Public Interest/Public Service Scholarship

Application Form
Frequently Asked Questions

Meet Our Scholars

Washington College of Law (WCL) created the Public Interest/Public Service Scholars (PIPS) Program in 2001 to provide financial and programmatic support to students with a clearly demonstrated commitment to public service, strong academic credentials, and an express desire to pursue a public interest or public service career upon graduation. Working closely with the Assistant Director of the Office of Public Interest, PIPS Scholars receive individualized academic and career counseling, faculty and other public interest mentoring, as well as additional support to ensure their experience at WCL equips them to pursue rewarding and meaningful careers in non-profit organizations, the government, or private public interest law firms.

WCL is proud to provide these three-year, full-tuition scholarships as part of its commitment to human dignity, community empowerment and global justice by investing in the next wave of public interest leadership. The scholarships are provided to allow scholars to concentrate on public interest commitments while in law school and to have a stronger financial position from which to engage in public interest careers upon graduation.

Benefits & Responsibilities of Scholars

  • Monthly Meetings
    Scholars meet formally as a group on a monthly basis with the Assistant Director of the Office of Public Interest. In addition, scholars also meet informally to engage in social activities.

  • Networking
    Participants will also have many opportunities to develop relationships with other PIPS Scholars while at WCL, ultimately graduating into a global network of other like-minded lawyers whom they can call upon throughout their professional careers.

  • Mentoring
    Each scholar is assigned a faculty mentor and an upper-class PIPS Scholar mentor.

  • Leadership
    Each scholar commits to giving back to the WCL community, organizing programs and public service events that help inspire their law student colleagues to participate in pro bono activities.

  • Public Interest Roundtables
    First year PIPS Scholars attend "Public Interest Roundtables" focusing on issues of public interest law as they relate to the first year curriculum or to the practice of law. The roundtables are organized by the second- and third-year PIPS Scholars and may involve discussion of professional or scholarly works in progress by faculty or student authors, as well as the work of local public interest practitioners.

  • Public Service Day
    In order to enhance the awareness and interest of the entire WCL community towards public service, during the spring semester and through the summer following the first year, PIPS Scholars will plan and organize a public service day for the next incoming first-year class, to precede WCL's formal orientation program.

  • Pro Bono
    Scholars participate in WCL's Pro Bono Honors Pledge Program, which requires that 75 hours of pro bono and/or public interest work be completed by graduation.

  • Service
    Second- and third-year PIPS Scholars work with the Assistant Director of the Office of Public Interest to select two public service experiences that include representation and/or advocacy on behalf of underrepresented, low-income, or otherwise disadvantaged individuals and/or communities.

  • Writing
    Scholars are required to produce a piece of written scholarship on a public interest issue, which may satisfy the upper level writing requirement if it meets the formal requisites.

  • Post-Graduate Public Service Work
    Scholars also agree to spend three of their first five years out of law school in full-time public interest or public service employment.

Academic Standards

Scholars are expected to graduate with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. A PIPS Scholar's graduating with less than a 3.0 will not result in a scholar being required to re pay her/his award. However, egregious disregard for this expectation may result in loss of the scholarship.

Scholars will be expected to maintain matriculation at the Washington College of Law until graduation. Absent compelling circumstances, a scholar who chooses to withdraw or transfer from the law school will have the scholarship converted to a loan and be subject to repayment to the law school. As a condition of receiving the scholarship, incoming PIPS Scholars will be asked to sign a form indicating their understanding and acceptance of the foregoing terms and conditions of the award.

Application & Selection Process

The application deadline for the PIPS Scholarship Program has been extended until January 31, 2014 at 11:59PM EST.

NOTE: This deadline is before the deadline for general admission. Both the scholarship application and the full general admissions application must be submitted electronically by the January 31, 2014 deadline in order to be considered for the scholarship.

Applications are first reviewed by the general Admissions Committee. If an applicant is accepted into the full-time JD program, the application will then be forwarded to the PIPS Scholarship Selection Committee.

The PIPS Scholarship Selection Committee is made up of the Assistant Director of the Office of Public Interest, faculty and staff members, and one or more third-year PIPS Scholars. The Committee looks for academically strong applicants whose backgrounds demonstrate a substantial commitment to public service and who have experience, characteristics, and credentials to become effective public interest and public service lawyers.

Although applications are reviewed on a rolling basis after the January 31 deadline, scholarship offers may not be finalized until early to mid-April.

Financial Aid Information

Scholarship recipients may apply for other restricted scholarships as well as federal and private loans to cover cost of living while in law school. Recipients are not eligible for need based grants offered by the law school.

Viewing Your Application Attachments

Once you submit your application, your attachments can be viewed by downloading the application and clicking on the attachments tab on the left hand side of the PDF.  Make sure you have the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

For more information contact:

David Steib, Esq.
Assistant Director
Office of Public Interest
Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Suite 122
Washington, DC 20016
Tel: 202-274-4099
Email: dsteib@wcl.american.edu