Rubin-Presser Public Interest Scholars Program

As a recent visitor to Temple Law School remarked, you can feel that Temple is a public interest school the minute you walk in the door. This is no surprise, as community and public service is the foundation upon which Temple University was built. The Temple University Beasley School of Law is proud to continue this tradition by providing an atmosphere where public interest law is promoted, celebrated and created. This tradition is evidenced by the fact that Temple Law alumni hold many positions throughout the public interest community in Philadelphia.

Temple stands for the ideal that all lawyers share the responsibility of equal access to justice and seeks to instill that sense of responsibility in each of our students. We strive to build a community of persons committed to public interest law and pro bono service. Each year we select three incoming students to help us lead this community.

Thanks to a generous gift from Leonard Rubin '49, a graduate of the Law School, Temple launched the Public Interest Scholars Program in 2000 for outstanding students who demonstrate commitment to public interest work, exhibit leadership potential, and intend to pursue a career in public interest law. In 2006, the program was renamed in honor of Stefan Presser, one of the creators of the program and a respected member of Temple's adjunct faculty.

Scholarship Selection Process

The Rubin-Presser Public Interest Scholars Program is highly selective and seeks law students of exceptional ability. Only entering first-year day and evening students may apply. Those selected will receive a scholarship in the amount of full tuition for the first year and half tuition for the second and third years. Scholarships for evening students are handled in an equivalent manner.

One of the scholarship's many goals is to help offset the cost of obtaining a law degree for future public interest lawyers. It is expected that Scholars will hold a public interest job for the first three years after graduation. Scholars who enter a career other than public interest during the first three years out of law school incur a moral obligation to repay all or a portion of the scholarship in accordance with the Program guidelines. This repayment will take the form of a donation to the Scholarship Fund so that the Program can continue for other students interested in pursuing public interest law.

A committee will review all applications and name the Rubin-Presser Public Interest Scholars. An interview may be requested by the committee.

The Program

First year

Scholars are matched with a faculty mentor who has expertise in an area of public interest practice. Every effort will be made to match a student with a mentor who has expertise in the student's area of interest. The Temple faculty is an outstanding group of teacher-scholars committed to serving their students and the public interest. Their areas of interest in scholarship and in practice include AIDS, environmental law, gun control, international human rights, consumer protection, education law, civil poverty law, employment discrimination, alternative dispute resolution, domestic violence, and death penalty litigation.

Scholars meet regularly as a group with the Director of Public Interest Programs.

Scholars are assisted in their efforts to secure a summer internship in a public interest setting. Scholars must complete at least one summer internship in the public interest.

Second year

Scholars take a public interest course that focuses on the definition of public interest law and the theoretical, ethical and lawyering challenges of a public interest law practice. As part of the course's requirements, Scholars will produce a substantial research paper on a topic related to public interest law.

Scholars meet regularly as a group with the Director of Public Interest Programs.

Scholars who did not work in the public interest during their first summer are assisted in securing a summer internship in the public interest.

Third year

Scholars are encouraged to work directly with low income clients through the law school's clinical program in areas such as homelessness, immigration, criminal defense, health care, prosecution, housing, and elder law.

Each graduating class of Public Interest Scholars works together to develop a culminating project that will benefit and strengthen the entire public interest community at Temple. The first class of Scholars developed a pro bono recognition policy that encourages and celebrates pro bono service. In 2004, Scholars organized a poll watching initiative that helped secure the authenticity of the vote in Philadelphia. Another lasting project created by Public Interest Scholars is our annual SPIN Forum, a symposium dedicated to legal and policy issues important to the Philadelphia community.

More Information

More information on the scholarship and the application process is available on the Admitted Student website.

For information about the application process please contact: Johanne Johnston, Assistant Dean for Admissions & Financial Aid, at johanne.johnston@temple.edu or 215-204-3659.

For information on the Scholars Program and public interest activities at the law school, please contact Lisa Hurlbutt, Director of Public Interest Programs, at lisa.hurlbutt@temple.edu or 215-204-3705.