Training the Next Generation of Public Interest Advocates and Leaders

With the ascendance of privatization, increasing global economic pressures, the rapid development of new technologies, and the growth of nongovernmental organizations, the context within which lawyers advocate for the disadvantaged and underrepresented began to change dramatically in the 1990s.  In response to these developments and the corresponding need for better trained public interest lawyers, in 1996, UCLA School of Law founded its path-breaking Program in Public Interest Law and Policy (now known as the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy).  The Program has since come to stand as one of the most innovative and successful law school public interest programs in the country.

The Program is characterized by:

  • A highly selective admissions process;
  • A pioneering and rigorous curriculum;
  • A strong and supportive community of faculty, administrators, students and alumni; and
  • A rich and robust engagement with issues of critical local, national and international import.
The Program admissions process seeks to admit students based on their demonstrated commitment to and competence in public interest work, as well as their academic achievement.

The Program curriculum offers an innovative and rigorous approach to legal education that enables students to refine their own career goals while educating and training them to engage in sophisticated representation of traditionally underserved individuals, communities and interests.   

For many Program students and alumni, the Program community has been the singularly most important aspect of their participation in the Program.  The Program faculty represent a broad cross-section of interests in social justice issues and bring to the Program an unparalleled depth and breadth of knowledge from a wide range of experiences and scholarly research perspectives.  Program administrators – experienced advocates – untiringly counsel, guide and support students and alumni as they pursue their career goals.  Program alumni – who remain deeply connected to the Program – are making their mark in diverse settings.  They are innovative thinkers, fierce advocates, exceptional leaders and founders of pioneering organizations.  The Program students arrive at the School with diverse histories and distinctive career goals, varying in age, experience, political viewpoint, and educational and social background.  Yet, they share in common a profound commitment to advancing justice.

The Program – through its speaker series and other colloquia and symposia, interdisciplinary collaborations and active engagement in the community – offers students an array of opportunities to learn about, grapple with, and work on some of the most pressing challenges facing our society.  

From its inception, UCLA School of Law has been true to the special traditions that set an outstanding public law school apart.  The Program has built on these traditions while successfully educating and training the next generation of public interest advocates and leaders.

Program Contact:

H. Catherine Mayorkas
Executive Director
Public Interest Programs