Students walking down ASU College of Law Hall

Developing leaders in public interest and public service

Following in the footsteps of a trailblazer

The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University is dedicated to serving the community as advocates and preparing our students for public service - all in keeping with the legacy of our namesake, the late Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Justice O'Connor served in all three branches of government and was passionate about preserving the rule of law across the globe. 

“Justice O’Connor quickly realized what a wonderful path she had taken, because she found that life as a public lawyer was more interesting, more challenging, the guidance and encouragement she got from mentors was more genuine, and that the opportunities to exercise initiative and see results were more immediate.”

The Honorable Scott Bales Chief Justice, Arizona Supreme Court, Ret.
Students in couty

Public interest fellowships

Academic and legal fellowships at ASU Law offer students the chance to receive financial support for education or post-career training to help them on their journey as a law student and beyond. These merit-based financial awards can include internship or externship opportunities for hands-on learning. They are located in ASU Law's three locations (Phoenix, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.) and internationally.

ASU Law offers the following fellowships that students can apply to: 

Academic fellowships

  • Gideon Fellowship for Criminal Defense
  • Truman R. Young Prosecutorial Fellowship
  • ASU Law Summer Public Interest Fellowship
  • Squire Patton Boggs Foundation Fellowships
  • The International Rule of Law and Security (IRLS) Summer Fellowship

Postgraduate fellowships

  • Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellowships
  • Skadden Fellowships
  • Fulbright Study/Research Award
  • Public Service and Leadership Development Fellows with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Learn more about fellowships

City council

Public interest internships and externships

ASU Law is one law school in three locations: Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Our Phoenix headquarters is the only law school in Arizona's capital and just steps from government agencies and courts. Our building in Los Angeles is located in the heart of the city's downtown. The Washington, D.C., location is several blocks from the U.S. Capitol and the White House. ASU Law students can design their desired experiences, including opportunities outside the U.S.

If financial assistance is required, ASU Law provides scholarships and funding options, including monetary support through the Pay It Forward program for students who have secured unpaid public interest opportunities. If you desire to continue in public service, the state offers help through a public service student loan forgiveness program for those who secure a job in the field.

Phoenix, Arizona placements

Students can participate in over 450 approved externship placements, and the opportunities to work with students and employers increase each semester. Externships fall into five categories: judicial, non-profit, government, legislative, and private firms. Roughly 85% of ASU Law students have done at least one externship by the time they graduate, with many completing three or four.

  • Arizona Attorney General's Office
  • Arizona Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court - District of Arizona
  • U.S. Attorney's Office
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - EEOC
Corner at BCLS
Street view of DC Institute

Washington, D.C. placements

ASU Law’s D.C. Program offers second and third-year law students the chance to gain critical real-world experience in the U.S. capital. Students who take advantage of this program gain access to connections and job opportunities in Washington, D.C. Here are some of those job opportunities our students have earned:

  • U.S. Senate
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • State Department
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • World Bank
  • US Department of Justice
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA)

Public Interest Clinical Programs

ASU Law offers clinical experience for students to engage in challenging and rewarding legal cases for real clients. Our program offers a wide variety of experiences through the ten clinics: Civil Litigation, First Amendment, Immigration, Indian Legal, Patent, Entrepreneurship and Small Business and Post-Conviction as well as the three outside clinics: Lodestar Mediation, Public Defender and Prosecution. Students are under the direct supervision of faculty and practicing attorneys to hone their skills.

Many of the clinics touch public interest matters in some capacity. Specifically, the Public Defender Clinic provides students the opportunity to represent indigent defendants in criminal cases in the Maricopa County Superior Court and Justice Courts.

Learn more

Leadership training and academies

The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law D.C. Leadership Academy is available in our Washington, D.C. location for undergraduate and graduate students. The program provides students with the tools and training to be successful as they embark on their careers. Whether they aim to work in government or become better community advocates, ASU Law will help them serve the common good through this free summer program.

The American Indian Policy Institute offers the Indigenous Leadership Academy. It is the first program to include Indigenous leadership principles for emerging Indigenous leaders in Arizona and across the country. Cohort participants learn leadership practices, responsibility, Indigenous knowledge, communications skills, and an understanding of Tribal sovereignty to become the best leaders for Tribal or non-Tribal organizations.

Indian Legal Program student raising their hands in a fake jury selection Moot Court.
Students visiting one another

Public interest career services

The ASU Law Career Services office supports students with opportunities and guides them in preparing and interviewing for a career in public interest law. The dedicated staff provides services from finding an externship, interviewing, or job placement after graduation. 

In their second and third years, law students can gain hands-on practical experiences through externship opportunities in various legal areas with real clients. Events, speakers, and programming dedicated to careers in public service are provided by the department, in addition to one-on-one guidance and coaching. After graduation, alumni can continue to access career support in addition to ASU Law's vast global legal network. 

Learn more about career services

ASU Law alumni in public interest careers

Alexander Mallory

Judicial Clerk, European Court of Justice

“My grandfather, who worked in public service nearly his whole life, showed me that the government — and particularly the law — can be a force for good if harnessed properly.”

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Headshot of Alexander Mallory
Headshot of Julian

Julian Puthenpurayil

Squire Patton Boggs Foundation Fellow, Yuma County Public Defender's Office

“I wanted to enter the legal field because I wanted a job that addressed issues in the criminal justice system, which I studied as an undergraduate and graduate student, and one in which I would interact with and help individuals. Helping others is the reason I went to law school in the first place."

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