SIU School of Law is one of the few schools in the country to guarantee its JD students an opportunity to participate in a legal clinic or field placement experience. Our commitment to providing exceptional practical skills training has been recognized by National Jurist magazine which has ranked us a "Best School for Practical Training" for the last four years.
Students who enroll in the Public Interest Externship will work in a publicly funded law office which provides public "service" type legal assistance. These include state's attorney offices, public defender offices, legal service offices, offices associated with a public university which have licensed attorneys on staff, such as the SIU Legal Counsel, SIU Student Attorney or the SIU Athletic Department.
The Judicial Externship Clinic provides a unique opportunity for law students to learn about the legal system by working for a sitting judge. While experiences vary from chambers to chambers, most placements allow externs to hone their research and writing skills while learning how judges make decisions and observing a wide range of courtroom proceedings.
The VLAP provides pro bono legal assistance to veterans in southern Illinois who cannot afford or do not have access to legal representation in the appeals of claims for compensation for service-connected disabilities; and petitions for the upgrade of other-than-honorable or bad conduct discharges for military members with post-traumatic stress (“PTSD”) or victims of military sexual assault (“MSA”).
The Innocence Project reviews evidence and uses post-conviction advanced forensic DNA testing. Evidence is reviewed for eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, ineffective counsel, unreliable forensic evidence and misconduct by prosecutors and police. If a case is taken the services are provided for free.
Several times each year, SIU law students have the opportunity to volunteer to visit the Tri‐County Justice & Detention Center in Ullin, IL to meet with the immigration detainees being held there by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The Joseph R. Bartylak Fellowship Program was created to assist students who accept nonpaying, full-time, public interest summer internships following their first or second year of law school.
SIU law students are required to complete 35 hours of pro bono work prior to graduation. While many schools encourage, support, or recognize pro bono work, this requirement is the first of its kind for a law school in Illinois.