PILF grants exist to encourage student to pursue public interest and public service positions. EVERY ELIGIBLE STUDENT WILL RECEIVE A GRANT. The value of all PILF grants is a function of the amount of money that is raised throughout the year and the number of people that seek and qualify for grants. The more money PILF raises, the more money each qualifying applicant receives.


In order to be awarded a grant, an applicant must: (1) attend Duke Law, (2) work in an eligible position, and (3) have previously volunteered at least 20 hours throughout the academic year for PILF.  Each of these qualifications must be met to be eligible for a grant.  Thus, only people who volunteered at least 20 hours with us AND work for a qualifying employer will receive PILF money.

What is a Qualifying Position?

Almost every job in public interest or government/public service qualifies.  There are so many eligible jobs, that it is impossible to name them all.  It is not difficult however to name jobs that do not qualify.  PILF DOES NOT PROVIDE GRANTS TO STUDENTS WHO WORK AT (1) FOR-PROFIT ENTITIES, (2) JUDICIAL CLERKSHIPS, or (3) NON-LEGAL JOBS.

Summer Fellowship – No Outside Funding & Qualifying Position

Summer Fellowships tend to range in value from approximately $1500 to $3500, depending on the success of the fundraising efforts. They are provided only to non-graduating students who have unpaid summer internships in either domestic or international government agencies (federal, state and local), intergovernmental organizations, or non-profit organizations.

Thank You Grant – Outside Funding & Qualifying Position

Summer fellowship applicants are encouraged to seek funding from additional sources. Those applicants who receive additional grants will receive a “Thank You” grant in an amount less than a Summer Fellowship (but still substantial given the hour requirement) so as to allocate more funds to other applicants who are not eligible for extra funding.

Bar Grants

The Bar Grant helps offset the cost of the bar exam for graduating law students who are immediately going to work in qualifying public interest or government jobs. This grant is the same amount as a Summer Fellowship grant. To qualify for the Bar Grant, graduating students must pledge to work in full-time law or law-related public interest or government work that pays less than $60,000 per year. Eligible employment for Bar Grants mirrors both Tier 1 and Tier 2 Eligible Employment under Duke Law’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP).


  • Any activity, solicited by PILF’s volunteer coordinator, which assists PILF with its fundraising operations, may be counted towards PILF’s hours requirement.
  • Hours spent on other public interest activities, such as clinics, pro bono, or community service MAY NOT be counted towards the PILF hours requirement. Any questions about PILF hours should be directed to the Co-Presidents.
  • PILF Hours are tracked online at a publicly viewable Google-doc. It is your responsibility to verify the accuracy of the hours listed on the document by keeping track of your own hours and informing the Volunteer Coordinator of discrepancies. It is also the applicant’s responsibility to get the coordinator in charge of their activities to “verify” the hours on the document.
  • Applicants who have not completed the hours requirement by the March 19 application date must make arrangements to complete 20 PILF hours by May 15 and must attach a letter to the Grant Committee that specifies the tasks they will perform to fulfill the requirement.
  • Any arrangements made under these guidelines will be subject to the approval of the PILF Board and may be rejected if they are determined to be unreasonable or unfeasible. It is strongly recommended that such an applicant coordinate with the PILF Board in advance to ensure that enough hours are attainable by the May 15 deadline.
  • Any misrepresentation of PILF hours is a violation of the Duke Law School Honor Code and will be referred to the Office of Student Affairs.
  • If an applicant personally donated an item to the PILF Auction, the time that the applicant invests in making or performing the service promised in the auction item (e.g., babysitting, baking, etc.) will not count towards the PILF hours requirement.


The Grant Committee is made up of some of the PILF Board members who are not currently applying for a PILF Fellowship. Each year, the Grant Committee determines whether each applicant meets the requirements for a PILF grant. The size of grants does not vary depending on location (i.e., those working in New York do not get larger grants than those working in Durham). Grants for internships shorter than 10 weeks or less than 40 hours per week will probably be prorated. In the event that the number of qualifying applicants exceeds the available funding, the Grant Committee will reduce the size of fellowships in order to secure some funding for every qualifying applicant.

If selected for a PILF Fellowship, you must fill out the requisite payroll forms in Room 1015 of the law school. Payroll papers must be properly filled out by a date the date required in order to ensure payment for the fellowship. Late paperwork will result in later payment of the fellowship funds. Individual applicants are responsible for whatever tax consequences come of securing a PILF Fellowship for this year.

Grant recipients that ultimately choose to not work in qualifying public interest or government jobs must return all grant money to PILF. For more information about any of the grants or about their requirements, please contact one of PILF’s Co-Presidents.


PILF strongly encourages all applicants to earn and apply for outside funding. Additional funding from non-legal employment does not reduce the amount of a PILF Grant. Any money you get waiting tables or selling your body to science is yours to keep.

Funding from legal employment (including small stipends from an employer, fellowship funding for legal work, or a split-summer with a legal employer) may reduce the amount of your PILF Fellowship.

There is, however, a limit on the amount of outside legal employment funding you can receive in order to remain eligible for a PILF Summer Fellowship. This cap is dependent upon our fundraising and grant size each year, and unfortunately we have no way of knowing in advance what it will be.

All such additional funding that is received after filing the PILF Fellowship application or disbursement of grants must be reported to PILF, and a subsequent reimbursement must be made consistent with the funding guidelines established by the Grant Committee.


Recipients of a PILF grant in their first and/or second summer, pledge to provide future support to PILF in the event that they work in a high-paying job, typically at a law firm, in their second and/or third summer.  Their support of a single day’s salary ensures that future PILF members receive the same benefits as donating past recipients. While PILF would love a donation of a day’s salary from recipients of Thank You Grants, those recipients are only expected to donate the amount of their award if their day’s pay exceeds the amount of their Thank You grant. Please email Chris Girouard or Rebecca Ryan for more information

*These guidelines are subject to change without notice.

(updated August 30, 2013)