Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowships

The Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship Program supports first- and second-year law students, and third-year students after graduation, from Harvard Law School, New York University School of Law, Stanford Law School, and Yale Law School. The Ford Foundation works with these schools to identify and help develop new leaders in social justice.

Harvard Law School Contact
Joan Ruttenberg, Associate Director, Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising, 617-496-7304


Application Deadlines
: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 5PM
1Ls and 2Ls: Monday, February 23, 2015 at 5PM


Application Deadline TBD

About the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation, established through an initial $25,000 from Edsel Ford, is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental grantmaking organization that works to promote public welfare worldwide. Reflecting its original charter, Ford serves the public by strengthening democratic values, reducing poverty and injustice, promoting international cooperation and advancing human achievement. Ford currently makes grants in all 50 states and, through 10 regional offices around the world, supports programs in more than 50 countries. Over the years, their trustees have been drawn from the United States, Latin America, Africa and Asia and have brought experience in business, government, higher education, law, nonprofit management and the civic sector with a "diversity of approaches and continuity of purpose."

Summer Fellowship Program


Ford Fellows participate in a 10-week summer internship at a Ford grantee organization whose work focuses broadly on legal analysis, litigation, and public policy advocacy. Twenty fellowships will be awarded to Harvard Law School students for summer 2014. 

Working closely with lawyers and advocates, fellows gain exposure to a variety of  practice settings and issue areas including 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. 

In September 2013, the Ford Foundation announced it will extend the Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship program to include post-graduate fellowships. Three post-graduate fellowships will be awarded to Harvard Law School students this year. The post-graduate fellowship supports work with a Ford grantee organization with a base salary of $45,000 and benefits.

The fellowship program is a part of the Ford Foundation's Social Justice Fellowships Initiative. In 2013, the inaugural year of the program, the Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship connected 100 law school students with grantee organizations across the United States and around the world. Ford Fellows will gather in fall 2014 for the second annual Ford Foundation Public Interest Law School Symposium at the Ford Foundation Headquarters in New York.


First- and second-year students are eligible for this fellowship.

Participating Grantee Organizations

Information about the participating Ford Foundation grantee organizations is available through the password-protected website, Contact OPIA at to request the Harvard Law School user name and password.

For a list of all organizations which hosted Ford Fellows in 2014, including the names and class years of each fellow, click here

Want to know where HLS Ford Fellows worked last summer? Download the list here, or see below

Application Requirements

Students should apply online, with a resume and personal statement as well as a list of sponsoring organizations they have applied to.

The online application is available here

Further Information for Applicants

The Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship is an opportunity to work at organizations around the globe and to become involved in a cohort of fellows at HLS and beyond.  

If you apply for the fellowship, be sure that your selected organizations match the kind of work you want to explore during your 1L or 2L summer. Students are encouraged to discuss their interest in the program and their application materials with an OPIA advisor before applying.

For information on how the Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship affects the Student Contribution from Summer Income and Harvard Law School financial aid, please refer to the HLS Student Financial Services website.

Program Requirements

Students selected to participate in the Ford Foundation Law School Fellows participate in activities that enhance their connections with other fellows, and assist in the development of the program.

Activities include a series of required reading and response papers. Fellows also participate in an annual symposium, held at the Ford Foundation in New York, and assist with recruitment of fellows for the following year.

Post-Graduate Fellowships

The Ford Foundation Post-Graduate Fellowship in Public Interest Law will support law school graduates from Harvard Law School, NYU School of Law, Stanford Law School, and Yale Law School. The fellowship funds one year of full-time work at a Ford Foundation grantee organization beginning in fall 2014. 

The fellowship carries a $45,000 stipend. The Ford Foundation will additionally reimburse up to $15,000 of the host organization’s costs for benefits.

Post-Graduate Fellows may join a Ford grantee organization in ordinary staff attorney positions, or work with a Ford grantee organization to develop a feasible one-year project which supports the organization’s mission.

Applicants are responsible for reaching out to the Ford grantee organization where they would like to conduct their fellowship, and securing a Letter of Support by the application deadline.

Grantee Organizations

Information about the participating Ford Foundation grantee organizations is available through the password-protected website, Click here for user name and password.

HLS students may also approach Ford grantee organizations not included in the list above about potential sponsorship.   Note that the organization must be a current Ford grantee. Please speak to Joan Ruttenberg if you are interested in reaching out to a Ford grantee organization not included in the linked list.


Third-year students are eligible for the post-graduate fellowship.

Post-Graduate Fellowship Timeline 


Post-Graduate Fellowship Application Requirements

Applicants must submit:

  • Application Form
  • Personal Statement of no more than 750 words: The personal statement should not restate your resume. Instead, please address the following questions:
    • Why do you want to participate in the Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship program?
    • What do you want to accomplish as a Ford Fellow?
    • Explain how you came to focus on this area of public interest law.
    • What examples of past leadership, or potential for future leadership, make you a competitive candidate for the Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship?
    • Explain the skills and abilities you bring to the sponsoring organization that make you particularly suited to complete this project or work with this organization.
    • What are your aspirations for future public interest work? How will the Ford Fellowship help achieve these goals?
    • If you have developed a one-year project to support the work of the sponsoring organization, please describe the project.
  • Resume
  • Unofficial law school transcript
  • Three letters of recommendation
    • At least one recommendation must be from a HLS faculty member (clinical or podium); at least one recommendation must be from an employer; the third required letter may be from a source of your own choice.
  • Letter of Support from sponsoring grantee organization, including the following information:
    • Name and contact information for supervising attorney, and plan for supervision and training.
    • Description of work or project.
    • Organization’s location and mission.
    • Description of organization’s resources provided for the work or project and the need for a Ford Post-Graduate Fellow.

Post-Graduate Fellowship Application Instructions 


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who is eligible to apply? 
A. Current HLS 3Ls are eligible. Joint-degree students completing their degree by May 2014 are eligible. 

Q. Can a sponsoring organization commit to more than one applicant?  
A. Yes, as long as the organization has the capacity to support, mentor and supervise the fellows it hosts.

Q. When must a fellow begin his/her fellowship?
A. Fellows are expected to begin work the fall after their graduation. Fellows should negotiate a specific start date with their host organization. 

Q. What are the eligible host organizations? 
A. Only Ford Grantee Organizations are eligible to host fellows. Contact Joan Ruttenberg at if you are interested in applying to a grantee organization not listed here.

Q. Who will evaluate my application materials?
A. A committee including HLS professors of law and clinical professors of law will evaluate application materials from HLS students. Finalists selected by the committee will participate in interviews with committee members during the last week of February and the first week of March.

Ford Fellows from Harvard Law School

See Helios for reviews of host organizations by HLS students.

Download a complete list of Ford Fellows from Harvard Law School here

2014-2015 Post-Graduate Fellows 

NameClass YearHost OrganizationLocation
Samuel Weiss2014ACLU Center for JusticeWashington, DC
David Baake2014Natural Resources Defense CouncilWashington, DC
Catherine B. Cooper2014Center for Reproductive RightsNew York, NY


Summer 2014 Fellows

NameClass YearHost OrganizationLocation
Darren Bartlette2016ACLUNew York, NY
Bianca Tylek2016ACLUNew York, NY
Zara Lukens2015American Civil Liberties UnionDurham, NC
Jodie C. Liu2015Brookings Institution, Global Economy and DevelopmentWashington, DC
Katherine Soltis2015Center for Justice and AccountabilitySan Francisco, CA
Kathryn Boulton2015Center for Reproductive RightsNew York, NY
Caroline Sacerdote2015Center for Reproductive RightsNew York, NY
Melanie Botho Emmen2016International Development Law OrganizationRome, Italy
Chike Croslin2016Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under LawWashington, DC
Marian Grove2016Legal Resources CenterCape Town, South Africa
Katrina Fleury2016MALDEFChicago, IL
Hong (Chen-Chen) Jiang2016MALDEFWashington, DC
Torie Atkinson2015NAACP Legal Defense FundNew York, NY
Katie Renzler2016NAACP Legal Defense FundNew York, NY
Rebecca Chang2015National Consumer Law CenterBoston, MA
Francesca Procaccini2015National Consumer Law CenterBoston, MA
Nadia Arid2016National Immigration Law CenterLos Angeles, CA
Daniel Carpenter-Gold2016Natural Resources Defense CouncilBeijing, China
Anna P. Gunderson2015Natural Resources Defense CouncilSan Francisco, CA
Jacob Loup2016Ohio Justice & Policy Center Cincinnati, OH


Summer 2013 Fellows

NameClass YearHost OrganizationLocation
Julina Guo2015Beijing Yilian Legal Aid and Study Center of LaborBeijing, China
Nicole Summers2014Center for Constitutional Rights New York, NY
Ariel Nelson2015Center for Justice and AccountabilitySan Francisco, CA
Ruchi Shah2015Center for Reproductive Rights New York, NY
Meghan Michael2015Human Rights First Washington, D.C.
Sarah Wheaton2014International Commission of JuristsGeneva, Switzerland
Lindsey Kaley2014LatinoJusticeNew York, NY
Elizabeth Floyd2014Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights San Francisco, CA
Melanie Berdecia2015Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund Washington, D.C.
Elizabeth Hadaway2015Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund San Antonio, TX
Sean Hamidi2014National Day Laborer Organizing NetworkLos Angeles, California
Abbey Marr2014National Domestic Workers Alliance San Francisco, CA
Melanie Zuch2014National Economic and Social Rights Initiative New York, NY
Conor Ahern2015National Gay and Lesbian Task ForceWashington, D.C.
Maggie Dunbar2015National Partnership for Women and FamiliesWashington, D.C.
Jenna Prochaska2014Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project New York, NY
Morgan Everhart2015New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial JusticeNew Orleans, LA
Nicholas Pastan2015New Visions for Public SchoolsNew York, NY
Donna Harati2015Ohio Justice & Policy CenterCincinatti, OH
Megumi Tsutsui2014Public AdvocatesSan Francisco, CA
Matthew Nickell2014Public Advocates San Francisco, CA
Adriana Benedict2014Public Citizen Foundation Washington, D.C.
Michael Decker2014Public Citizen Foundation Washington, D.C.
Jean Strout2014Women’s Link WorldwideBogota, Colombia
Maryum Jordan2014Women’s Link Worldwide Madrid, Spain
Last modified: October 06, 2014

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