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Public Interest Law Certificate

The Certificate in Public Interest Law offers students significant educational exposure to the field of public interest law through rigorous coursework focusing on the legal structures and operations of national, state and local governments, as well as an examination of social issues affecting those who are disenfranchised and lack access to justice. The coursework provides students valuable firsthand experiences working with a number of our public service legal clinics in areas such as Health Advocacy, Criminal Defense, Civil Justice and Foreclosure Mediation.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate a foundational understanding of civil law, including substantive and procedural knowledge in areas critical to navigating the American administrative, statutory and judicial systems.      
  • Students will gain first-hand knowledge of the legal opportunities available to, and the practical challenges faced by, persons lacking access to justice.  
  • Students will demonstrate a basic understanding of, and competent skills relating to, trial, administrative and transactional practice, including written and oral advocacy in both adversarial and mediatory settings.
  • Students will learn the basics of local, state and federal government structures and how those structures impact the distribution of costs and benefits in civil society.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the principal policy debates in areas critical to the social and economic advancement of marginalized groups, including health care, education, immigration, housing and the workplace. 

Requirements - Section 1.

An applicant for an NIU-COL Certificate in Public Interest Law must earn a minimum of eighteen academic credits in the courses described by sections 1.a, 1.b, and 1.c below, and must comply with all of the specified requirements of sections 1.a, 1.b, 1.c, and 1.d below.

a. Required Basic Courses. An applicant must complete the following basic courses:

i. Administrative Law.

ii. One of the following:

A. Trial Advocacy.

B. Alternative Dispute Resolution.

C. Negotiation.

D. Mediation Theory and Practice.

b. Required Capstone Courses. An applicant must complete at least one of the following capstone courses:

i. Civil Justice Clinic.

ii. NIU College of Law Health Advocacy Clinic.

iii. Foreclosure Mediation Clinic.

iv. Juvenile Justice Clinic.

v. Appellate Defender Program.

vi. Illinois Innocence Project Externship.

vii. Migrant Farmworker Externship.

viii. Another externship or clinic primarily focused on public interest law, as approved in advance for certificate eligibility by the supervising faculty member.

c. Elective Courses. An applicant must complete at least one of the following elective courses, and must earn sufficient additional credits from the following elective courses to meet the eighteen-credit minimum described above:

i. Children in the Legal System.

ii. Civil Rights.

iii. Consumer Law.

iv. Education Law.

v. Employment Law.

vi. Environmental Law.

vii. Gender and the Law.

viii. Health Law.

ix. Immigration Law.

x. International Human Rights.

xi. Labor Law.

xii. Landlord and Tenant Law.

xiii. Legislation.

xiv. Poverty Law.

xv. Public International Law.

xvi. Public Sector Labor Law.

xvii. State and Local Government.

xviii. Any of the courses listed in section 1.a.ii., if not counted toward the Required Basic Courses requirement for section 1.a.

xix. A seminar or directed research project, if primarily focused on a public-interest related topic and approved in advance for certificate eligibility by the supervising faculty member.

d. Required Additional Skills Development Activities. An applicant must meet the qualifications for College of Law Approved Pro Bono Service Recognition.

Section 2.

An applicant for an NIU-COL Certificate in Public Interest Law must also meet the GPA and other requirements set forth in the College of Law Guidelines for Certificate Programs.

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