Public interest fellowships
The purpose of the Public Interest Law Fellowship program is to promote opportunities in public interest law, ease student financial stresses and offer needed assistance to organizations providing legal services to underserved constituencies.
Application deadline for 2023: Tuesday, March 28, 2023, at 5:00 pm
To be eligible for a fellowship award, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
- Current Wayne Law student/not transferring The applicant must be a current Wayne Law student and must be enrolled for the following fall semester. The student must be in good academic standing and have at least a cumulative "C" (2.0) average. A student may apply for more than one Public Interest Law Fellowship award during the course of his or her studies at Wayne Law.
- Full-time work with a public interest organization A sponsoring public interest organization must be identified at the time of application. The applicant must work either 10 weeks full time for a single public interest organization (as defined below) or, if the applicant chooses to split the summer between two public interest organizations, he/she must work five weeks full time at each organization for a total of 10 weeks. Full time is defined as an average of 40 hours per week.
- Low or no pay The applicant may receive only minimal funding from the sponsoring organization.
- Not an externship for academic credit The applicant may not receive a Public Interest Law Fellowship for work completed for academic credit.
- Submission of all application materials requested below.
- Confirmation of employment by the sponsoring public interest organization(s) (at least by the time of award if not confirmed at the time of application).
Beyond these minimum requirements, the selection criteria will include:
- A demonstrated interest in and commitment to public interest in general and to the specific issue/area of your proposed summer position(s). This interest may be demonstrated by employment, coursework, activities and volunteer experience.
- The potential for substantial benefit to you and the community/cause served from the proposed summer position(s), including contribution to your future law school studies and career.
Public interest organization defined
For purposes of the Public Interest Law Fellowship, a public interest organization is defined as:
- A government or intergovernmental institution Any domestic or foreign government agency, department or office (at the local, state, or federal level), or an intergovernmental organization, is eligible.
- A non-profit organization serving underserved interests Any non-profit organization that provides legal, policy or advocacy services exclusively to communities or persons that are underserved or underrepresented is eligible.
- A non-profit organization serving community interests (provided that the organization is not otherwise excluded) Any non-profit organization that provides legal, policy or advocacy services on behalf of the community at large is eligible.
- If you need some help in identifying a possible public interest organization, here is a list of Public Service Externship sites that encompass many of the local organizations that would qualify as a public interest organization.
Positions excluded from public interest organization definition
The following organizations aren't considered public interest organizations and therefore aren't eligible for fellowship funding (even if they otherwise meet the definition above):
- Judges and courts Traditional judicial internships aren't eligible. However, non-traditional work with a significant public interest component for a judge, court or tribunal may be considered eligible on a case-by-case basis by the fellowship committee.
- Professors and universities Academic work for a professor or for a university isn't eligible. However, work for a university-sponsored legal clinic is eligible.
- Partisan and campaign activities Work on a political campaign, for a political party or in a partisan capacity isn't eligible.
The anticipated amount of each Public Interest Law Fellowship award is undetermined and may be contingent on a number of factors such as the cost of living in the geographic location in which the work is performed, and the amount of other funding received by the fellow for the same work. If a student receives an outside financial award or fellowship to fund the same position as a Public Interest Law Fellowship, the Public Interest Law Fellowship award may be reduced by 50% of the value of the outside funding.
Applications cannot be amended after the application deadline (March 28, 2023). Students can amend their applications up until then, but any changes after that need to be sent directly to Dean Michel at email@example.com.
Accepting a position that wasn't included in the original application
If a fellowship applicant is awarded a fellowship, it is expected that he/she may accept one of the positions included in his/her initial application. However, understandably, the positions in the fellowship application may be approximations. Fellowship recipients may ultimately accept positions that weren't included in their initial application.
If the fellowship recipient accepts a different position (including a position with one of the organizations he/she specified but in a different office or with different duties), then he/she must amend his/her application. The fellowship committee then will evaluate that amended application and notify the applicant of the decision within seven days.
The Public Interest Law Fellowship Committee, appointed by the dean, selects and awards fellowships based on the application.
- Applicant information
- Name and address
- Phone number (preferably cell phone) and email
- Current transcript; an unofficial transcript is acceptable
- Current resume (three pages maximum)
- Personal statement (500 words maximum) The statement should address how you meet the Public Interest Law Fellowship selection criteria:
- A demonstrated interest and commitment to public interest in general and to the specific issue/area of your proposed summer position(s). This interest may be demonstrated by employment, coursework, activities and volunteer experience; and
- The potential for substantial benefit to you and the community/cause served from your proposed summer position(s), including contribution to your future law school studies and career.
- The statement may also discuss any other matter you believe relevant to whether you should be awarded a Public Interest Law Fellowship.
- Position information (Note: Applicants may include up to two potential positions in the application.)
- Organization contact information (organization/employer's name, address, phone number, email, website and a contact person.
- Position description (200 words maximum) For each organization/employer, describe the organization's work and mission, and the work the applicant will likely do over the summer.
- Name, email address and phone number of the applicant's legal supervisor at the organization.
- Status of position offer (i.e., Whether you have a confirmed offer, have interviewed and are awaiting a decision, or have merely submitted an application).
- Letters of support from an organization/employer, while optional, will be considered by the committee.
- Disclosure of additional outside financial support for the position, if any (e.g., Have you applied for additional outside funding for the position? If so, what is the status of that funding? What is the amount of that funding?). If at any time the Public Interest Law Fellowship recipient receives outside funding for the same position funded by the Public Interest Law Fellowship, the student must immediately notify the Public Interest Law Fellowship Committee.
- Authorization to review academic information for purposes of determining fellowship eligibility The applicant must explicitly state that their academic information may be reviewed for purposes of determining fellowship eligibility.
Funding and award payment
The fellowship is a departmental award and will be funded by the Law School at the dean's discretion. The award amount will be applied to the student's account balance in a lump sum at the end of the current winter semester.
If a student receives outside funding for the same position that is funded by a Public Interest Law Fellowship, the student must notify the Public Interest Law Fellowship Committee.
Students receiving a fellowship award must return a Final Report form and attach a written narrative, as described in the Final Report form. Timely submission of a final report is a requirement of the Public Interest Law Fellowship program.
The Final Report form will be available to other Wayne Law students to assist in their public interest law position searches. The fellowship recipient also may agree to make the written narrative available to other Wayne Law students.
The committee is appointed by the dean, and the dean reserves the authority to make all final decisions regarding the award of Public Interest Law Fellowships. The dean will strive to appoint a committee with faculty, alumni and student representation. The students on the committee won't have access to transcript or financial aid information of other students.
The committee will evaluate the applications and award the fellowships, subject to the dean's reserved authority to make all final decisions.