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Ford Foundation 1L Public Interest Law School Fellowship

Yale Law School is participating in the Ford Foundation Public Interest Law School Summer Fellowship grant program. The program offers students the opportunity to gain experience on the frontlines of public interest law and is designed to connect highly motivated and accomplished law students to substantive, ten-week placements with the foundation’s grantee organizations around the world, working to improve the lives of others through legal analysis, litigation and public policy advocacy.

In its 2013 inaugural year, the Ford Foundation connected nearly 100 law school students from Harvard, New York University, Stanford, and Yale Law Schools to grantee organizations in the U.S. and abroad.


The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.


The Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Summer Fellowship Program will support 20 first and second year law students from each of the four participating law schools with a stipend of $9,750 for ten weeks to have a substantive and transformative experience as summer interns with participating Ford Grantee Organizations. Giving students the opportunity to work in the field of public interest law, the program seeks to award highly motivated and accomplished students with an internship in a domestic or international Ford Foundation grantee organization whose work focuses broadly on legal analysis, litigation, and public policy advocacy. Working closely with lawyers and advocates, students will gain exposure to a variety of diverse settings and will be exposed to such topics as reproductive rights, civil rights, gay, lesbian, and transgender rights, immigrants’ rights, prisoner and ex-offenders’ rights, voting rights, children’s rights, and other areas of concern with respect to social justice and equity.


Placements for the Ford Summer Fellowship Program will be made using a match process. In completing an application, students will rank five Ford Grantee Organizations where they wish to be placed. From all student applications submitted, YLS will select 15 first-year Ford Summer Fellows. Ford Grantee Organizations will then review the applications of selected students from each of the four participating law schools and rank the students who ranked their organization. Organizations may elect to conduct interviews. A match process will then be used to determine each student’s organization placement. The match will take into account the students’ ranking of organizations and the organizations’ ranking of students. Every effort will be made to match selected students with one of their ranked organizations. In the event a student is not matched, he/she will have the option to work with Ford and YLS to secure an alternative placement or pursue other employment opportunities outside of the Ford Program.


Over 100 Ford Grantee Organizations in the U.S. and abroad have signed on to participate in the fellowship program. Information about the participating organizations is available at: www.fordlawfellowships.org.

Click here for login information.

After logging in, click on an organization’s name to view their Grantee Organization Data Sheet for more information about the nature of their internship opportunity.


By submitting an application, you agree that if selected by YLS as a Ford Fellow, you will accept an offer from any of your ranked Ford Grantee Organizations.

Step One
Review the list of Ford Grantee Organizations (by using the login information from the link above) to determine which 5 organizations are of interest to you.

Step Two
Draft the following application materials:

1. A resume (only one resume per applicant is permitted).

2. One document containing a cover letter for each of your ranked Ford Grantee Organizations. Each cover letter should be specific for each ranked organization.

3. A Personal Statement (750 words maximum) that includes a description of: a) why you want to participate in the Ford Law School Public Interest Fellowship Program; b) what you want to accomplish as a Ford Fellow in summer 2014; and c) past examples of leadership and potential for future leadership.

Step Three
Log into CMS using your NetID as your username (utilize the Forgot Password option if necessary). Follow the instructions provided under Announcements for uploading your application materials to CMS and ranking your organizations. All application materials and rankings must be complete and uploaded by December 6, 2013.


 Applications due
 December 6, 2013
 Selected students notified by YLS  December 17, 2013
 Selected students confirm participation   December 18, 2013
 Results of match announced  February 13, 2014
 Selected fellows confirm match  February 14, 2014


Once selected for this program, Ford Foundation Law School Fellows will be required to engage in activities designed to enhance connection with other fellows, and to assist development of the program.

  1. Prior to the start of the summer internship, each Fellow will be required to read:
    a. Quigley, Letter To a Law Student Interested in Social Justice (2007)
    b. Scheingold and Sarat, Something to Believe In, Politics, Professionalism, and Cause Lawyering, Chapter 2 (Cause Lawyering, Civic Professionalism, and the Organized Legal Profession: A Brief History)
    c. Bellow, Steady Work: A Practitioner’s Reflections on Political Lawyering, 31 Harv. C. R. – C. L. L. Rev 297 (1996)
    d. Bell, Serving Two Masters, 85 Yale L. J. 470 (1976)
  2. During and at the end of the summer program, each Fellow will be required to write three reflection papers, which will be submitted by pre-agreed upon dates to Akua Akyea in the Career Development Office and address:
    a. Reflection Paper #1. Submit during the first week of internship describing organization’s mission, supervision structure for internship, personal and professional goals for summer internship, and a “response” to any or all of the readings.
    b. Reflection Paper #2. Submit during Week 5 of internship describing major projects, assessing whether the goals described in Reflection Paper #1 are being or are likely to be accomplished or whether they need to be adjusted, analyzing an issue related to the structure of the internship organization and an issue raised in one or more of the readings.
    c. Reflection paper #3. Submit during the last week of internship providing an overview of accomplishments, describing the most surprising aspect of internship, and assessing accomplishment of goals. (This is separate and distinct from an evaluation of the organization.)
  3. Internship Evaluation
    Within two weeks of the last day of the internship, each fellow will be required to complete a “Summer Employment Evaluation” for CDO.
  4. Program Support
    Each Fellow will be asked to assist with recruitment of students for the following year.
  5. Fall Colloquium Attendance at Ford Foundation
    In fall 2014, the Ford Foundation will host a colloquium in New York for the Fellows to meet in person, to continue their learning from the summer, and to further deepen the connections of the cohort group. The Ford Foundation will reimburse reasonable travel costs to attend the colloquium.

Please contact Akua Akyea at ford.fellowship@yale.edu with any questions.

Ford Foundation Summer Fellowship Program FAQs
Ford Foundation Earnings Contribution FAQs