Texas Tech University

Summer Public Interest Award

2018 Summer Public Interest Award Recipients

The Public Interest Award supports summer fellowships for Texas Tech University Law School students interested in working in public interest law. Interested students apply in the spring semester for an award to do public interest legal work in the summer following their first or second year of law school.

Students in the first-year class raise the funds for the Public Interest Awards through the annual Public Interest Award Auction. Local attorneys, local businesses, law professors and staff, and law students donate items to be part of the live or silent auctions. This year's auction will be held on Thursday, March 21, 2019 in the Texas Tech Law School Forum.

I was able to explore the non-profit sector in a way I haven't been able to do in the past. Not only was I able to connect and work with attorneys at TAP, I was also able to attend meetings such as the Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team (SARRT), which consists of like-minded organizations who gather monthly to discuss current legal issues and policy initiatives in Austin. I was able to better understand and connect with a very inclusive and engaged community of public-interest attorneys and other civil servants making an impact on victims' lives all across Texas.

Hailey M. Hanners,
Candidate, Doctor of Jurisprudence, Class of 2020
2018 Public Interest Internship: Texas Advocacy Project

Being a recipient of a Public Interest Award is competitive. The Public Interest Award Committee selects the recipients in April. Applications are scored based on students' commitment to public interest, as demonstrated by a personal statement detailing how they've advanced the public interest in law school and beyond; financial need; and how greatly the type of internship they've acquired serves the public interest.

To apply:

Submit an application online. Application submission will open Friday, March 22, 2019. Application deadline: Friday, April 5, 2019.

One last thing that I found interesting is how quickly I got invested in the cases that I was doing work for. I was eager to know about the process of the cases, pleas offered if any, the prediction of the trajectory, and the status. I became so invested that I ended up extending my internship because one of the cases was about to go to trial right after what would have been my last day at the DA's office; instead, I continued until the trial was over.

Jay'Neisha Davis,
Candidate, Doctor of Jurisprudence, Class of 2021
2018 Public Interest Internships: Lubbock County District Attorney's Office
& Catholic Charities of Lubbock

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who can apply for a Public Interest Award?

Any current Texas Tech law student who will be a Texas Tech law student in the next academic year may apply. 3Ls graduating in May are not eligible, as they will no longer be a law student when the work will be performed. Students planning to transfer are not eligible for the award.

What qualifies as public interest work for the award?

Public interest law includes working for individuals, groups, and social interests that are traditionally underserved or have barriers to equal access to justice. Public interest law seeks to promote social justice through the empowerment of people and communities.

It encompasses both policy and direct representation legal work. It may include prosecutor or public defender offices, military judge advocates general, judicial clerkships, and governmental offices that directly serve individuals with challenges to access to justice.

The work must be primarily legal in nature and supervised by a licensed attorney. Fellowship applicants must articulate in their application materials how the proposed work is in the public interest.

Can I change internship locations after I have been award an award?

You must ask for approval of a change in internship locations. Contact Professor Alex Pearl if this occurs.

How many hours of public interest work must an awardee complete?

It varies. Students may split summers between a public interest position and another position, but the amount of time spent at the public interest position may influence the amount of funds granted to the awardee. Students must indicate in their applications if they are splitting their summer and, if they are, must indicate how much time will be spent at the public interest internship.

How much is a PILS award?

Amounts vary. Factors to be considered include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The student's previous commitment to public interest
  • How strongly the organization's mission serves the public interest
  • Length of the public interest internship
  • Financial need of the student
  • Cost of living in the location of the internship

Can I earn academic credit for my public interest internship?


After I've been granted a public interest award, are there any other requirements?

Students must complete a one-page essay reflecting on their experiences in the public interest internship, what they learned, and how/why it was a valuable experience.

Essays are due to Professor Alyson Drake at the start of the fall semester. The essays may be used to show donors the importance of their donations and to illustrate the importance of public interest work to future students. Excerpts of the essays may be used in print or electronic advertising.

What is the overall time frame to apply and perform the work if I am granted an award?

  • Friday, March 22: Online application opens.
  • Friday, April 5: Online applications due.
  • Mid-late April: Award winners are announced. Fellows are provided an award letter.
  • Mid-May: Awards are distributed.
  • May-August: Awardees complete their summer internships.
  • September 1st: Reflection essays are due.

How can I put together the strongest public interest award application possible?

  • Description of the work you intend to do. Demonstrate in your application that you have an understanding of the goals and parameters of the work you intend to perform. Make sure to state clearly how the work you will be doing fits within the definition of public interest law.
  • Personal statement and past involvement in public interest work. Demonstrate in your application your commitment to working for the public interest, looking back at past experiences during and before law school. Explain the personal connection that drives you to help underserved communities, share a compelling story from your involvement in pro bono work, or describe a public interest initiative you led as an undergraduate. If necessary, offer an explanation of the factors that have prevented you from pursuing public service activities in law school.

My time with the OGC was eye opening, and I was able to learn so much about the law. I highly recommend taking an internship in the public interest sector if given the opportunity, you will not be disappointed!

Cole Payne,
Candidate, Doctor of Jurisprudence, Class of 2020
2018 Public Interest Internship: United States Department of Agriculture
—Office of the General Counsel

Previous Award Recipients


  • Tashika Curlee: Federal Public Defenders Office for the Northern District of Texas
  • Jay'Neisha Davis: Lubbock County District Attorney's Office & Catholic Charity of Lubbock
  • Tracie Dionne: District Attorney's Office for the 33rd and 424th Judicial Districts
  • Hailey Hanners: Texas Advocacy Project
  • Scott Keffer: Texas Supreme Court & U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • Skyler Parks: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
  • Cole Payne: United States Department of Agriculture—Office of the General Counsel
  • Joseph Reynolds: United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas
  • Alana Rosen: 282nd District Court in Dallas County