The Ms. JD Public Interest Scholarship program provides a stipend to students as they pursue careers in public interest law. Ms. JD is thrilled to continue our support of women pursuing public interest careers and soften the burden faced by those who accept public interest internships, which are often unpaid.

The definition of public interest law is broad and includes both domestic and international work; direct service, impact litigation, and policy work; and government and non-profit work. Former public interest scholarship award recipients have pursued internships in immigration law, women’s rights, public health, public defense, government at all levels, and criminal justice reform.

Applications for the 2023 Public Interest Scholarship are now closed. To be notified when the 2024 Public Interest Scholarship opens, please join the waitlist.

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Our 2023 Public Interest Scholarship Recipients

Please join us in congratulating the incredible law students who received a 2023 Public Interest Scholarship. Scroll down to learn more about their stories and the impactful public interest work they are doing.

free Pierre

UCLA School of Law

free is a proud native of Newark, NJ, a spoken word artist, student of abolition, and most importantly a poet at heart.

free is passionate about social change and uses spoken word poetry as a tool of empowerment. They’re interested in using community organizing work in order to dream for a collective, liberated future. Their activist efforts have led them to Los Angeles, where they are a student at UCLA School of Law as an Achievement Fellow.  

At UCLA Law, free has been using their time to get involved in organizing alongside systems impacted and formerly incarcerated students to address barriers to getting into law school.  free also enjoys finding community in organizing spaces in LA, where they are able to support police abolition efforts and housing access. free has been developing more legal skills this summer at ACLU SoCal’s LA Jails Project.  

When they’re not organizing or performing, free enjoys going to game nights & losing at trivia.

Fatema Jaffer

Harvard Law School

Currently a rising third-year student at Harvard Law School, Fatema focuses on how laws and policies influence access to equitable education. As the daughter of East African immigrants, Fatema grew up learning education to be the foundation of progress. However, her interest in this area arose when she learned and experienced the educational barriers of the United States and East Africa while pursuing a distance running career at Florida State University.

Shifting her focus from distance running to education, Fatema began combatting these educational barriers by teaching mathematics in Iten, Kenya, and her hometown, Orlando, Florida. As an educator, Fatema conducted fundraisers to provide scholarships to her students and organized her local Orlando community to advocate for legislation that positively influenced her students and their families.

While continuing to pursue the goal of eradicating educational barriers, Fatema plans to use her Juris Doctorate to push movements for equitable education forward, both in the United States and East Africa.

Kristin Hommel

Penn State Law

My name is Kristin Hommel, and I am a rising 2L at Penn State Law. I was born and raised in Raleigh, NC, and before law school, I worked as an immigration paralegal for three years, which ignited my passion for immigration law and inspired me to go to law school to pursue a career in immigration law.

In my first year, I founded the Immigration Law Society at Penn State Law and worked to organize events and trainings that taught students about this important field of law. This summer, I have been interning for The Immigration Project, a nonprofit based in Normal, IL that provides low-income immigrants with immigration legal services. My work at the organization has primarily centered around humanitarian visa cases, including U-visas and VAWA, which provides immigrant survivors of domestic violence and victims of crimes with pathways towards legal status. These visas are particularly important for abused immigrant spouses of US citizens, since often their immigration status is held over their heads to keep them from leaving or reporting the abuse. I have found the work incredibly fulfilling, and I look forward to a career that centers around protecting this vulnerable population!

Kamilah Mims

UCLA School of Law

Kamilah Mims is a rising fourth-year dual-degree law and public policy student at the University of
California, Los Angeles. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California,
Berkeley in 2018. At the UCLA School of Law, Kamilah is a member of the Epstein Program for Public Interest Law and Policy and the Critical Race Studies program. She also is the Chief Diversity Editor for the UCLA Law Review and is Co-Editor-In-Chief of the UCLA National Black Law Journal.

Last year, she served as an Academic Chair for the Black Law Students Association, supporting Black 1Ls in their transition to law school. In 2022 Kamilah was selected for the American Association of Law Schools Pro Bono Honor Roll for her outstanding participation in pro bono activities at UCLA, and in 2023 she was selected for the Equal Justice Works Regional Public Interest Award for her deep commitment to public interest law. Outside of her studies, Kamilah has contributed to the drafting of legislation as a member of the Restorative Justice Legislation Work Group and is also Co-Chair of the Prison Accountability Project, which recently published a report on conditions in CDCR facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Kamilah is also an active member of Moot Court Honors, where she hones her oral advocacy and legal research skills through simulated appellate court competitions. Currently, Kamilah works at the Alameda County Public Defenders where she continues to refine her oral advocacy skills and support clients navigating the criminal legal system. Kamilah hopes to create systemic change that promotes human dignity and advances the liberation of oppressed communities through public defense and thoughtful, equity-driven public policy.

Abigail Leigh

Irvine School of Law

Abby Leigh, is a rising third-year law student at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. With a passion for social justice and human rights they have shaped their legal education and experiences around advocating for migrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and racial justice.

They actively participate in organizations like the UCI Law Review, International Justice Clinic, and OutLaw, where they hold leadership roles. Their legal experience includes internships at the immigration law firm Santos Lloyd Law, non-profit organizations such as the ACLU of Southern California and Haitian Bridge Alliance, and a research assistantship with Professor David Kaye. They have also engaged in extensive pro bono work, assisting the LGBTQ+ community and migrants on a variety of legal issues.

When Abby is not engaged in legal work, they enjoy traveling, indoor rock climbing, and exploring local coffee shops with their French Bulldog, Otis.

Michelle Wang

UC Law San Francisco

Michelle Wang is a rising 2L at UC Law San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings). She graduated from the University of California, Davis, with B.A. in Political Science and minors in Asian American Studies and Education. Michelle pursued graduate studies in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

Before law school, Michelle
volunteered at the Public Law Center, a nonprofit organization in Orange County, California, the county she grew up assisting staff attorneys and paralegals on family matters, advocating for
women’s issues, and working on dissolution, guardianship, adoption, and domestic violence matters.

This summer, Michelle is working as a judicial extern at the Orange County Superior
Court-Civil Panel for the Honorable Michael J. Strickroth. Michelle is passionate about legal
advocacy and serving many more clients. She strives to diversify the legal field and hopes to use what she has learned to become a mentor to support law school students.


  • The Scholarship is open to all law students who identify as women. Ms. JD recognizes women in all their diversities.
  • Applicants should be entering their second or third year at an ABA-accredited U.S. law school as of summer 2023.
  • Applicants should be planning to work at least 30 hours per week for a minimum of 4 weeks over the summer of 2023.
  • Eligible placements include positions with a government agency, nonprofit organization, or unpaid judicial externship.
  • Applicants do not need to have a confirmed placement at the time of application, but will be asked to submit an offer letter confirming their public interest placement by June 2023.
  • Applicant must be a member of the Ms. JD Online Community. Join here.


This scholarship program is designed to empower future law students, who are committed to public service and have accepted public interest internships, which are often unpaid.



What is the Ms. Public Interest Scholarship?

The Ms. JD Public Interest Scholarship program provides a stipend to students as they pursue careers in public interest law. Ms. JD is thrilled to continue our support of women pursuing public interest careers and soften the burden faced by those who accept public interest internships, which are often unpaid.

What are the expected requirements as a Public Interest Scholarship recipient?

Public Interest Scholarship recipients are expected to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete their summer placement by working at least 30 hours per week for a minimum of 4 weeks over the summer of 2023.
  • Please note, should a scholarship recipient not be able to meet this requirement, they have a moral obligation to repay the amount of the scholarship.
  • Participate in the Public Interest Scholar virtual presentation program to share public interest internship experience with the Ms. JD community.   

How are Scholarship recipients selected?

The process of selecting recipients is holistic. Scholarship recipients are selected based on academic performance, leadership, and dedication to advancing the status of women in public interest law.

What materials do I need to apply for the Public Interest Scholarship?

Before starting your application, please be sure to have the following files available to upload to your application: a copy of your resume, your unofficial law school transcript(s), and one letter of recommendation. 

I am not a second-year law school student ("2L" or rising 3L).  Can I still apply to the Scholarship?

First of all, thank you for your interest in the Ms. JD Public Interest Scholarship!  The Scholarship is only open to rising 2Ls and 3Ls.  If you are a 1L, we strongly encourage you to apply next year. 

Can you add some information to my application after I have submitted it?

No, we cannot alter or add information to your application form, manuscript, or statement of plans once we have received it (the only exception is if you or your recommender’s contact information changes). Please make sure your application is ready and complete before you submit it. Please do not contact us to let us know one of your manuscripts has been published or received an award; this information will not have any bearing on our decision.

How are applicants selected?

Applications are read thoroughly by a committee. The committee members then score applicants based on a rubric and then discuss the most promising applicants they consider the most suitable to receive the Ms. JD Public Interest Scholarship.