David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy


The David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy is one of the nation’s most innovative and successful law school public interest programs. Since its inception, the Program has set a high standard for training the next generation of public interest advocates and leaders.

At UCLA Law, students will find a dynamic environment that brings together faculty, administrators, students and alumni to explore critical issues on a local and global scale. 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. Program faculty has an unparalleled depth and breadth of knowledge and experience representing a wide cross-section of topics in social justice. They work with Program administrators to counsel, guide and support students and alumni as they pursue impactful public interest careers.

Through its speaker series and other colloquia and symposia, interdisciplinary collaborations and active engagement in the community, the Program helps advance sustainable solutions to some of our society’s most pressing challenges.

Public Interest Law and Policy Specialization

The Program Specialization strives to provide an innovative Epstein About - Specialization 02 and intellectually ambitious curriculum that trains students to engage in sophisticated representation of traditionally underrepresented individuals, communities and interests while utilizing a range of problem-solving tools.  Thus, Program students are required to satisfy the general requirements for a J.D. degree while also satisfying the Program’s specific curricular requirements.

The Program curriculum is intended both to address fundamental questions about public interest lawyering that affect all areas of practice and to allow students to pursue a curricular path tailored to their individual interests and career goals.  The Program curricular requirements include a first-year seminar, a special section of the first-year Lawyering Skills course, a second-year “problem solving” seminar, an additional four advanced courses from a designated menu of courses, and a writing requirement.

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Program students also have ample opportunity to select from the general School of Law curriculum courses that relate to their public interest orientation and goals, as well as to enroll in other academic specializations and pursue joint degrees.

Sustaining Public Interest Careers

In light of the Program’s broad definition of “public interest,” it always has been understood that students admitted to the Program would evidence significant diversity in their respective career goals, as well as in their interests.  Thus, as envisioned by the faculty who founded the Program, some students would go on to careers in more traditional kinds of public interest work – pursuing civil rights litigation, providing legal services for the poor, or engaging in transactional work with nonprofit organizations to develop housing or employment resources.  Others would possibly work exclusively in the realm of politics and policy-making, both inside and outside government.  Still others would start up community-based law practices serving the needs of specific communities.  While others would focus more on educating and organizing vulnerable communities rather than engaging in more traditional legal work.  And still others would pursue a career in academia or be appointed to the judiciary.

And so, indeed, the Program alumni – now numbering over 450 and constituting sixteen Program classes – are making their mark in diverse settings – in the nonprofit, government and private sectors, the judiciary and academia – across the country and abroad.  Engaged in addressing a broad array of social justice issues both domestically and abroad, our alumni are innovative thinkers, fierce advocates, recipients of prestigious national fellowships, exceptional leaders and founders of pioneering organizations, working to reduce poverty and injustice and to promote democratic values.  And, they remain dedicated to and engaged with the Program.

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