Public Interest Law | School of Law | SIU

Southern Illinois University

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Public Interest Law

Faculty Advisor: Gail Thomas

To complete the Specialization in Public Interest Law and receive a transcript notation and certificate acknowledging the completion of the Specialization, students must satisfy the following five requirements.

The minimum 18 credits must include:

  • Core Course requirement: at least one of the three courses
  • Writing requirement: at least 3 credits
  • Elective Course requirement: at least 3 credits
  • Skills Course requirement: at least 9 credits

Also, students must timely submit the applicable Declaration of Intent form and related checklist to the faculty advisor. 

1. Core Course requirement

Students are required to take at least one of the following three “core” public interest law courses:

  • Administrative Law
  • State and Local Government
  • Civil Rights

2. Public Interest Law Writing

Students are required to complete a writing component involving a public interest law topic with a minimum of 3 credit hours. The student may satisfy this 3-credit requirement from among the following:

  • Senior Writing Seminar
  • Independent Study
  • Writing an article as a staff member of the SIU Law Journal or the Journal of Legal Medicine regarding a public interest law related topic if pre-approved for this requirement by the faculty advisor for the Public Interest Law Specialization or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The number of credit hours relating to the Journal of Legal Medicine and the SIU Law Journal is discussed below.
  • Advanced Moot Court with topic approval by the faculty advisor for the Public Interest Law Specialization.

2. Elective Course requirement

Students are required to take a minimum of 3 credit hours from among the “core courses” or the following "elective courses" as available:

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Children and the Law
  • Client Interviewing and Counseling
  • Disability Law
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Family Law
  • First Amendment Rights
  • Immigration Law
  • Mental Health Law
  • Public Health Law

4. Skills Course Requirement

Students are required to complete a minimum of 9 credit hours of skills courses involving public interest related topics. The student may satisfy this requirement from among the following:

  • Civil Practice (Elder Law) Clinic
  • Domestic Violence Clinic
  • Juvenile Justice Clinic
  • Public Interest Externship if pre-approved to meet this requirement by the faculty advisor for the Public Interest Law Specialization or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

5. Extracurricular Activities

Students must participate in designated extracurricular activities as follows:

Membership and substantial involvement in the Equal Justice Works Organization for a minimum of one academic year, OR

Attendance at a minimum of two designated public interest-related events including but not limited to:

  • Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Events
  • Equal Justice Works Fellowship Lecture
  • Immigration Detention Project Participation
  • Self Help Legal Center Participation
  • Illinois Law and Leadership Participation
  • Other activities or public events as approved by the faculty advisor

Note #1: The number of credit hours relating to an article for the Journal of Legal Medicine or the SIU Law Journal would be based on the number of credit hours the student eventually acquires from service for the Journal of Legal Medicine or the SIU Law Journal, respectively, up to a maximum of three credits.  For example, if a student earns one credit hour for the Fall of second year from the SIU Law Journal while writing an article on a public interest law topic that is appropriately approved by the Faculty Advisor for the Public Interest Law Specialization or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, but the student thereafter earns no further credits for service to the SIU Law Journal, the student will have earned only one credit hour toward meeting the Public Interest Law writing requirement. In contrast, if a student writes an article that is similarly approved and eventually earns at least two more credits for service to the SIU Law Journal, the student will have satisfied the 3 credit hour writing requirement for the Public Interest Law Specialization.

Note #2:  Even if this website description changes, the requirements applicable for a particular student will be from the website description as of the date the student submitted the Declaration of Intent form, unless the student, and either the faculty advisor for the Public Interest Law Specialization or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, agree that a subsequent website description will apply.


(last revised May 2016)