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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.
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law has several excellent fellowship opportunities for recent graduates. These fellowships are designed to provide graduates with the unique opportunity to gain the one thing employers seek now more than ever: experience. A fellowship is a paid position that usually lasts approximately one year. Graduates often start fellowships after graduating and taking the bar exam, but before moving on to permanent employment. The fellowships developed by Moritz are modeled after medical residencies and judicial clerkships, which provide graduates with hands-on training experience and a salary in exchange for high-quality work.
Outside Fellowships and Summer Funding
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. Summer fellowships can offer a stipend for work by a law student fellow and sometimes the term fellowship can mean a shorter term positions as well as post graduate opportunities. The best resource for summer funding options is www.psjd.org which lists numerous options for funding based on host site, practice area and by geographic region. Law firms and corporations sometimes host specific summer opportunities. Here is one example of such a summer opportunity open to Moritz students:
Squire Patton Boggs Foundation Public Service Fellowship
The cornerstone of the Squire Patton Boggs Foundation is the Public Policy Fellowship Program, which launched in 2005. One Moritz College of Law student will be nominated to receive $5,000 to work during the summer to advance public policy issues, for either a non-profit organization, NGO or government institution (but not a for-profit organization). Preference will be given to students with strong interest in international matters although the work can be either in the United States or abroad. Applicants to the Washington D.C. Externship Program are not eligible to apply. Read more about the Public Policy Fellowship program on the “Corporate Responsibility” section of Squire Patton Bogg’s website. To learn more about eligibility, application deadlines, and how to apply, please click here.
Post Graduate Fellowships
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.