About the Fellowship

17 May 2017

New PILnet Fellowship: Lawyering in the Age of Globalization

The application process for the 2017 – 2018 Fellowship is now closed.


PILnet invites recent law graduates and those currently completing relevant degrees in public interest law to apply for fellowships in its NYC offices to begin in Summer 2017.

PILnet unlocks law’s full potential and ensures that the full range of legal expertise is utilized to manage risks and protect the interests of everyone, including the most vulnerable. This fellowship will provide an experiential learning opportunity in a new area of public interest lawyering that takes the techniques that have historically been used to benefit a powerful few and puts them to work for the poor and disenfranchised.

Law in the Age of Globalization

Though the global movement of information, technology, and culture has benefitted the world’s population in many ways, accelerated economic globalization has resulted in severe climate threats, social and economic inequality, and mass migration. PILnet envisions a practical yet powerful way to use public interest lawyering tools to protect those most negatively affected by globalization. This approach to social justice lawyering is a response to the non-traditional, globalized, transnational world we live in and is a departure from, though also a complement to, conventional human rights advocacy and litigation strategies. We believe it not sufficient to seek to hold governments, corporations, or multinational institutions to account for abuses. A “forward-thinking” approach to law seeks to protect the interests of those most negatively affected by globalization—e.g., refugees, workers, and the poor—by managing public interest risks before the abuse, misconduct, or environmental damage happens.

PILnet’s new fellowship offers recent graduates a unique experience to re-envision the very way that effective public interest lawyering can be done in our globalized world. Globalization proceeds from the rise in influence of non-state actors, especially corporations, and the accompanying weakening of sovereign nation states— including the most powerful countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, who are presently in nationalist, protectionist retreat from globalization. Multinational institutions composed of state actors have also proven they lack the will to face threats posed by globalization.

Innovative Lawyering

In this void, corporations—especially multinational corporations—wield significant influence, and their interests have been advanced and protected by private sector lawyers using “transactional” lawyering tools. Transactional lawyering, as distinct from litigation, are those day-to-day activities—such as negotiating, drafting contracts, and helping to structure transactions—that are regularly used by private lawyers to serve the sole interests of private clients. For example, a community facing loss of its land or threats to its environment needs the same kind of sophisticated legal help in scrutinizing contracts, budgets, and regulations as the multinational corporation that may be on the other side of the transaction.

Fellows at PILnet will acquire the skills to adopt the private sector’s transactional lawyering tools, but rather than put them to use to advance the interests of a powerful few, they will put them to work for the poor, the disenfranchised, and the excluded.

The Fellowship

Over more than a decade, PILnet has developed a broad global pro bono network of law firms, involving them in litigation, research, and institutional support for NGOs in Europe, Asia, Eurasia, and the Middle East/North Africa. This program will provide fellows an opportunity to benefit from this network and to innovate alongside PILnet and private sector lawyers to ensure the tools typically exploited by private clients are made available to serve the interests of poor and underserved clients.

The fellowship program will include experiential learning in developing transactional lawyering approaches to public interest matters, complemented by workshops and classroom-style training carried out by leading legal academics and practitioners. In the fellowship’s inaugural year, PILnet is seeking a strong first class to take part and help us refine the curriculum.

Application Information

The ideal candidate is a public interest advocate and recent graduate of a relevant academic legal program, such as an LLM or JD. The length of the fellowship is flexible, up to one year.

Candidates with independent funding are encouraged to apply. Organizational funding for other candidates is currently being sought. Applications should have the necessary visa requirements or should be able to obtain them.

The application process for the 2017 – 2018 Fellowship is now closed. Please check back for further announcements for next year’s recruitment. 

Answers to frequently asked questions about the Fellowship can be found here.