About the Fellowship

01 March 2013

How to Apply

The application process begins with a call for applications, which outlines selection criteria and encourages public interest lawyers from a number of countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa to apply before the March deadline. Nominating NGOs in the applicants’ home countries submit letters of support to ensure that Fellows will have a platform from which to implement their projects when they return home at the end of the fellowship. The review process of applications begins with a panel of former PILnet Fellows assessing a select number of candidates. These reviews are based off of carefully constructed criteria, which allow for objective identification of the most qualified applicants. The selection committee then makes its final decisions, and successful applicants receive their fellowship invitations in May. You may download the application from here. Please contact Beth Miller if you have any questions. You also may explore the PILnet Fellows' work before applying.

Academic Instruction

The Fellowship begins with a non-degree granting semester at Columbia Law School, where Fellows audit law and human rights courses and participate in skills training and networking. Fellows study comparative aspects of the US legal system in a course specifically tailored to foreign lawyers and select other courses related to their projects and interests. The capstone academic experience of the Fellowship is their participation in Human Rights, Law and Development, a course taught by PILnet’s executive director, Edwin Rekosh. This course is designed as a project incubation workshop, during which Fellows develop legal projects that will have a deep social impact on their local communities.

Professional Development

Beyond their coursework, Fellows get involved in an active community of civil society organizations in New York, Washington, D.C., and various European cities through visits, presentations and seminars. Fellows have the opportunity to enhance their projects by leveraging the highest quality legal research provided by law firms and made available through PILnet’s Global Pro Bono Clearinghouse, which pairs volunteer lawyers with nonprofit organizations that need legal assistance. The academic semester is complemented by a two-month internship that offers Fellows hands-on experience at human rights, legal services, or public interest advocacy organizations in New York.

Comparative Experience

In addition to their time in New York, Fellows spend two weeks visiting various European cities to gain a comparative perspective on public interest advocacy in Europe. Fellows conduct site visits to a variety of institutions in the UK and other European countries, including NGOs, courts, and government offices.

Global Impact

PILnet Fellows demonstrate tremendous variety in their specific goals, though they share the aim of using the law to deliver justice and protect rights. Fellows have initiated unprecedented litigation strengthening economic and social rights, have advanced policy reform in the areas of environmental protection and civil liberties, and have developed innovative programs to provide legal aid to the vulnerable.