Access to Justice Institute

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If you have any questions about post-graduate public interest fellowships, please contact Jennifer Werdell, Associate Director of the Access to Justice Institute, at or 206.398.4455.

Post-Graduate Public Interest Fellowships

Fellowships are an excellent way to engage in and explore public service work, expand your social justice network, gain experience, and strengthen future job applications.

What Is a Fellowship?

The term "fellowship" encompasses a wide variety of programs, but 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. 

Fellowships are an excellent way to learn about public service work, make contacts, gain experience, and strengthen future job applications. Fellows are able to use their legal skills to effect positive change for disadvantaged populations, and they generally receive top-rate training and supervision. In addition, because application processes are so competitive, a fellowship is an impressive credential. Moreover, even if continued employment with a host organization does not materialize, a fellow has a strong professional foundation and contacts on which to build.

Types of Fellowships

  1. 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. AmeriCorps Legal Fellowships work through this model too.
  2. Project-Based: Some programs, such as the Soros Justice Fellowship 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. Note: the project-based fellowship process starts early! You must find a host organization to partner with and then submit a project proposal up to a year before your start date. Equal Justice Works' application for 2017 is due September 16, 2016.
  3. 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 Fellowship, sponsored by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
  4. Entrepreneurial Grants: These grants 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. Echoing Green is an example of organizations that provide this type of funding.
  5. Seattle University School of Law Fellowships: Since 2009, Seattle University School of Law has offered a post-graduate public interest fellowship to its graduating students. The fellowships are dependent on the School of Law's ability to raise funds through the generosity of alumni and external donors. For questions or further information, please contact Jennifer Werdell.

2016 Frances Perkins Fellowship

Seattle University School of Law is pleased to announce that that Lillian Kaide has been named as the 2016 Seattle University School of Law Frances Perkins Fellow at The Unemployment Law Project (ULP). The Fellowship is a unique partnership between ATJI and ULP, a statewide not-for-profit law firm established to assist and represent unemployed workers. Named for the former Secretary of Labor and first female cabinet member, the Frances Perkins Fellowship allows ULP to expand its capacity to help workers who lose their jobs maintain stability for themselves and their families while they search for new employment.

Lillian, a May 2016 graduate, will work full-time with ULP for nine months providing direct representation, advice, legal education, and community outreach to those who have been denied unemployment benefits or whose award of benefits is being challenged. The Fellowship will provide a salary, benefits, and professional development opportunities. 

Meet Past and Current Fellows

Seattle University School of Law graduates are committed to working for justice, and many recent graduates have received fellowships to work for a variety of organizations around the country. Read more of their inspiring stories.

  • Andrés E. Muñoz ('15): 2015 Seattle University School of Law Frances Perkins Fellow at the Unemployment Law Project
  • Marisa Ordonia ('14): 2014 Seattle University Leadership for Justice Fellow (2 year fellowship at TeamChild)
  • Diego Rondón Ichikawa ('13): 2013 Seattle University Leadership for Justice Fellow (National Employment Law Project)
  • Elizabeth Hendren ('12): 2012 Seattle University Leadership for Justice Fellow (Northwest Justice Project)
  • Alex West ('12): Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow (Northwest Justice Project Veterans Project)
  • Adam Chromy ('11): Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow (Northwest Justice Project Veterans Project)
  • Kevin DeLiban ('11):Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow (Legal Aid of Arkansas)
  • Anupa Iyer ('11): 2011 Seattle University Leadership for Justice Fellow (Mental Disability Advocacy Center)
  • Andra Kranzler ('11): 2011 Seattle University Justice in Action Fellow (Columbia Legal Services)
  • Reyna Ramolete Hayashi ('11): Hanna S. Cohn Equal Justice Fellow (Empire Justice Center)
  • Nick Allen ('10): Equal Justice Works Fellow (Columbia Legal Services)
  • Bette Fleishman ('10): 2010 Leadership for Justice Fellow (Disability Rights Washington)
  • Elizabeth Tonti ('10): AmeriCorps Attorney (Legal Aid of Arkansas)
  • Mike Clyburn ('09): Presidential Management Fellow (US Department of Housing and Urban Development)
  • Kristi Cruz ('09): 2009 Leadership for Justice Fellow (Northwest Justice Project)
  • Tiel Keltner ('09): Presidential Management Fellow (US Department of Veteran Affairs)
  • Riddhi Mukhopadhyay ('09): Berkeley Law Foundation Fellow (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project)
  • Persis Yu ('09): Hanna S. Cohn Equal Justice Fellow (Empire Justice Center)

When Do I Apply for a Postgraduate Fellowship?

There is not one “fellowship application season” – deadlines run throughout the calendar year – but the earlier you start working on an application, the stronger it will be. Be aware that some organizations, particularly organizations seeking candidates to sponsor for project-based fellowships, solicit resumes and interview potential candidates as early as the spring of your 2L year. For example, an organization may be recruiting and selecting candidates in March 2016 to submit an application in September 2016 for a project to begin in September 2017.

Suggested Timeline
Based on Equal Justice Works recommendations, here is a suggested timeline to help you be successful in your fellowship search:

First Year
  • Get involved! Join public interest and student groups that you are interested in. Explore leadership opportunities within these organizations. Volunteer with organizations whose missions you believe in.
  • Meet with CPD and ATJI to discuss your interests and goals.
  • Consider what you would like your first summer employment experience to look like and apply for summer positions.
  • Attend the NW Public Interest Job Fair (usually in February).
  • Begin exploring post-graduate fellowship programs and possible organizations to work with.
  • Demonstrate – either in your full-time position or in extra activities – a commitment to public interest when possible.
Second Year
  • Attend the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair in Washington DC in October.
  • Continue researching post-graduate fellowship opportunities.
  • Meet with CPD/ATJI to discuss fellowships of interest and deadlines.
  • Attend the NW Public Interest Service Fair (usually in February).
  • Continue researching post-graduate fellowship opportunities.
  • Identify and start making contacts with potential host organizations. Determine what internal deadlines might be relevant for potential hosts.
  • Start pulling together and drafting your application materials for fellowships.
  • Meet with CPD, ATJI, and other advisors/mentors about application materials, especially personal statement and/or project proposal.
  • Start applying for fellowships and prepare for any interviews.
  • Continue to work or volunteer in areas of interest.
Third Year
  • Apply for fellowships and other post-graduate positions on a regular basis; prepare for any interviews.
  • Attend Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair in Washington DC in October.
  • Attend the NW Public Service Job Fair (usually in February).

Additional Information

  • Watch ATJI’s panel event on postgraduate fellowships.
  • Comprehensive database of public interest jobs and fellowships. also offers extensive info for fellowship applicants through their “Fellowship Resource Center,” including application tips and timelines for common fellowship programs.
  • Equal Justice Works: The largest national funder of legal public interest fellowships, EJW provides information about their own programs (including EJW/AmeriCorps) alongside additional public interest resources for prospective, current, and former law students.
  • Yale Fellowship Guide: Comprehensive guide on finding and applying for fellowships.
  • Advocate Resource Center: Information on how to apply for a fellowship with a handful of Washington-area organizations
  • Staff at the Center for Professional Development are available to discuss public sector, nonprofit, and NGO opportunities and to have your application materials reviewed. Materials are reviewed in the order they are received and are generally returned within 3 business days. Contact Maureen Roat.
  • For support creating project-based fellowship proposals (for funders like Equal Justice Works), information about funding sources for nonprofit and social entrepreneurial grants, contact Jennifer Werdell at ATJI.