Fellowships are an excellent way to learn about public service work, make contacts, gain experience, and strengthen future job applications. The term “fellowship” encompasses a wide variety of programs. Most often, it is a program intended to fund work or study for a specific purpose, for a set period of time. Fellowships are a gateway to public interest work, particularly into large, national organizations that typically hire attorneys with years of experience.
There are four main types of fellowships:
- Organization-Based: A number of nonprofit organizations administer their own fellowship, such as ACLU and Human Rights Watch. The organization determines salary, duration, and scope of fellowship.
- Project-Based: Some foundations, such as the Soros Foundation and Equal Justice Works, fund fellowships for applicants who develop a specific project in conjunction with a sponsoring nonprofit organization. The fellowship is awarded for work on a specific project, but often the recipient determines where the work is done.
- Firm-Sponsored: Law firms have a variety of fellowship models. In all of them, the fellow is paid for a period of time while she engages in public interest work. Later, the fellow may or may not join the firm. The most well-known of these fellowships is the Skadden Fellowships, sponsored by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
- Entrepreneurial Grants: Grants to support a public interest project that you have developed without the aid of an established organization or intention of attaching project to a pre-existing organization.