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Cornell Law School Office of Public Service Short

Giving Opportunities

Public Interest Program at Cornell Law School The ultimate goal is to endow the entire Public Interest Law Program in order to best respond to increasing demand and reduce reliance on the law school operating budget, which is driven by tuition. 

  • Endowing the entire program at Cornell Law School would require support of approximately $11 million.

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Public Interest Low-Income Protection Plan (PILIPP)The chief concern of most students committed to practicing law in the public interest is how they will repay their student loans and also meet the costs-of-living while earning salaries many times less than those of attorneys in private practice. To allay the anxiety our new public-interest J.D.s feel about beginning their respective careers in debt, as well as to provide tangible support, Cornell Law School offers the Public Interest Low-Income Protection Plan (PILIPP). Grants made through the PILIPP vary greatly depending on need, which we gauge by applying a formula that takes into account the applicant's geographical location, number of dependents, and spouse's salary / indebtedness, as well as reckoning the applicant's salary and repayment obligations. PILIPP grants help recent graduates bridge the gap between disposable income and disposable diapers—and/or other necessities appropriate to a reasonable standard of living to repay.

  • All current-year gifts to the PILIPP program are greatly appreciated.  Endowing the PILIPP program would require $5.1 million.  A $100,000 endowment for PILIPP would provide grant support for one graduate annually in perpetuity.

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Public Interest Fellowships (PIFs)Public Interest Fellowships (PIFs) fund costs-of-living for first- and second-year students who take unpaid summer jobs with public-sector entities or non-profit organizations. The value of a PIF is generally $1,600 and Cornell Law School typically awards 80-100 PIFs each year. Students help us raise some of this money themselves by volunteering to stuff envelopes and dial telephones both before and during the PIF Phonathon, and by participating in other fund-raising activities. The dollar value of a PIF is modest but the difference it makes is great, especially to a student who has already taken on substantial educational debt.

  • All current-year gifts to the PIF program are greatly appreciated.  Endowing the PIF program would require $4.5 million.  And endowment of $100,000 for PIF would support approximately three students per year in perpetuity.

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International Public Interest Fellowships (International PIFs)International PIF grants provide "make-up" funds for students who secure summer internships at governmental agencies or non-profit organizations overseas. Such postings cancel a student's eligibility for work-study funds, thus creating an instant shortfall of $2,400 in his or her budget. International PIFs provide this amount so that our students with overseas internships in the public sector will receive a full summer stipend. At this time, Cornell Law School grants five International PIFs each year in conjunction with particular "choice" postings at such NGOs as The United Nations, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Labour Organization, and others. Gifts to fund additional International PIFs will enable more of our students to pursue similar opportunities.

  • Endowing this program would require approximately $550,000.  An endowment of $100,000 would provide support to fund 1.5 International PIFs in perpetuity.

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