the community in a way that is in line with Rule 6.1, the time you log over and above the required hours of the class can be counted as volunteer hours.
Yes. You likely qualify for an Externship Hours Overage placement. Please contact your school’s MJF staff attorney for more information.
No, the attorney would have to be working with the client on a pro bono or low bono basis. If the attorney is charging the client their regular rate, then they would not be providing pro bono services according to MJF standards.
Sign in to your MJF account, and proceed to the home screen. You will see menu options including “Edit Account,” “Search Placements,” and “Log Hours.” Click the “Log Hours” link to view your list of confirmed volunteer placements.
To log your volunteer hours, click the title of that particular placement from your list. Next, fill out the log sheet as prompted. Please remember to include training time in your total hours. Once you have filled in the log sheet, check the affirmation box at the bottom of the page and click “Submit.”
If you go to log volunteer hours and your list of confirmed placements is blank or missing some information, contact your MJF staff attorney. The staff attorney can determine whether the volunteer opportunity you have been engaged in is eligible for MJF hours, and then they will add the placement to your profile for you to log the hours at your convenience.
Please note that MJF records are organized by semester. If you continue a volunteer placement into a new semester (or summer), please contact your staff attorney to update your MJF account’s placement list so you can log your hours under the appropriate semester(s).
Contact your school’s MJF staff attorney. The staff attorney can determine whether the volunteer opportunity you have been engaged in is eligible for MJF hours, and then they will add the placement to your profile for you to log the hours at your convenience. If you were referred by MJF, your staff attorney just needs to confirm the placement in your account and you’ll be able to log the hours.
Small groups of law students teach fundamental legal rights, responsibilities and resources to students in middle school, high school, and adult learning centers.
There will be an info session in the fall that will provide you with more detailed information about Street Law. You will receive information about signing up from your school’s staff attorney. Once you sign up that you are interested in the program/the MJF Street Law program director/your staff attorney will send you information about the classrooms available and a link that will allow you and your partner(s) to choose a classroom for Spring semester.
You are encouraged to find partner(s) who have similar schedules so that you are able to easily identify a classroom which will work for you to volunteer in the Spring. If you are unable to find a partner, contact your school staff attorney so that they can help you find someone else who is looking for a partner. Other options to find potential partners: 1) post on your class social media pages, 2) join your school’s MJF Student Chapter to meet other students interested in public interest law, or 3) talk to classmates about friends of friends who might be interested.
GENERAL STUDENT CHAPTER QUESTIONS
You can reach out to your staff attorney to connect with the members of your school’s MJF Student Chapter.
The MJF Student Chapters organize and host educational events (for example, a panel of public defenders to talk about what their practice is like), volunteer opportunities, and fundraising events. The funds raised by each Student Chapter goes toward the Public Interest Law Fellowship/Public Interest Clerkship program also known as PILF/PIC.
It depends. Please review the NY Bar’s FAQ about eligible volunteer activities. Some volunteer opportunities available through MJF do not qualify for the New York Bar’s pro bono requirement. MJF does not fill out the Affidavit of Compliance for your volunteer work; the affidavit should be filled out by an attorney who supervised your volunteer work. Please note, it is easiest to get the affidavit signed during or immediately after the time when you are volunteering, because it can be hard to track down supervisors after time has passed (people switch jobs, etc).
The Tri-School Public Interest Expo, affectionately known as Tri-PIE, is a chance to bring public interest legal services together to meet with students. This is an opportunity to learn more about agencies in Minnesota (both metro and state-wide), to talk with attorneys about their journeys and what they like/don’t like about their jobs. Some of the agencies represented at Tri-PIE may also host Summer Fellow positions through MJF or have historically hosted PILF/PIC students and you could learn more about those opportunities as well.
SUMMER FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM QUESTIONS
MJF staff fundraise for and administer the Summer Fellowship Program. Mitchell Hamline and St. Thomas students fundraise for and administer the PILF programs at their respective schools, and University of Minnesota students fundraise for and administer the PIC program.
MJF fundraises and receives support from individuals, bar associations, bar foundations, and law firms.
Yes! Although available options may be a bit more limited. Students are encouraged to apply for positions through MJF, but please keep in mind that you can also find local opportunities too.
You can contact the staff attorney by stopping into their office at Mitchell Hamline in Room 110 (please wear a mask) or by calling (651) 290-8658 or emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PILF is a Public Interest Law Fellowship. It is different from SFP because SFP has students apply to agencies MJF has selected and PILF provides law school students with the unique opportunity to design their own summer clerkships in the public interest legal field. Students who apply for PILF funding pursue their own interests and create their own opportunities. Each applicant selects an appropriate agency, arranges the details of the clerkship with the agency, and ensures that the proposal meets all PILF criteria.
All Mitchell Hamline students who are scheduled to graduate no earlier than Fall the following year are eligible to apply.
Each applicant must submit a completed application, a resume and a letter of commitment from the agency.
All applications are reviewed by the PILF Selection Committee to ensure adherence to fellowship guidelines. If an application does not meet the PILF criteria, the application will not be considered.
You can find out more about the PILF process by emailing the MJF Student Chapter or contacting your staff sttorney.
Your school staff attorney can be a resource for summer placement ideas and can suggest potential contacts. Other resources include Symplicity and your career counselor.
Students can get the public service notation by logging at least 50 eligible law-related volunteer hours in their MJF account. The MHSL staff attorney will communicate with the registrar to update student transcripts with notations.
Please reach out to your school staff attorney to learn more about the Mitchell Hamline MJF Student Chapter.
The Civic Scholars Initiative (CSI) encourages law students to participate in elections by voting, volunteering, and learning about the election process in Minnesota and nationally. Civic engagement is defined broadly to include any activities related to the electoral process. Involvement with Civic Scholars Initiative volunteer activities during law school is one component of the CSI program. CSI and MJF each have their own criteria for what volunteer work is eligible for their programs.
No, you cannot count a CSI volunteer activity for MJF hours. Certain volunteer opportunities may be eligible under both CSI and MJF criteria, and in those cases, UMN law students must choose one program or the other for the applicability of that particular volunteer experience.
In partnership with the University of Minnesota Law School, MJF challenges all JD students to complete at least 50 hours of law-related public service before graduation. MJF matches students with non-profit and government agencies in Minnesota and nationwide, giving them the opportunity to serve clients while gaining valuable skills under attorney supervision. Students that complete the 50-Hour challenge get a notation of their official transcript and other forms of recognition at graduation.
Students can get the public service notation by logging at least 50 eligible law-related volunteer hours in their MJF account. The UMN staff attorney will communicate with the registrar to update student transcripts with notations.
The MJF offices at UMN are located on the fourth floor of Mondale Hall, in room 429. You can contact the staff sttorney by stopping into the office or emailing Kendall Hames at email@example.com.
Yes. Email the UMN staff attorney to get ALP added to your MJF account so you can log your volunteer hours for that experience.
PIC (Public Interest Clerkship) is a summer funding option for law students who have an unpaid job with a public interest host agency. PIC is funded by the efforts of the UMN MJF Student Chapter, and it is open to UMN Law students only. Students apply for PIC once they have secured a summer placement with a public interest agency and develop a proposal for funding. The PIC program is run by students for students. The PIC committee (members of the MJF Student Chapter) reviews the applications on an anonymous basis and awards the funds to the selected PIC recipients. To review the application, visit the UMN Student Chapter’s website.
PIC is a completely different process than SFP (Summer Fellowship Program). PIC is a summer funding option for students with unpaid jobs, whereas SFP is a paid summer position at a public interest host agency that is arranged and funded by MJF. SFP is open to 1L and 2L students at all three law schools in Minnesota, and the application process occurs during winter break and early spring semester. SFP host agencies decide which students to interview and hire for the summer fellowships, and MJF provides the funding for the position.
The UMN staff attorney can be a resource for summer placement ideas and can suggest potential contacts. Other resources include Symplicity and your career counselor.
You are encouraged to log your law-related volunteer hours in both systems (MJF’s website and Tommie Link). Your entry in Tommie Link will allow UST to give you credit for those hours toward your graduation requirement. Entries on the MJF website will allow you to receive recognition by MJF for your service.
Logging the same hours in MJF and UST’s system is NOT double-dipping. (Double-dipping usually refers to logging hours you volunteer as a mentor experience for class credit and toward your 50 hour volunteer requirement.)
The MJF office at UST is in MSL 246. You can contact Christy Botts, the UST staff attorney at firstname.lastname@example.org or via cell at 612-205-6640. Her office number is 651-962-4859, but since Christy is only a part-time employee, connecting via email or cell is more effective.
PILF stands for Public Interest Law Fellowship. The MJF Student Chapter and Alumni Relations work hard every year to fundraise for PILF grants. Students are able to identify non-profits or government agencies to work with in the summer. If those organizations are unable to pay the law student, the student can apply for funding through the PILF. As of Summer 2021, a full-time PILF is funded at $5,400 for 360 hours of time worked. Students can also apply for a half-PILF ($2,700 for 180 hours). UST is dedicated to providing at least one full-time PILF (or the equivalent) each summer.
SFP is the MJF Summer Fellowship Program. Agencies apply to MJF in the fall to host a full-time student law clerk the following summer. Once MJF agrees to grant the agency a summer fellow, the agency chooses who to interview and to whom offers should be extended. MJF helps move this process forward by coordinating interviews and compiling offers from all of the agencies and informing applicants of their offers.
The UST staff attorney can be a resource for summer placement ideas and can suggest potential contacts. Other resources include Symplicity and UST’s Career and Professional Development office. The staff attorney is happy to help brainstorm ideas of agencies that you could contact to begin the PILF process. However, the key to finishing the PILF application is communication between the agency and the site. You will need to work with them on what the job description would look like and the agency needs to provide you with a letter of support for the summer position.
The MJF Student Chapter organizes and hosts educational events (for example, a panel of public defenders to talk about what their practice is like), volunteer opportunities, and fundraising events. The funds raised by each Student Chapter goes toward the Public Interest Law Fellowship (PILF).
Student volunteers are committing to one semester with your organization (unless otherwise noted in the description). Fall semester typically begins in August or September and ends around Thanksgiving. Spring semester typically begins mid-January and ends in April. Summer typically begins mid-May and ends in August or the end of July.
Students are encouraged to reach out to their agency supervisor if they are interested in staying on another semester. Agencies are also encouraged to discuss (prior to the end of the semester) whether current students have the ability and interest to stay on another semester.
Law students have little control over their class schedules (first year students have no control) and do not know until after registration what their next semester will look like.
Preparing for midterms and finals can be a gruelling time for law students and they may find themselves more overwhelmed than expected. Students are encouraged to discuss options for taking time off with their supervisors. Supervisors are also encouraged to be proactive about discussing when those times will be so they are not caught by surprise.
For 1L students adjusting to the rigors of law school, MJF recommends smaller time commitments for volunteering (5 hours a week or less).
For 2L+ students, the typical time commitment may be higher (5-10 hours per week) for students who do not have a job or other commitments outside of law school.
While classes are in session, most students cannot commit to volunteering more than 8-12 hours per week.
During school breaks (winter break, spring break, and summer vacation), students may be able to accommodate more volunteer hours in their schedules (part-time or full-time options).
Project descriptions serve as an advertisement of your project to potential volunteers – please include information about the tasks that will be assigned to the law student volunteer(s). Feel free to use a job description if you have one for the volunteer position(s). If there are any necessary skills or prerequisites, please describe them. Clearly indicate whether the volunteer can work remotely* or in-person, or a combination of both. Project descriptions should also include an estimate of the time commitment involved for a student volunteer (ex: x hours per week; x hours total for the project). *If your agency has work that can be done remotely – but has an in-office element – please note that, because “remote work” may attract students who live in areas that make it difficult/impossible for them to come into the office on a regular basis.
Through the MJF website, we offer volunteer opportunities in the fall (beginning on August 1), spring (beginning on December 1), and summer (beginning on April 1). We understand that new opportunities may arise throughout the year and MJF can send out targeted emails to students.
Yes. There is no minimum requirement for the length of a volunteer project, and MJF likes to offer a variety of placement types to students. Also, many law students prefer to volunteer on short-term projects.
Many people find that supervising law students is a wonderful way to mentor and to help a law student find their way into a meaningful career. We ask that you be available to answer any questions that may arise when students are working with you, but there is no specific time commitment.
Student volunteers are interested in a variety of areas of law. Students are excited to have client contact, to observe attorneys in their work, and to do research and writing projects. Students come with a variety of skills and talents and some may need more guidance/coaching/feedback than others.
Law students are very busy people with a lot of interests competing for their time. MJF recommends that students volunteer no more than 10 hours a week to maintain a schedule that does not overwhelm them and allows them to be successful. However, there are students who have successfully volunteered more than that. Others have been successful in working with their school to gain class credit through an externship for volunteer positions that require more of a time commitment. The law school will likely have agreements and policies and procedures around reporting requirements to the school when a student is receiving class credit. Work with the law student and the law school to learn more about this.
Yes. Any hours done in excess of the class requirement can be logged as MJF hours (provided the externship job duties are in line with Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 6.1).
MJF partner agencies use two approaches to deciding to take on volunteers:
MOST POPULAR APPROACH – Agencies let MJF know how many volunteers they would like to work with in the semester. MJF staff attorneys meet with students, discuss the requirements for the volunteer position with the students to ensure that the student is willing and able to meet those requirements. Once a student commits, MJF sends a referral to the student asking them to reach out to the agency contact. MJF also sends an email to the agency letting them know that the student will be in contact. Many agencies choose to have a phone interview to ensure that the information the student has is in line with what the agency is looking for. Once that phone interview is completed, the student and agency should get in touch with their MJF contact to let them know that they will begin volunteering. Once MJF sends as many students to the agency as the agency has requested, the opportunity is closed. If for some reason the referred student is unable to commit to the agency, the agency should contact MJF so that we can re-open the opportunity for other students.
SECONDARY APPROACH – Some agencies would prefer to receive application materials from students who may be interested in their volunteer opportunity and then to conduct interviews for the position. If your agency would like to use this approach, please connect with the staff attorney you are working with to determine how you would like to receive application materials and how often.
There are pros and cons to both approaches. Feel free to reach out to your MJF contact to discuss the option that best serves your organization.
MJF works with students from all three Minnesota Law Schools, including LLM, Part-time, and Hybrid (online/in-person blended learning) students.
ALS – Anishinabe Legal Services
CLC – Children’s Law Center of Minnesota
CMLS – Central Minnesota Legal Services
ICWLC – Indian Child Welfare Act Law Center
ILCM – Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
LADC – Legal Assistance of Dakota County
LAOC – Legal Assistance of Olmsted County
LASNEM – Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota
LSNM – Legal Aid of Northwest Minnesota
LSSS – Legal Services State Support
MMLA – Mid Minnesota Legal Aid
SMRLS – Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services
VLN – Volunteer Lawyers Network
LRC – Legal Rights Center
NJC – Neighborhood Justice Center
HABA – Hmong American Bar Association
HCBA – Hennepin County Bar Association
MABL – Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers
MAIBA – Minnesota American Indian Bar Association
MHBA – Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association
MLBA – Minnesota Lavender Bar Association
MNAPABA – Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association
MSBA – Minnesota State Bar Association
MWL – Minnesota Women Lawyers
RCBA – Ramsey County Bar Association
ALP – Asylum Law Project
EJW – Equal Justice Works
HRAP – Human Rights Advocacy Project
LO – Legal Observer
LSPSP – Law School Public Service Program (50 hour challenge)
NLG – National Lawyers Guild
MJF – Minnesota Justice Foundation
Tri-PIE – Tri-School Public Interest Expo