Stanford Law School Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships

Stanford Law School’s Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law offers postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships which enable our graduates to work full-time for a year in a law-related endeavor designed to further the public interest. These include both general postgraduate Stanford Law School fellowships on any public interest issue and those targeting specific substantive areas (e.g., international, criminal defense, criminal justice). There are slightly different eligibility requirements for each program, but there will be one joint application process. Finalists will be invited to an interview with the selection committee.

Sponsoring entities are not required to make any financial contributions toward the Fellow’s salary or benefits but must demonstrate their ability to support the Fellow (e.g., appropriate supervision, adequate office space, resources to support program expenses).

Eligible organizations may engage in direct legal services, impact litigation, or policy advocacy, either domestically or abroad. Applicants do not need to propose creation of a new project but should outline the responsibilities they anticipate undertaking if selected.

SLS makes no recommendations regarding specific fellowship sponsors or guarantees that placement will be feasible and/or permitted with all potential sponsors or in all foreign jurisdictions.

Awards and Fellowships 2

Six graduates chosen as Fellows were reunited at the 2013 Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation’s pre-auction reception. Left to right: Michael Caesar, JD ’11; Shira Levine, JD ’12; Maureen Keffer, JD ’11; Meredith Johnson, JD ’12; Christy Holstege, JD ’12; and Stephanie Klitsch, JD ’12.

Stanford Law School Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships

“I am incredibly grateful for my SLS postgraduate public interest fellowship. It enabled me to do meaningful work at a wonderful nonprofit organization straight out of law school.”

– Stephanie Klitsch, JD ’12, staff attorney, Council for Children’s Rights

Stanford Law School Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships 2

“My SLS post-graduate fellowship allowed me to gain a foothold in the New York public interest market, which is highly competitive. Because of the litigation skills I developed during my fellowship, I eventually landed my dream job as a Housing Attorney in the Tenant Rights Coalition at Brooklyn Legal Services, where I represent low-income Brooklyn tenants in individual and building-wide cases. I couldn’t be happier, and am so grateful to SLS for investing in my career.”

– Chantal Johnson, JD ’14, staff attorney, Brooklyn Legal Services

Stanford Law School Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships 1

“The Stanford Fellowship launched my public interest career and gave me the opportunity and skills to advocate on behalf of immigrant workers, an area I am deeply passionate about.”

– Shira Levine, JD ’12, staff attorney, Centro Legal de la Raza

Stanford Law School Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships 5

“My Stanford Fellowship allowed me to provide critically needed legal assistance to immigrants in the underserved Central Valley, and it has provided me the experience I need to continue to work as a civil rights lawyer at the ACLU — my dream job. I’m very thankful for SLS’s generous support.”

– Katie Traverso, JD ’12, Fellow, ACLU of Southern California

Eligibility

ELIGIBILITY FOR GENERAL POSTGRADUATE PUBLIC INTEREST FELLOWSHIP (5 available):

All members of the SLS JD Classes of 2014-2016 who have not previously been awarded a postgraduate legal fellowship or government honors/new attorney program position are eligible to apply for one of four general SLS postgraduate public interest fellowships. Current students must be in good standing to be eligible.

In addition to the four described above, the Class of 2014 has funded one postgraduate fellowship position intended for a graduate from the JD class of 2016.

These five positions can be placements at any domestic 501(c)(3) non-profit organization or international tax-exempt non-governmental organization that provides legal services for underrepresented communities or otherwise serves the public interest. Clerkships with international courts are also eligible. Applicants seeking placements overseas must consult with Titi Liu, director of international public interest initiatives, no later than Monday, January 11, 2016.

ELIGIBILITY FOR CIVITAS POSTGRADUATE PUBLIC INTEREST FELLOWSHIP (1 available):

A generous alumnus has also newly created the Civitas Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowship. All members of the SLS JD Classes of 2014-2016 who have not previously been awarded a postgraduate legal fellowship or government honors/new attorney program position are eligible to apply for this fellowship. Current students must be in good standing to be eligible.

This position is intended to support one alumnus/a to represent clients and advance issues that address the negative effects of the criminal justice system on under-served and indigent communities at a public defender office or non-profit organization in the United States.

ELIGIBILITY FOR CRIMINAL DEFENSE POSTGRADUATE PUBLIC INTEREST FELLOWSHIP (1 available):

The Stanford Law School Criminal Defense Fellowship will enable the recipient to work full-time for a year in a law-related endeavor designed to further the cause of criminal defense. All members of the SLS JD Classes of 2014-2016 who have not previously been awarded a postgraduate fellowship or government honors/new attorney program position are eligible to apply. Current students must be in good standing to be eligible.

One fellow will be selected by March 2016. This fellowship position has a separate selection committee but will use the same joint application.

The recipient must be sponsored by a 501(c)(3) organization or governmental entity (including a Public Defender or similar office) that provides legal services relating to criminal defense in the United States.

ELIGIBILITY FOR INTERNATIONAL POSTGRADUATE PUBLIC INTEREST FELLOWSHIP (2 available):

All members of the SLS JD or advanced degree classes of 2014-2016 who have not previously been awarded a postgraduate legal fellowship or government honors/new attorney program position are eligible to apply for a 2016-2017 fellowship. Current students must be in good standing to be eligible.

In 2016-2017, up to two international postgraduate fellowships will be offered.

Our program allows applicants to propose placements at any international or foreign non-governmental organization that advances the public interest in a post conflict or transitional society. Graduating students or alumni seeking clerkships with international tribunals are eligible to apply for this fellowship as well.

All applicants for this fellowship must consult with Titi Liu, director of international public interest initiatives, by Monday, January 11 before preparing your application.

View the application

Program Details

Each fellowship will include a one-year salary of $45,000 and the same benefits that the sponsoring organization would ordinarily provide to an employee at the recipient’s level (up to $15,000 maximum). Grants will be made to the sponsoring organization if at all possible but may be made directly to the alumnus/a if the host organization cannot receive the grant. Moreover, the Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program will provide additional funds directly to the alumni to meet qualifying educational loan repayment obligations during the fellowship year.

The next deadline will be 12 noon PST on January 28, 2016.  Interviews will be conducted in mid to late February 2016.

The Selection Committee will include the Dean of the Law School, members of the faculty, an alumnus/a who previously served as an SLS Fellow, and a member of the Levin Center staff. Selection will occur by the beginning of March 2016.

In reviewing each application, the committee will consider several factors, including the applicant’s commitment to a career in public interest law, the potential impact of the applicant’s work, and the capacity of the sponsoring organization to provide meaningful supervision to the fellow.  In evaluating these factors, the committee will look to the application and accompanying essays, law school record, recommendations, and organizational letter of support.

The fellowship will last for one year, beginning in or around September 2016.

Program History

The fellowship program was established in 2008 in partnership with the Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation. Starting with the 2014-2015 fellowship year, the fellowship positions were wholly funded by Stanford Law School.

The four 2015-2016 SLS Fellows are:

  • Laura Bixby, JD ’14, who will work with the Orleans Public Defenders to end the imprisonment of poor people charged with minor offenses in municipal court who are unable to pay their fees, documenting these practices and pursuing reforms through direct representation, community activism, and impact litigation;
  • Sabrina Forte, JD ’14, who will join Bay Area Legal Aid to prevent homelessness among delinquency-involved foster youth in the San Francisco Bay Area by enforcing their legal rights to permanent placement, public benefits, housing, health access, and education, through direct representation and collaboration with system partners;
  • Aimee Krause, JD ’13, who will promote and defend the rights of pregnant and parenting women in the criminal justice system, schools, and the workforce, concentrating on advancing gender equity and reproductive rights for women in upstate New York as part of the New York Civil Liberties Union; and
  • Camden Vilkin, JD ’14, who will work with the Alameda County Public Defenders office to represent defendants in criminal and juvenile cases and certain civil proceedings.

Past recipients of the SLS Fellowship are:

  • Chantal Johnson, JD ’14, who represented mentally ill clients of the Bronx Defenders in civil legal matters, including public housing and benefits, and built the agency’s Social Security practice by creating model briefs and developing an internal training manual outlining how to represent mentally ill clients in Social Security proceedings. She is now a staff attorney at Brooklyn Legal Services, working in their Housing Practice (2014-2015);
  • Sophia Lin Lakin, JD ’12, who was at the ACLU, Voting Rights Project, developing new legal and policy approaches and leveraging existing ones to challenge restrictive state and local laws, expand registration and ballot access, and protect minority voting rights (2014-2015);
  • Katie Traverso, JD ’12, who worked with the ACLU of Southern California to provide legal advocacy on behalf of the immigrant and Latino communities in Kern County, California, who are denied access to essential social services and subjected to civil rights abuses due to local authorities’ collaboration with immigration enforcement  (2014-2015);
  • Meredith Johnson, JD ’12, who worked at the Impact Fund in Berkeley, California, advocating on behalf of immigrant women farmworkers in California’s Central Valley who are sexually harassed at work or who suffer retaliation for reporting harassment, and is now an associate at Altshuler Berzon in San Francisco (2013-2014);
  • Shira Levine, JD ’12 who was at Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center in San Francisco, California, representing low-wage, subcontracted immigrant workers who face routine wage theft from their employers, is now a staff attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland (2013-2014);
  • Christy Holstege, JD ’12, who independently established a legal clinic within Shelter from the Storm, a domestic violence shelter-based agency in California’s rural Coachella Valley, continues to work in Coachella Valley and serves low-income and underserved communities, including people with disabilities, LGBT clients, homeless clients, injured workers, personal injury victims, and victims of discrimination and violence (2012-2013);
  • Stephanie Klitsch, JD ’12, who continues to work at the Council for Children’s Rights in Charlotte, North Carolina after spending her fellowship year focused on improving educational opportunities for foster youth with emotional and behavioral disabilities through client representation and community education (2012-2013);
  • Michael Caesar, JD ’11, who spent his fellowship year with the Impact Fund in Berkeley, California, working to protect those who have been refused employment or wrongfully terminated because of their citizenship status or national origin and is now with the Contra Costa Public Defenders’ office (2011-2012);
  • Maureen Keffer, JD ’11, who spent her fellowship year with California Rural Legal Assistance in its Salinas office representing indigenous Mexicans and other farmworkers who are victims of human trafficking and labor issues and is now directing the program (2011-2012);
  • Michael Kaufman, JD ’07, who is now a staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California after spending his fellowship year with them to improve inhumane and unlawful conditions at Southern California immigration detention facilities (2010-2011);
  • Jessica Oats, JD ’09, who remained a staff attorney with the same organization that hosted her fellowship, Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia for an additional six years before joining the Office of the State Public Defender in California (and she is featured in our Spring 2010 newsletter) (2009-2010); and
  • Thomas Nosewicz, JD ’08, who is now a staff attorney with the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York, after having spent his fellowship year with the Special Litigation Department of the Orleans Public Defender in New Orleans, LA (and is featured in our Summer 2010 newsletter) (2008-2009).

Please address all questions regarding the fellowship to public.interest@law.stanford.edu.