Chayes International Public Service Fellowship: Information for Placement Organizations

Fellowship Program Description

The Chayes Fellowship Program provides Harvard Law School students with the opportunity to spend 8 weeks in the summer engaged in international public service within governments of developing nations and those making difficult transitions to peace, stability and democracy, as well as the inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations that support these efforts. The program not only allows a cadre of Harvard Law School students to offer their skills to governments and organizations undertaking critical work, but also provides students with practical, first-hand experience with the complex issues faced by societies in development or transition. Since Chayes Fellowships are international in nature, it is expected that most placements will be with organizations based outside of the United States. However, in some cases it will be acceptable for a Fellow to work in the U.S. if the placement is with an organization that has an international scope, such as the United Nations or the World Bank.

The exact nature of the Chayes Fellows’ projects may vary, but could include work in the areas of constitutional and legal issues in emerging democracies, reconstruction of war-torn societies, or development of political, social and economic institutions, among others. Past placements have included such organizations as: the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense in Colombia, the Legal Assistance Center in Namibia, and the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Chayes Fellows have also been involved in such work as juvenile justice system reform in China, property rights legislation in Kosovo, natural resources law in Mongolia, maternal mortality and reproductive rights in Indonesia, and an assessment project related to United Nations peacekeeping missions. Specific projects for recent Chayes Fellows have included:

  • writing a memo as part of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on the legality of prolonged pre-trial detention for two alleged Khmer Rouge leaders
  • developing curriculum for a course on strategies for advancing women's rights in Latin America
  • drafting motions to keep restraining orders over the assets of individuals currently being prosecuted for fraud in South Africa
  • crafting a substantial study on User Created Content as part of a technology initiative for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • developing a burden-shifting rule for cases involving the use of extreme force at the Inter-American Court
  • writing a memo on implementing legislation after the completion of the constitutional process in Nepal
  • drafting a shareholder’s agreement to govern the African Development Bank’s equity participation in the capital of a major African regional bank
  • researching the laws and conventions governing repatriation of victims of cross-border sex trafficking and the conventions that govern embassies and consulates
  • assessing the design of a Colombian land restitution program against certain international standards
  • developing a right to work campaign on behalf of urban refugees in Tanzania

Summaries of past projects and a list of past Fellows and placements are available here.

This Fellowship is also designed to serve as a bridge between theory and practice and to increase the Fellows’ understanding of the wide spectrum of work that can benefit from the participation of individuals with legal training. The Chayes Fellows, who will have completed at least one year at Harvard Law School before their summer placement begins, become part of a global network of academics and practitioners who are developing and implementing mechanisms to effect positive change in a variety of ways.

The Chayes Fellowship program is co-administered by Harvard Law School’s International Legal Studies and the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising (OPIA).

Placement Parameters

Beginning in the fall, students who are interested in the Chayes Fellowship program may explore a number of options in order to secure an approved placement.

  1. The Chayes Fellowship Program will provide a regularly updated list of pre-approved placement organizations that are interested in hosting a Chayes Fellow for the summer whose interests and skills match the needs of the organization. These authorized placement organizations, which will be listed on the Program’s website and in a binder in the OPIA office, will be screened to ensure that the proposed placement meets the Chayes Program’s requirements.
  2. Harvard Law School students who are interested in working with organizations that are not on the roster of authorized placements are encouraged to inquire with OPIA or the Chayes Fellowship Program about registering organizations as Chayes Fellowship placement sites. Potential placement organizations are asked to complete and submit a placement form to the Chayes Fellowship Program for final approval of the placement.

Organizations interested in publicizing their willingness to host a Chayes Fellow should submit placement forms to the Chayes Program starting in October, but no later than February 1. While it is often difficult to know details of particular projects months in advance, organizations are more likely to receive pre-approval as potential Chayes placements when they have articulated details of the role and responsibilities they anticipate a Fellow will be assigned as part of projects that fall within the Chayes mandate. In completing the placement form, organizations should focus on the student’s role within a particular project(s) and provide as much detail as possible about the type of work in which the student will be engaged. At minimum, the “Description of Proposed Project for Chayes Fellow” section of the placement form should include: 1) a brief overview of the project; 2) an explanation of the Chayes Fellow’s role in the project; and 3) a description of the specific responsibilities and duties that the Chayes Fellow will be assigned. Between November and March, students should be in contact with prospective placement organizations to discuss the nature of the summer work, present their qualifications, and try to secure a firm offer of a position.

Chayes Fellows receive a modest stipend from Harvard Law School designed to cover travel and living expenses for the summer. Fellows are provided at no cost to the placement organizations, but the Chayes Fellows program cannot cover any expenses incurred by placement organizations, including any in-country professional travel that may be required by the internship.

While the placement organizations have no financial obligations, they are required to ensure that the Fellows will be well utilized and given opportunities both to learn about and to contribute substantively to the work of the organization. Specifically, placement organizations should agree to do the following:

  • communicate with Harvard law students applying for a placement and select the student(s) most suitable for placement in their organization by March 31
  • ensure that the duration of the summer Fellowship is at least 8 weeks (full-time)
  • determine the Fellow’s particular responsibilities and project(s) in advance of the beginning of the summer
  • send a letter to the accepted student and Harvard Law School confirming the placement
  • provide direction, supervision and feedback to the Fellow during the course of the summer (a few weeks after the placement begins someone from the Chayes program will call the Fellow’s supervisor to answer questions and address any concerns on the part of the placement organization)
  • incorporate the summer Fellow into the environment and activities of the placement organization

While it is understood that many organizations are understaffed and that even the most engaging and critical work often has an administrative component, it is expected that Chayes Fellows will participate in substantive law-related projects rather than simply tasks of a clerical nature. As well, it is hoped that Chayes Fellows will have an opportunity to work on a project that will result in some sort of written product.

Some Fellowships may include projects and/or research that the Fellow will conduct in the semester preceding or following the summer placement. These additional projects, which will have a small stipend, will be coordinated with the Chayes Program or individual Harvard Law School faculty members.

Procedure and Timeline

The Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising will publicize the availability of the Fellowship and cultivate interest. The Chayes Fellowship Program will identify placement organizations on an ongoing basis and manage the application process. Applicants will be chosen by a Fellowship Selection Committee which includes Harvard Law School faculty members and staff of OPIA and the Chayes Program. The Selection Committee will review the applications in order to choose the most qualified candidates, who will then be offered Fellowships contingent upon securing an approved placement. The timeline for the summer Fellowships is as follows:

  • November 1 – Preliminary list of approved placement organizations is made available to Harvard Law School students. Students may begin to make contact with these and other potential placement organizations in order to explore whether there is a fit between the student’s interests and skills and the organization’s needs.
  • February 1 – Applications for the Chayes Fellowship are due to the Chayes Fellowship Program.
  • March 1 – Notification of Fellowship selections is sent to applicants. Final award of the Fellowship will be contingent upon the student securing an approved placement.
  • March 31 – Deadline for accepted Chayes Fellows to secure approved placement and make firm commitment to program.
  • April – May - Final arrangements are made regarding stipends. During this period students will arrange their own travel and housing for the summer. Mandatory briefing and training sessions will also take place during this period.

Contact Information

For further information, potential placement organizations may contact:

Sara Zucker
Director, International Legal Studies
Wasserstein Hall, Suite 5005
Harvard Law School
Cambridge, MA 02138
+1 (617) 495-9030 (tel)
+1 (617) 496-9179 (fax)
szucker@law.harvard.edu (e-mail)

Last modified: September 19, 2014

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