Public Interest and Social Justice

Students conversing inside of the law library.A commitment to public service is one of the essential elements of the USF School of Law’s mission. Our extensive coursework and faculty expertise in public interest law are just the beginning. As a law student here, you will engage in innovative legal programs that serve the local community, the nation, and the world. Students can earn a Public Interest Law Certificate, and gain hands-on legal training through externships at government and nonprofit organizations that USF has longstanding partnerships with.

Our dual degree program allow students to earn both a master’s degree and a law degree in four years rather than five. The Master of Urban and Public Affairs offers coursework in applied urban studies and public policy, direct experience in analyzing policy alternatives, and interactions with community-based organizations, preparing students to work as specialists in analyzing the policy challenges of contemporary urbanism.

Our alumni can obtain substantial debt relief by combining the federal government’s loan forgiveness program with USF’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program. With these two programs, JD graduates can pursue public interest or low-paying work and experience significantly reduced monthly payments and, ultimately, loan forgiveness.

Students work together in support of underserved communities by participating in the law school’s in-house law clinics and scholarly centers and institutes, including the Street Law Program. Others provide pro bono legal assistance to rural California communities during winter and spring break service trips or work on death penalty cases in the American South through the Keta Taylor Colby Death Penalty Project.

At the heart of all these efforts is USF’s inclusive mission, which integrates humanity and ethical conduct into the practice of law. USF graduates do well while doing good.

My judicial externship offered me the ability to speak candidly with Justice James A. Richman about the matters appearing before him. This was exciting because it offered me an insight into judicial thinking and analysis. He inspired me to find my own voice and style in legal writing and taught me about effective oral advocacy.

Raymond R. Rollan ’14, externed at the California Court of Appeal; U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; San Francisco District Attorney's Office; and Oakland City Attorney's Office

Select Courses

  • Constitutional Law
  • Domestic Violence Litigation and Ethics
  • Education Law
  • International Human Rights
  • Poverty Law
  • Practice Readiness for Nonprofit Leadership
  • Sexuality Law
  • Wrongful Convictions

Faculty

  • Connie de la Vega is an advocate for reforming juvenile sentencing
  • Bill Ong Hing is a nationally known expert in immigration law
  • Richard Leo is a leading legal scholar in wrongful convictions
  • Rhonda Magee is a national leader in the movement to humanize law and legal education
  • Julie Nice is a leading scholar on constitutional law, poverty law, and sexuality law

 Dual Degrees

  • JD/Master of Arts in Urban and Public Affairs

Certificate

  • Public Interest Law

Clinics


 

  • Immigration Clinic
  • Racial Justice Clinic

Special Program

  • Keta Taylor Colby Death Penalty Project

Representative Externships

  • AIDS Legal Referral Panel
  • Asylum Access
  • Bayview/Hunters Point Community Legal
  • Eviction Defense Collaborative
  • Law Office of B.C. McComas
  • Legal Services for Children
  • Neyhart, Anderson, Flynn & Grosboll

Student Organizations

  • Pride Law
  • Public Interest Law Foundation

My judicial externship offered me the ability to speak candidly with Justice James A. Richman about the matters appearing before him. This was exciting because it offered me an insight into judicial thinking and analysis. He inspired me to find my own voice and style in legal writing and taught me about effective oral advocacy.

Raymond R. Rollan ’14, externed at the California Court of Appeal; U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; San Francisco District Attorney's Office; and Oakland City Attorney's Office