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Organizational Fellowships

Organization-based fellowships might be a good fit for you if...

  • You are interested in working for a national or regional advocacy organization devoted to a particular issue
  • You have developed experience in and have a demonstrated commitment to that issue
  • You would prefer to step into an existing position with an organization than to create your own project

Within the universe of public interest fellowships, organization-based fellowships look the most like entry-level staff attorney positions. They are usually administered by the organization itself, which both provides direct supervision and determines the duration of the fellowship, its salary, and the substance of the fellow's work portfolio.

Generally, the written application processes for these fellowships are relatively straightforward, requiring only the submission of a cover letter or personal statement, resume, references, transcript, and writing sample.

A hybrid form of post-graduate fellowship has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, in which a third-party entity funds a recent law graduate to work with a pre-selected legal services organization. These opportunities do not require the fellow to develop his or her own project or secure a host organization commitment. Unlike "traditional" organization-based fellowships, however, they are funded not by the host organization but by a third-party entity.

Examples of organization-based fellowships

  1. The Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship, sponsored by Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI), for a recent law or public policy graduate to address social justice issues and to enhance the quality of life for all residents of Chicago.
  2. The Zubrow Fellowship in Juvenile Law, sponsored by the Juvenile Law Center, for a recent law graduate to engage in a wide variety of advocacy efforts on behalf of children in the delinquency and dependency systems.
  3. The Sidney M. Wolinsky Fellowship, sponsored by Disability Rights Advocates, for a recent law graduate to advance equal rights for people with all types of disabilities nationwide.

Examples of "hybrid" organizational fellowships

  1. The Immigrant Justice Corps, which funds recent law graduates to work at selected non-profit immigration legal services providers in New York City for two years.
  2. The Gideon's Promise Law School Partnership Program, which places graduates of participating law schools in public defender offices across the southeast with support from the fellows' law schools. Two Vanderbilt Law graduates secured Gideon's Promise fellowships in 2020; future years' availability will depend on funding.
  3. The Equal Justice Works Issue-Specific Fellowship Program, which has in recent years funded dozens of law graduates to work on pre-defined, time-limited legal services projects with participating host organizations. Legal Corps projects have focused on disaster relief, veterans' issues, and removing barriers to employment for low-income persons.
  4. Poverty Justice Solutions, which places graduates in two-year fellowships as entry-level attorneys with civil legal service provides in New York City to improve House Court.

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