The Center for Public Interest Law accepts second- and third-year law students for initial participation in its internship program. Interns take a yearlong class entitled Public Interest Law and Practice. In the class, students learn the substantive law governing the operation and decision making of state regulatory agencies. They study the "sunshine statutes" which require most agency decision to be made in public, and constitutional and other limitations on the regulatory authority of administrative agencies. Under the guidance of supervising attorneys, CPIL interns also personally monitor the activities of an assigned agency: They attend agency meetings throughout the state, observe and participate in agency rulemaking proceedings, and track litigation and legislation affecting their assigned agency. Twice per year, interns draft reports on their agency's actions, which are published in the California Regulatory Law Reporter.
Following a year of agency monitoring, students may enroll in Public Interest Law Clinic, and engage in advanced advocacy projects involving active participation in rulemaking, litigation, legislation, and/or writing. Past CPIL intern advocacy projects have included:
- the drafting of legislation that gave the state of California's two open meetings statutes a civil remedy;
- the publication in the California Regulatory Law Reporter of agency critiques that led to reform legislation and, in several cases, to the abolition of unnecessary or ineffective state agencies;
- and the drafting of amicus curiae briefs in appellate litigation on public interest and regulatory issues.
Additionally, CPIL interns are offered the opportunity to take other courses related to the Center's focus, such as Antitrust Law, Administrative Law, Energy Law and Policy, and State and Local Government Law.
Since its inception, CPIL has served both as a widely-valued resource on regulatory issues and as a highly practical training ground in public interest and regulatory law. CPIL interns are given a unique opportunity to participate firsthand in public policymaking on the statewide level, and to work with experienced public interest advocates in a variety of settings.