Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships
Many people come to law school hoping to pursue legal careers that make the world a better place.
Fellowships collectively are the largest source of entry-level public interest jobs in non-profit organizations, government agencies, public interest law firms and clinical academic settings. Fellowships are short-term (usually one or two-year), full-time public interest positions for new or recent law graduates. Many organizations hire fellows for permanent positions at the conclusion of fellowships. Fellowships offer both substantive and geographic flexibility and provide excellent experience and exposure, which can be critical to finding subsequent public interest employment. The following pages can help you begin to understand and identify some of the most common fellowship options.
- Project fellowships are designed to fund the creation of new, innovative public interest law projects. Applicants must develop a project proposal, usually in conjunction with a host organization. Skadden and Equal Justice Works are the most well-known project fellowship sponsors.
- Organizational fellowships are established positions within existing organizations offered either at predetermined intervals (e.g., every one or two years) or as funding allows. Hundreds of organizational fellowships are available every year within non-profit organizations, agencies, as well as a handful of for-profit law firms.
- Organizational Fellowships for Georgetown Law are opportunities designed only for Georgetown Law JD graduates from the current class year, created in partnership with non-profit or local government offices in DC and around the country. These fellowships are usually one-year opportunities at organizations that rarely hire new graduates for entry-level positions and that open doors for fellows within those organizations or similar ones in the field. Historically, Georgetown has supported Organizational Fellowships at entities such as: DC Office of the Attorney General and the DC Office of Administrative Hearings. These fellowship applications typically open up in late January or early February.
- Georgetown Justice Fellowships partially fund post-graduate fellowships by providing host organizations with $22,500 to hire fellows for a one-year term. GJFs are available in two different forms: 1. Pre-Designed GJFs are one-year entry level positions that applicants can apply for. 2. Design-Your-Own GJFs are funding opportunities for applicants to partner with host organizations to design their own fellowship which must be law related public interest work. The Georgetown Justice Grants are available each year for that year’s graduating JD Class.
- Clinical teaching fellowships are short-term positions with law school clinical programs. Most combine public interest practice with academic study or teaching, and some offer a degree at the end of the fellowship. These positions are rare for new graduates and typically require 3-5 years of practice experience.
- DC Affordable Law Firm (DCALF), provides a fellowship experience for new graduates to serve as staff attorneys, providing affordable legal services to DC residents in a breadth of practice areas, including family law, immigration, and probate law. Additionally, Fellows enrolled in this 15-month program will receive an LL.M in Advocacy and 12 weeks of intensive subject area and trial skills training.
- Additional Resources: OPICS has an archived consolidated list of postgraduate public sector opportunities for Georgetown students. If you are not affiliated with Georgetown, you may view the external version of the list. Both lists include postgraduate opportunities that the OPICS team shared throughout the 2021-2022 academic year in its postgraduate opportunities listserv for the class of 2022. These lists include fellowship funders, organizational fellowships, and government positions. Neither list is not exhaustive and they do not contain every public sector opportunity or position that was available for graduates.
Jennie Netburn is OPICS’ primary fellowship counselor and sends regular listserv messages to students interested in exploring this path. OPICS also hosts information sessions and can connect you with former fellows. Email or meet with Jennie for all things fellowship related, including reviewing your application materials and mock interviews.