New UMN Law School Public Interest Residency Program Expands Career Opportunities

Walter F. Mondale Hall

The University of Minnesota Law School announced today the launch of an innovative program to provide students committed to serving the public with valuable legal experience and to provide them with guaranteed legal employment post-graduation, while providing leading public interest and government organizations with much-needed legal assistance.
The Minnesota Law Public Interest Residency Program, established by a gift from Allen (’56) and Linda Saeks, will connect leading public interest and government organizations with high-achieving law students, committed to long-term careers in serving the public interest. Students selected for the program work as an extern full-time (32-hours per week) during their third year of law school for a nonprofit or government agency for which they receive law school credit toward their graduation. Upon graduation, the law student is guaranteed a full-time, paid legal position with the same organization the year following graduation.
“This innovative program has the potential to transform legal education while expanding legal opportunities for students,” says program director Mark Kappelhoff. “It’s a trifecta win: students get excellent legal training from premier local organizations and agencies; the organizations get top-tier law students to help meet their legal needs; and the University of Minnesota Law School spearheads a groundbreaking legal education program.”
The MN Law Residency partner organizations for 2016–18 are: Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office, Office of the Public Defender, Second District (Ramsey County), Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, and Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office.
"This program results in a law degree and provides an opportunity to intern in the public interest world, a guaranteed job and a means to pay off student debt," said Allen Saeks, a longtime partner at Stinson Leonard Street. “It's a program very much deserving of our support."
In endorsing the new program, Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said, “This is a win-win-win: increasing interest in public sector legal work, offering great job opportunities and training for law students and providing us with much needed additional help.” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman (’74) agreed: “It will be great to be able to put another student into the courtroom during her or his last year in law school.”
St. Paul leaders are equally enthusiastic about the new program. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said, “We are proud to partner on such an innovative program that will provide our office with critical legal services from students interested in serving the public, while they obtain hands-on learning experience and understanding of the workings of a public law office.” Patrick Kittridge, Chief Defender with the Office of the Public Defender, Second District of Ramsey County reinforced that the program will “assist us in defending the rights of the indigent in Ramsey County and give our student Resident meaningful, hands-on experience in an office committed to nurturing and developing criminal defense attorneys.”

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