Fellowship Opportunities in Law

Updated April 23, 2010.
Prepared by Mary Whisner, Reference Librarian & Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow, 1984-85
Updated by Julia Vinson, Law Library Intern (2009).

See also the Gallagher guides on Government Work and Grant Resources for Law Students.

Types of Fellowships

The structure varies:

Examples of Fellowship Programs for Lawyers

Equal Justice Works Fellowships

  • 2-year fellowships
  • fellow + project + host organization
  • Fellow gets salary, national leadership training, networking support, and loan repayment assistance
  • Applications become available in the summer and are due in mid-September. Semifinalists are selected and interviewed in the fall. Offers are extended between November and January and between January and March (organization matching fund program).
  • About 50 fellows per year
  • UW alumni who have had Equal Justice Works fellowships:
    • Casey Trupin, JD 1999 (project: street youth; host: Columbia Legal Services)
    • Ishbel Dickens, JD 2002 (project: mobile home parks; host: Columbia Legal Services)
    • Matthew Brinegar, JD 2004 (project: Medicaid; host: Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc., Orlando FL)
    • Mike Peters, JD 2009 (project immigrant youth in juvenile justice system; host: Northwest Immigrant Rights Project)
  • Profiles of current and past fellows are on the website. Reading them is an excellent way to get a sense of the sorts of projects funded.

Skadden Fellowship Foundation

  • 1-year fellowships, with expectation of one renewal
  • Fellow gets salary, benefits, loan repayment assistance
  • fellow + project + host organization
  • 24-28 fellows per year

Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale

  • 1-year grant for a start-up program with a host organization
  • Preference for Yale grads, but recent grant recipients have includes graduates of St. Mary’s (San Antonio), CUNY (Queens), Stanford, Michigan, Georgetown, SUNY-Buffalo, and UCLA.

Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program

  • 1-year fellowships, but one is a 2-year fellowship in the Georgetown’s Domestic Violence Clinic (and leads to an LL.M.).
  • Fellows are placed with public interest organizations in Washington, DC, participate in program events, and may audit courses at Georgetown.
  • Fellows get salary and benefits
  • About 6 U.S. fellows per year. Sister program: Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Program

University of Chicago Law School, Harry A. Bigelow Teaching Fellowships

Americorps Legal Fellowships

  • Part of the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps program
  • 11 month commitment
  • $30,000 - $40,000 for living allowance and supplemental benefits
  • Loan repayment assistance and health care insurance
  • Equal Justice Works network opportunities

Presidential Management Fellows

  • 2-year paid fellowship
  • Fellows are placed with a U.S. government agency; many are law school graduates
  • Only open to graduate students matriculating by August 31 of the PMF Exam year
  • Requires a nomination by department of graduating institution

Helton Fellowships (see below)


Fellowship Programs for Law Students

This guide focuses on fellowship opportunities after graduation, but there are some fellowships for summer work.

Peggy Browning Fund

  • Places students in summer jobs and school year fellowships with labor-related organizations
  • Includes mentor organizations throughout the U.S.

UW Graduate School, Bonderman Travel Fellowship

  • UW seniors and graduate students; several law graduates have received Bonderman fellowships in the past few years.
  • $20,000 award for travel. Fellows "must travel for eight or more months, exploring six or more countries in two or more major regions of the world."

Helton Fellowships

  • American Society of International Law
  • Annual "micro-grants" ($2000 in 2010) for "law students and young professionals [within 2 1/2 years of graduation] to pursue field work and research on significant issues involving international law, human rights, humanitarian affairs, and related areas" 
  • 11 grants in 2010
  • The application period for 2010 grants was open Oct. 12, 2009, to Feb. 12, 2010. It is important to apply early: due to administrative constraints, ASIL only considers the first 50 completed applications.

Robert Masur Fellowship in Civil Liberties

  • The Nation Institute
  • $1000 honorarium for "first-year law students who intend to carry out significant activities during the summer (in between their first and second year) in the areas of civil rights and/or civil liberties. Proposed activities may include a writing or research project, work with a public interest organization in the areas of civil rights or civil liberties, work on a civil rights or civil liberties law case under the supervision of a faculty member or lawyer, or any other work in the areas of civil rights or civil liberties."


When Should You Think About Fellowships?

  • During your 1L year, as you look ahead.
  • During your 2L summer, if you want to apply for fellowships whose deadlines are in September.
  • During your 3L fall, if you want to apply for fellowships whose deadlines are in the fall.
  • Throughout your 3L year, as opportunities arise.
  • After graduation, if you are in a clerkship or you want to change focus after your first job. Many organizations welcome applications from recent graduates.
  • For a list of deadlines, see PSLawNet's Calendar of Deadlines.


What Are Your Chances?

It depends on the program. Some programs receive hundreds of applications for a few slots; others are less competitive.

You may be a very desirable applicant!

As they say in the lottery ads: You have to play to win!


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