Fellowships.jpgWe’ve been writing about career alternatives for lawyers. With all the layoff news coming out of law firms these days, it’s good to remember that there are things you can do with a law degree other than working for a large law firm. Today, we’re touching on fellowship options for attorneys.

Of course, there are judicial clerkships, the ultimate “de-facto” fellowships for attorneys, and legal academia fellowships (aspiring law professors should check out TaxProf Blog’s compilation). But we are focusing on opportunities for mid-career attorneys, who may want to get away from Biglaw for a year or two, but ultimately want to keep on practicing.

We’re listing a few and encourage you to mention others in the comments. If you’re looking for interesting experiences, and don’t mind a dip in your salary, here are a few fellowships to consider:

  • The White House Fellowship
  • The Supreme Court Fellows
  • Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Fellowships
  • The Skadden Fellowship (not mid-career, but worth mention)
  • More on each of these fellowships, and advice for those thinking about fellowships, after the jump.


    Here’s a rundown on these fellowships:

    The White House Fellowship

    A “leadership and pubic service” fellowship, it places fellows with Cabinet secretaries or in the White House. Director Janet Slaughter Eissenstat says it is aimed at those looking for a broadening experience, rather than those trying to develop a specific expertise. The fellowship is open to college grads who are fairly established in their careers. The program has had a good number of lawyerly fellows, from law firm partners to recent law school grads (who had a good amount of work experience before law school). Deadline for applications is Feb. 1. Salary is approximately $100,000 for the September to August fellowship year.

    The Supreme Court Fellows

    For those who want to be at One First Street, but weren’t able to get a clerkship with one of the justices. There are four fellows each year, one at SCOTUS, and the other three at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the Federal Judicial Center, and the United States Sentencing Commission. Candidates need to have a post-graduate degree, not necessarily a J.D., and at least two years of work experience. Applications are due soon: November 11.

    Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Fellowships

    For those interested in the First Amendment and press freedom, this is the fellowship for you. The McCormick Legal Fellowship is designed for more experienced attorneys, while the Jack Nelson and Reporters Committee Legal Fellowships are for 3Ls, recent law school grads, and up. The Reporters Committee looks for applicants with a demonstrated writing ability. They often get applications from lawyers looking to become journalists and vice versa. Deadlines vary but start in February. Salary ranges from $35k to $50k, plus benefits.

    The Skadden Fellowship

    This is a two-year fellowship for those who want to work in public interest law. It’s aimed at law school graduates and outgoing judicial clerks. Applicants find a nonprofit that provides legal services, and Skadden will pay fellows a salary and benefits to work there. Warning: salary is set according to what a legal services attorney would make at the sponsoring organization, so somewhere in the mid 5-figures.

    The Wall Street Journal has some advice for those considering fellowships:

  • To figure out whether pursuing a fellowship is right for you, ask colleague and mentors for their advice.
  • To find the right [fellowship] for you, tap your professional network, academic institutions and mentors to get information on fellowships that might suit you.
  • “Since most programs require you to take a leave from work, make sure you’re up for the commitment. If you are a top performer at work, it will be easier to convince your employer to give you the time off. But keep in mind that your company may decide not to hold your job.”

    We encourage you to debate the wisdom of fellowships, suggest other fellowships, and for former fellows to share their experiences, in the comments.

    Fellowships for Aspiring Law Professors [TaxProf Blog]
    Opening New Doors With a Fellowship [Wall Street Journal]


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