History and Purpose

The Wasserstein Public Interest Fellows Program brings outstanding public interest attorneys to Harvard Law School to counsel students about public service. The Program recognizes exemplary lawyers who have distinguished themselves in public interest work and who can assist students who are considering similar career paths. Public interest is defined broadly to include law-related work for governmental agencies, legal services, prosecutors, public defenders, private public interest law firms, nonprofit organizations and international organizations that provide legal assistance, conduct research, or engage in other activities aimed at advancing the common good.  Please see our list of former Wasserstein Fellows to learn more about the program's history.

Each Wasserstein Fellow spends one to two days on campus meeting individually with Harvard Law students to advise them about public interest career options. The students sign up in advance at OPIA for forty five-minute counseling sessions. In these sessions, Fellows focus on each student’s individual career aspirations and concerns. Prior to the campus visit, each Fellow prepares an informational packet including a brief autobiographical sketch, a description of a “typical” workday, and a description of the Fellow’s organization. Fellows also frequently participate in public speaking engagements, such as lunch meetings with interested student groups, panels discussing their areas of practice, or guest teaching in classes.

Fellows are chosen by a committee appointed by the Dean of the Law School, and their activities are coordinated by OPIA. Each Fellow receives an honorarium of $500 in addition to funding for travel, hotel, and other expenses.

The Public Interest Fellows Program was created in 1990 in honor of Morris Wasserstein through a generous gift from his family.


Guidelines for 2014-2015 Fellows

Fellowship Criteria

The Fellowship Committee seeks applicants who have shown an outstanding dedication to public interest law and have made significant contributions to their fields. The Committee endeavors to select a group of Fellows who reflect the diversity and breadth of public interest experiences, areas of expertise, and geographic locations. In addition, the Committee looks for Fellows who work in practice settings of interest to our students. Most importantly, the Committee seeks Fellows who will enjoy meeting individually with a diverse group of students and who possess personal qualities that will enable them to be effective career counselors.

Most Wasserstein Public Interest Fellows have had at least seven years of public interest experience. Young Wasserstein Public Interest Fellows are attorneys who have been out of law school for three to six years. Young Wasserstein Fellows are selected through the same process and participate in the same activities on campus.

Application Procedures

You may apply to be a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow or Young Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow, or you may nominate someone else for the Fellowship. Application and nomination materials must be sent in by May 1, 2014. You can apply by sending all materials to opia@law.harvard.edu. Applicants are urged to send their application as one document in pdf form. 

For direct applications, please send:

  • A brief personal statement (1-3 pages) discussing your interest in becoming a Fellow.
  • A résumé.
  • Two or three letters of recommendation.
  • Contact information for a law student or younger lawyer whom you have mentored.

For nominations, please send:

  • A statement addressing the nominee’s professional accomplishments and experience mentoring or counseling younger lawyers or law students.
  • The nominee’s résumé.

Please be aware that OPIA may ask nominees to provide additional information for the Fellowship Committee, such as a brief personal statement, letters of recommendation, and contact information for law students or young lawyers whom they have mentored. Therefore, we ask that you inform the nominees that you have nominated them for the Wasserstein Public Interest Fellows Program.

If you wish to reactivate a prior Wasserstein application, please indicate in your personal statement that you are reapplying and the year(s) of your prior application(s) and include an updated resume along with your statement. Finalists may be interviewed by OPIA staff before their names are submitted to the Fellowship Committee.

Please email applications to opia@law.harvard.edu. If you must mail in your application, materials, nominations, and other correspondence should be sent to:

Wasserstein Fellowship Committee
c/o Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising
Harvard Law School
1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Wasserstein Hall, Suite 4039
Cambridge, MA 02138

Applicants can expect to be notified of the final status of their application by late June or early July, 2014.

Questions about the application process should be directed to the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising at opia@law.harvard.edu or (617) 495-3108

Last modified: April 18, 2014

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