University of Chicago Law School Postgraduate Public Interest Law Fellowship

The University of Chicago Law School offers a limited number of competitive, one-year, postgraduate public interest law fellowships. These fellowships are open only to members of the J.D. graduating class of the University of Chicago Law School. [A list of previous and current Fellows and their host agencies can be found on the Law School’s website].

The University of Chicago Public Interest Law Fellows will serve full-time at eligible public service host organizations for a term of one year (twelve months), beginning no later than November.  Eligible host organizations may include nonprofit public interest law organizations and governmental public service entities. However, judicial clerkships, judicial internships/externships, work on political campaigns, and positions at a university (including research assistants, university counsel, or clinical positions) are not eligible for this program.

Applications are considered by The University of Chicago Law School’s Public Interest Fellowship Selection Committee. In reviewing each application, the Committee will consider several factors, including the applicant’s demonstrated record of commitment to public service; the applicant’s public service experience during and before law school; evidence that the applicant plans to pursue a long-term career in public interest law; academic achievements; leadership capabilities; and the quality of professional references. In addition, the Committee will strive to assess the mission, goals, history and accomplishments of the proposed host organization, and to evaluate the community need for the proposed fellowship and its potential impact on the host organization.

Applicants must identify and secure the agreement of an eligible host organization and include proof of that agreement in their application, as detailed below. Questions concerning organization eligibility should be directed to Susan Curry.

Each fellowship includes financial support for the fellowship year. Fellows must provide periodic progress reports, including a final report at the end of the fellowship year. The Fellowship program is made possible, in large part, through the generosity of alumni donors. Progress reports and other relevant materials may be shared with fellowship donors, when appropriate.

A complete application must include seven items:

1) Your resume or CV.

2) A short statement.  Applicants should describe, in approximately 500 to 750 words, (1) your prior experiences in public service or public interest law, as well as any of your prior experiences that have demonstrated or encouraged your commitment to public service; and (2) your aspirations for future public interest work.  Rather than restating the content of your resume, applicants are encouraged to submit a topical or thematic essay.

3) Your proposed plan for the fellowship year. Together with the sponsoring organization, you must either develop a new project, or identify ongoing work or an ongoing project upon which you will work. This plan should clearly identify your host organization; the name and contact information of your immediate supervisor in the host organization; and a short statement of the entity’s organizational purpose and mission.  The plan must include (1) a brief overview of the project; (2) a brief explanation of the need for the project; (3) individual goals to be met by the project, how the goals will further the public interest, and how they will be accomplished in one year’s time. Applicants should submit a proposed timeline for the year.   

4)  A statement of other postgraduate fellowships, clerkships or job opportunities to which the applicant has/had applied and the status of those applications.

5) Your law school transcript(s). Your transcript need not be an official transcript.

6) At least three professional references. You should not list your proposed host organization supervisor among these references. Rather, your references should be current or former professors or employers (preferably a direct supervisor) or someone familiar with your recent job experiences and/or legal work. Note: You do not need reference letters; you need only to list those references with appropriate contact information.

7) A separate letter from your host organization confirming its commitment to host you. In addition to providing any general materials about its work, the sponsoring organization should provide (1) a general statement of its organizational purpose and mission; (2) a statement of its interest in and commitment to the project, along with any general plans for the Fellow’s training or professional development; (3) the proposed work environment for the Fellow, describing individual or shared work space, support staff and other resources; (4) the name of the Fellow’s immediate supervisor and plans for supervision, along with the supervisor’s experience in the substantive area of the fellowship project; and (5) whether the organization will be able to provide health insurance benefits for the Fellow.  If the organization will not be providing health insurance coverage, the organization should provide a clear explanation (e.g., that the proposed Fellow has waived coverage).  If applicable, all host organizations must provide malpractice coverage to cover any Fellow’s activities during the course of the Fellowship.  

Prior to submitting an application, applicants are strongly urged to contact the University of Chicago Law School’s Director of Public Interest Law & Policy, Susan Curry, to discuss their proposed Fellowship project and to address any questions about their eligibility or the eligibility of their proposed project(s) or host organization.

Applications are now closed for the 2014-2015 Fellowship year.  Check back on this site for an annoucnement of the Spring 2015 deadline for 2015-2016 felowship applications.