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A post-graduate fellowship is an opportunity to practice law for an organization that may not otherwise hire full-time attorneys, and to build a specialty practice to better serve your clients and your organization.
Through fellowships, attorneys work with a host organization on a specified project for a defined period of time (typically one or two years). The host organization provides an annual stipend, and in some instances benefits, including health care and/or loan repayment assistance.
Post-graduate fellowships can involve a wide-array of practice areas and projects, typically, but not always, with a focus on public interest practice. Fellowships are located internationally, not only in big cities, but in rural areas and on tribal lands as well.
Students considering fellowships should get to know the client population with whom they wish to work, for instance, the Justice For Children practicum at Moritz has proved a useful training ground for students pursuing fellowships in child law. Students take every opportunity to perform public service activities while at the Moritz College. Employers want to see proven interest in public interest law.
Students considering fellowships may also want to plan to perform at least 50 hours of pro bono legal assistance during their three years at Moritz in order to receive the Public Service Fellows (PSF) designation on their final transcript and Moritz diploma. For more on how to become a PSF, go to the PSF web site.
There are several kinds of post-graduate fellowships. Some require that the student develop a project and find a sponsoring organization. Others are for a position within an existing organization and the stipend is paid as a salary. Students should work or volunteer at potential sponsoring organizations during summers or in the school year. References from within a potential host organization generally are looked upon favorably by fellowships sponsors. Having worked with an organization, applicants can easily show they are familiar with the needs, concerns, and special legal issues of their particular client base.
Other fellowships are offered in conjunction with an LL.M. program (i.e. Georgetown University Law Center Appellate Litigation Fellowship); offered for specialized career development purposes (i.e. Columbia Law School Human Rights Law Teaching Fellowship); offered by private foundations (i.e. Skadden Fellowship); funded by large law firms, (i.e. Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Jones Day Pro Bono Fellowship) or offered in various substantive areas of law (i.e. National Center for Youth Law Fellowship). Generally fellowships are highly competitive and highly coveted.
Moritz alumni and professors have served as fellows in a wide variety of programs from Skadden Foundation Fellows, to Georgetown Fellows, to Americorps Fellows, to many Equal Justice Works Fellows, to name a few. For help strategizing about the fellowship process, start early, and contact Cybele Smith, Director of Public Service and Public Interest Programs, at email@example.com.