There are a variety of public interest fellowships available to law students who are interested in pursuing public interest law at graduation. Typically, fellowships are one- to two-year opportunities designed to give recent law graduates experience in public interest practice.

Public interest fellowships are attractive for a number of reasons, including that they allow graduates to creatively pursue their passions and interests, while providing the training necessary to pursue permanent public interest or teaching positions and that they provide networking opportunities for developing strong professional contacts in the field. In addition, some fellowships serve as a point of entry for permanent employment. Some fellowships also provide loan repayment assistance.

Many post-graduate public interest fellowships require advance preparation, so students must begin thinking about fellowships early in their law school career. The Career Services Office has extensive information about the hundreds of fellowship opportunities available to students. Below are descriptions of the most popular and well-known fellowship programs. Please be advised, however, that this list is not exhaustive. You should check psjd.org for a more complete list of public interest post-graduate fellowships.

For more information on how to prepare and apply for these opportunities, check out PSJD.org's Postgraduate Fellowship Resource Center.

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Project-Based and Entrepreneurial Fellowships

Project-based fellowships allow fellows to develop projects to serve unmet legal needs in a particular area of interest. Typically, applicants propose their own projects, often in conjunction with an existing organization. In some cases, applicants may apply for support to start a new organization. These fellowships are funded by a third-party organization, allowing the fellow to work -- usually on a specific project -- with a host organization. In the public interest legal world, Equal Justice Works and the Skadden Fellowship Foundation are the largest funders of project-based fellowships, and are among the most sought after fellowships as well.

PSJD.org makes the following recommendations regarding project-based fellowship applications:

The most important step you can take to prepare an application for a project-based fellowship is to consult with Megan Heneke in the Career Services Office and, if possible, alumni of the fellowship programs you are interested in. Fellowship applications are as much science as they are art. As compelling as your project idea may be, it will compete with dozens or hundreds of other compelling ideas. Well-organized applications -- focused on providing the information requested -- go a long way. You should consult with individuals who have prepared and reviewed applications in the past. This outreach will pay enormous dividends in producing the strongest applications possible.

Second, ideally you will have built a strong, trusting relationship with your would-be host organization by the time you apply for fellowship funding. This does not have to be the case, but your fellowship application is stronger when you can show that you have worked closely with your host organization. If you are looking to connect with a host organization, search PSJD.org for opportunities by entering "Fellowship - Legal: Project-Based" in the Job Type field. This will connect you to organizations interested in hosting fellows.

Examples:

Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Skadden Fellowship Foundation

Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship

Echoing Green Fellowship

Organizational Fellowships

Organizational fellowships are positions within existing organizations, usually for a defined period of one to two years. Applicants do not need to develop their own projects, but instead work on special projects designated by the organization. To find a broad list of organizational fellowships, visit PSJD.org's job search tool and search for Job Type "Fellowships - Legal: Organizational." The following is a very limited list of examples:

Greenlining Institute Fellowship

American Civil Liberties Union Legal Fellowships

Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program

Juvenile Law Center Zubrow Fellowship

Education and Teaching Fellowships

Teaching fellowships are designed to offer graduates the ability to learn how to teach law in a clinical setting, or work on legal research projects. Examples:

Georgetown Clinical Graduate Teaching Fellowships

The following fellowships are usually available:

For more information about each fellowship, click the associated links below.

Distinguished Environmental Scholar Fellowship -- Lewis and Clark Law School

Government Fellowships

Government entities host fellows as well, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the EEOC, and the Department of Housing, to name a few. These are typically called "Honors Programs," and are available for students immediately after graduation or a judicial clerkship. EXAMPLES:

U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General's Honors Program

The Honors Program is the Department's entry-level recruitment program and is the only way the Department hires graduating law students. Students apply in their third year for an entry-level position following graduation. Organizations that typically participate in the Honors Program are: the Antitrust, Civil, Civil Rights, Criminal, Environment and Natural Resources, and Tax Divisions; the Federal Bureau of Prisons; the Executive Office for Immigration Review; the U.S. Trustees' Office; and select U.S. Attorney's Offices.

Presidential Management Fellows Program

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF) is a competitive program that recruits law graduates and those from other disciplines to work in executive branch agencies. Attorney positions for PMFs are extremely rare, and students should not apply to the PMF Program if their goal is to be placed in an attorney position. Most often, law students selected as finalists for the PMF obtain appointments in positions such as policy analyst, budget analyst, tax law specialist, or other non-attorney positions.

Firm-Sponsored Fellowships

Firm-sponsored fellowships are defined positions within a law firm or a split-time position, whereby a fellow spends a portion of his/her time working at the sponsoring firm and a portion working at a designated non-profit agency. Examples:

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson Fellowship

Relman & Dane Civil Rights Fellowship

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