PILnet invites recent graduates in public interest law and related fields to apply for the 2020 PILnet Fellowship program.

PILnet is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that creates opportunities for social change by unlocking law’s full potential. With offices in New York, Hong Kong, and Budapest, PILnet aims to reclaim and reimagine the role of law, so that it works for the benefit of all. It does so by building networks and collaborations of public and private sector lawyers who understand how law works when it serves the interests of the privileged and then it uses that knowledge to serve the public interest and strengthen civil society. The PILnet Fellowship program provides an experiential learning opportunity in an emerging area of public interest law that takes the techniques that have historically been used to benefit a powerful few and puts them to work for the all of society.

Lawyering in the Age of Globalization

We live in a rapidly changing world. Accelerated economic globalization, climate change, closing space for civil society and increased socio-economic inequality have brought about unprecedented legal needs among society’s most vulnerable populations. PILnet envisions a practical yet powerful way to reframe corporate law to address contemporary public interest problems. In addition to holding governments, corporations, or multinational institutions accountable for abuses, a forward-thinking approach that manages public interest risks before they materialize into rights violations is required. Large multinational corporations wield significant influence, and their interests have been advanced and protected by private sector lawyers using corporate law. Transactional lawyering includes negotiating, drafting contracts, and helping to structure transactions—methods typically used by private lawyers to further the interests of their clients. These tools can also be used to advance the public interest. At a time when traditional rights-based approaches are being challenged more than ever, corporate lawyering tools can provide public interest lawyers with a new approach to advancing the public good.

PILnet’s fellowship offers recent graduates a unique opportunity to re-envision the very way that effective public interest lawyering can be done in our globalized world. The fellowship aims to train and equip a new generation of public interest lawyers who are capable of using an expanded legal toolbox. Fellows at PILnet will develop ways of using private sector legal expertise to advance the interests of civil society and the communities they serve.

PILnet's Network

PILnet’s network

Over more than twenty years, PILnet has developed a global pro bono network of law firms, including a network of more than 150 fellow alumni, involving them in litigation, research, and institutional support for NGOs in Europe, Asia, Eurasia, and Africa. Fellows will have the opportunity to tap into this network and find innovative legal solutions to public interest problems alongside PILnet staff.

The fellowship 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. Fellows will contribute to the development of pro bono by supporting civil society through PILnet’s Global Pro Bono Clearinghouse, an access-to-justice intermediary between civil society and lawyers who are able and prepared to assist them. Fellows will consult with organizations, draft their intake requests, conduct legal research, liaise with law firm partners, and facilitate PILnet’s role as a strategic link between public and private sectors. PILnet fellows will use the concepts and ideas they learned from the experiential learning program to inject innovative solutions to traditional human rights problems into the matchmaking process to enable NGOs and CSOs access justice globally.

Innovative Fellowship

Fellows will join PILnet in July in residence at its New York City office receiving a series of in-house and external trainings. Fellows will learn to do what PILnet does best – identify and mobilize private sector legal expertise for the public good. Fellows will receive transactional lawyering training from corporate lawyers on the range of skills they use when advising their clients, like risk management, negotiation, and compliance. Further topics covered by trainings and workshops given by PILnet’s partners from law firms, corporations, NGOs, and leading academic universities may include, but are not limited to: business and human rights, impact financing for social change, management and leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship, new business models for NGOs, and technology and human rights. Midway through the fellowship, fellows will attend PILnet’s Global Forum where they will have the unique opportunity to see PILnet’s network in action and forge partnerships with and learn from over 300 leading activists, academics, pro bono professionals, and public interest law champions from around the world all working in benefit of the public interest. Fellows will have the opportunity to interview esteemed participants and plan sessions in their field of interest. Thereafter, fellows may be placed at one of PILnet’s field offices in Hong Kong or Budapest to implement projects on the ground.

Application Information

The ideal candidate is a public interest advocate and recent graduate of a relevant academic legal program, such as an LL.M. or JD. The length of the fellowship is up to 6 months, with 3 months spent at PILnet’s New York City office and the option to spend an additional 3 months in a field office. Candidates from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and those with independent funding are encouraged to apply.

To apply, please email the following application materials to PILnet.

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Writing sample (no more than 5 pages, unedited)

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all positions are filled.