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NIU offering public interest law certificate

September 25, 2014

scales[1]Northern Illinois University College of Law announced it is offering a new certificate program in public interest law to complement its four other certificate programs in business law, international law, criminal practice and civil advocacy.

“NIU Law is nationally recognized for its public interest opportunities and curriculum, including clinics, externships and pro bono opportunities. This certificate takes advantage of the existing strength in our nationally recognized public interest program and, most importantly, focuses students on this specialized area of the law and makes this focused training evident to prospective employers,” said NIU Law Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea.

NIU Law students have a variety of community-focused public interest opportunities available to them to supplement the curriculum highlighted within the public interest certificate. The school opened the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford, Illinois in 2001 and added a juvenile program there in 2011. NIU Law also operates a foreclosure mediation clinic in Kane County and health advocacy clinic at Hesed House, a homeless clinic in Aurora, assisting patients with legal matters.

law-studentsIn addition to clinical opportunities, students can pursue a wide array of legal externships in criminal, civil and judicial settings. NIU Law also offers a pro bono initiative pairing students and mentoring attorneys in nearby counties who are willing to engage in legal work on behalf of persons of limited means or underserved populations.
As with all of the NIU Law certificate programs, students qualifying for a public interest law certificate must satisfy minimum grade and course requirements. The courses are selected from a mix of courses, directed research opportunities, clinical programs, and externships devoted primarily to the study of public interest law. An applicant for the public interest certificate must also complete the qualifications for College of Law approved pro bono service recognition, which requires sixty hours of service prior to graduation.
The new public interest law certificate program is in effect for all current students at the College of Law. Law students who successfully complete the requirements of a certificate program will receive the certificate notation on their law school transcripts.

As the only public law school in northern Illinois, NIU College of Law has been named a top law school nationally for diversity, value, and careers in public interest/government service. NIU Law provides unique opportunities for its students, beginning with its highly accomplished faculty who are personally invested in the success of every student throughout their professional lives. Although many alumni serve as public interest attorneys, prosecutors, defenders, elected officials, and judges, they are equally prepared for careers as solo practitioners or lawyers in multinational firms.

For more information on the new J.D. certificate in public interest law, visit the NIU Law website.