Yale Law School Expands Its Public Interest Fellowship Program
“Yale Law School supports each student in discovering or creating a career in which to flourish,” said Acting Dean Kate Stith. “Our students go on to exceptional service in the private sector, in the public sector, and in the academy. Many of our graduates will contribute in all three of these endeavors at various times in their lives. We are delighted to have such a strong and committed group of students and alumni entering public service, in government as well as non-profit agencies, next year.”
In April 2008, Dean Harold Hongju Koh announced the creation of the YLS Public Interest Fellowship Program to complement YLS’s existing fellowship programs that include the Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowship; the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowships in International Human Rights; the Heyman Federal Public Service Fellowship Program; and the new Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship Initiative. These fellowships, along with Yale’s generous and flexible post-graduate loan forgiveness program known as COAP (Career Options Assistance Program), help YLS graduates to launch and maintain public interest careers in a host of settings, even in economically challenging times.
Six of the incoming fellows will be working for the U.S. federal government on issues as varied as climate legislation at the Environmental Protection Agency, nuclear policy at the Department of Defense, and intelligence oversight in the House of Representatives. Four others will become part of state and local governments or public defender offices, and five will be located in international courts from Geneva to Johannesburg.
In the non-profit sector, seven fellows will provide legal services through such organizations as The Bronx Defenders and Ayuda, Inc. of Washington, D.C. Six fellows will rely on a range of methods (litigation, legislative advocacy, education and research) to respond to domestic challenges related to economic inequality, civil rights, and social justice in settings that include The Brennan Center for Justice, the ACLU, The Natural Resources Defense Council, and UNITE HERE Local 11 in Los Angeles. Three other fellows are working on international human rights issues with such groups as Lawyers for Human Rights in South Africa, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists.
In addition to these Yale-funded fellows, nine YLS graduates will pursue social justice work through fellowship programs funded by other organizations, such as Skadden, Equal Justice Works, the ACLU, David Rosen & Associates, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many other students go on to judicial clerkships and take up positions in the academy or in the public and non-profit sectors.
Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law and Chair of the YLS Public Interest Fellowship Committee, recalled that “when it began in 1997, Yale’s Arthur Liman Public Interest Fund was able to support one fellow, who started a project advocating for nursing home residents in Michigan. Now, some twelve years later, Yale Law School is helping to support more than thirty fellows. Our graduates will address problems central to our polity and our world, such as access to justice and the lack of services for criminal defendants, nuclear disarmament and security, and the conscription of child soldiers and trafficking in persons.” Professor Resnik added, “All of this is possible because of our students’ commitment to public service work, the educational environment created by students and faculty here, and the many alumni and others who have enabled us to support their contributions to the public good.”
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