Albany Law expands public service offerings

Many of today's law school students are focusing on how they can give back to society. They want to make a difference in people's lives. And law schools are responding by adding more public interest offerings.

Albany Law School is the latest to do so. 

The upstate New York-based school recently introduced a restructured and expanded Government Law Center Fellowship program to further support and prepare law students for careers in public service. Through the fellowship, students gain practical experiences and formal preparation for careers in government and government-related practice.

The restructured Fellowship offers different stages in each of the three years of law school. First-year fellows are given extracurricular opportunities to explore whether public service is right for them. Second-year fellows take specific courses that will help prepare them for public service. And third-year fellows undertake an experiential capstone project, either at the Government Law Center or at an external placement, that helps prepare them directly for practice.

Given trends, there may be more than a few takers. One recent survey, called Before the "J.D.: Undergraduate Views on Law School," showed how law school students are evolving. Nearly half - 44 percent - said they were inclined to go to law school because they saw it as pathway to a career in politics, government or public service. Earnings finished fifth when it came to the reason to choosing law school. 

Schools have noticed. Columbia Law School in New York is investing $4.5 million over the next three years to beef up its public interest program. Like Albany, it's offering Public Interest/Public Service fellowships as part of its upgrade. 

The University of Akron School of Law in Ohio announced new intiatives to its program too. It's starting a Social Justice Fellows program, for instance. 

Albany Law's effort will make public service grads ready to roll. Andy Ayers, the director of the Government Law Center at Albany, said, “Anyone who graduates as a Government Law Center Fellow will be uniquely well-prepared for public service. Albany Law School has a special connection to government, and the Government Law Center is proud to help advance that connection by ensuring that future generations of attorneys in public service are thoroughly prepared to serve our communities.”

The Government Law Center Fellowship program was established to provide professional development and career guidance to the next generation of public-service attorneys. More than 75 Albany Law School students interested in public-service professions have participated in the program since it was established in 2015.

All current students and prospective students starting in the fall of 2019 will be eligible to apply to the program. A “Guide to the Government Law Center Fellows Program” and the Government Law Center Fellowship application are available on the Government Law Center website. Interested current and prospective students are encouraged to contact: Jordyn Conway, Administrative Director for the Government Law Center,, 518-445-3207.

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