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Frequently Asked Questions

Q:Are there any projects Equal Justice Works will not fund?

A: Generally speaking, Equal Justice Works seeks a diverse group of projects addressing issues in a broad variety of substantive areas and locations. There are, however, a few caveats:

  • Equal Justice Works will only fund projects that target a population located in the United States and/or its territories.
  • Equal Justice Works will not fund a general staff attorney position within an existing organization. The Fellowships program is intended to create new public interest positions for lawyers committed to developing and leading innovative social justice projects.
  • Equal Justice Works will not fund projects proposing routine criminal defense work. Projects centered on indigent criminal defense should focus on innovative services, support or delivery mechanisms that are not adequately funded by the government or that are designed to impact broad criminal justice issues. For example, Equal Justice Works has funded projects involving death penalty work, preventive strategies, and systemic issues such as sentencing, alternatives to incarceration and concerns of special populations.

 

Q: I am looking for an organization to host me and heard there are many organizations actively seeking candidates. Is there a way to find a list of those organizations?

A: Equal Justice Works does not have a list of all organizations seeking candidates to partner on a Fellowship proposal. However, many organizations utilize PSJD.org (Public Service Jobs Directory) to find candidates. When searching, ensure you use the following Advanced Find criterion: Search for "Job Postings", Job Type is "Legal: Project-Based (e.g., Skadden)." Although PSJD is the most commonly used, organizations may also use the NLADA Job Board or Idealist for fellowship solicitation. Please also reach out to your law school public interest or career services office for assistance. If an organization has not posted a position, you may want to email the staff member responsible for recruiting to discuss the possibility of applying for the Fellowship together. 

 

Q: How do I know if my law school is a member of the Equal Justice Works network?

A: Your law school must be a member of our network at the time you submit the application in order to be considered for funding. Equal Justice Works is proudly affiliated with a significant number of law schools located around the country. Please visit our Member Schools list for the most up-to-date listing of participating law schools. 

 

Q: What role do GPA, class rank, or grades play in the application process?

A: Unlike many Fellowship programs, Equal Justice Works does not require transcripts, class ranks, or GPAs in the application. Equal Justice Works is committed to providing passionate advocates with the opportunity to serve their communities and does not rely on traditional metrics such as those above to determine suitability for the Fellowship. 

 

Q: I was recently hired as a public interest staff attorney but will only have been in the position a few months when I apply. Am I eligible?

A: Equal Justice Works Fellowships are designed to create new public interest legal positions and launch new public interest careers. An individual who has worked as a full-time, permanent public interest attorney for any length of time may not be selected as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. Summer internships, gap/bridge fellowships, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellowships, clerkships, work-study positions and other part-time, contract-based positions do not fall under this restriction.

 

Q: Can a law school clinic serve as a host organization?

A: Yes. Law school clinics can and do serve as host organizations on a routine basis. Check out the list of current host organizations for examples.

 

Q: Can your recommendation letters come from your proposed host organization?

A: Yes. Equal Justice Works requires two letters of recommendation to be submitted with the application. If you interned or volunteered with the organization previously, you may use your supervisor as a letter writer as they may be the person most equipped to speak to your work ethic and passion for the organization and communities you propose to serve. 

 

Q: I have found an organization to host me, but they do not have anyone on site to supervise the project. Am I eligible?

A: Your host organization must be capable of providing legal supervision for your project. While most successful projects incorporate on-site legal expertise in the form of a supervisor, some projects utilize remote supervision structures to provide substantive legal expertise. Remote supervision must be consistent, regular, established as a standard supervision method within the organization, and conducive to supporting the goals of the project. 

 

Q: Are there any locations or issue areas that are more likely to be funded?

A: Equal Justice Works recruits law firms, corporations, bar associations, foundations and individuals that partner with us to fund the Fellowships. These funding partners are referred to as "sponsors." We encourage our sponsors to establish relationships with their Fellows from the beginning of the process throughout the Fellowship term. To facilitate that process, many sponsors provide us with geographic or issue preferences for their Fellowships and then participate in the interviews. However, many sponsors do not have geographic or issue area preferences and projects anywhere in the nation are eligible for the program. A list of current sponsor preferences can be found here.

 

Q: Does Equal Justice Works prioritize particular substantive issues (e.g. domestic violence v. environment) or strategies (e.g. community education v. litigation)?

A: Equal Justice Works considers a wide variety of issue areas. Preference will be given to projects that are designed to impact a large number of people or produce deep and life-changing results for a small community, create programs that can be replicated in other communities, or create lasting institutions or programs. Please do note candidates and host organizations are encouraged to review the sponsor geographic and issue area preferences before submitting an application.

 

Q: Can organizations apply for more than one Equal Justice Works Fellow in a given year?

A: Yes. Host Orgnizations may submit applications with as many different projects and candidates as they are prepared to support, in the event all proposals are funded. Given the intensity of the Fellowship competition, it is unusual for multiple Fellowships to be funded at a single host organization. Additinally, organizations may host Fellows in different class year simultaneously.

 

Q: Can I be hosted by two separate organizations?

A: No. An Equal Justice Works Fellow may only be hosted by one organization and that organization will be the Fellow's employer and signatory on all Fellowship materials. However, Fellows and their host organizations are encouraged to collaborate with other organizations and form community partnerships that promote the goals of the project.

 

Q: Can a candidate submit more that one application?

A: No. Candidates may only submit one application per Fellowship cycle. However, candidates may apply in the next cycle with a new or repeat host organization and project, should they still meet all eligibility requirements at that time. 

 

Q: An elected official is very interested in hosting my project. Can office holders host Equal Justice Works Fellows?

A: No. Elected official offices may not serve as hosts. All host organizations must be non-profits registered with the IRS. However, you may identify a nonprofit host organization and design your project to collaborate closely with the elected official's office. You are advised to consult with your prospective host organization in this regard, as nonprofits have stringent restrictions on their lobbying activities.

 

Q: Are there any restrictions on the types of activities in which a Fellow may engage?

A: In general, Equal Justice Works does not impose restrictions on the types of legal activities in which Fellows may engage, beyond requiring the Fellow to work on the project as proposed in the application. However, Fellows are employees of their host organizations; therefore host organizations that must abide by Legal Services Corporation, Internal Revenue Service or other restrictions are responsible for determining how those restrictions apply to the Fellow and their project.

 

Q: I am not a recent law school graduate, but I am interested in your fellowship program. Is it too late for me to apply?

A: There is no year requirement on "recent graduate," although Equal Justice Works strives to launch new public interest careers. Individuals transitioning from the private sector to public interest for the first time are encouraged to apply. Note, however, that there is a restriction on individuals who have held a full-time, permanent public interest attorney position and those who have previously participated in another major fellowship program. Equal Justice Works strongly encourages applications from candidates reflecting diverse cultural and experiential backgrounds; people with disabilities; people of diverse ethnic, racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds; work experience; national origin; sexual orientation; gender identity and expression; and age.

 

Q: When can I view the 2018 Equal Justice Works Fellowships application, and when do I have to submit it?

A: The application is available now. Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to create a profile and draft an application well in advance of the September deadline to get a sense for how the online application form works. Online drafts can be saved and updated on an ongoing basis until the deadline. The entire application must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. ET on September 27, 2016. 

 

Q: When will I know if I have been invited to interview?

A: Equal Justice Works will contact semifinalists from December through April set up interviews. Candidates may be invited to multiple interviews with different sponsors throughout the selection process.  

 

Q: Where will interviews be conducted? Will I be reimbursed for travel expenses?

A: Interviews will take place across the country between December and April. Each interview location depends upon the sponsor and Equal Justice Works staff logistics. For instance, a sponsor with offices in New York may choose to interview all semifinalists in New York. Some sponsors may choose to use videoconferencing technology to interview remote candidates. Equal Justice Works will make an effort to conduct interviews via video if the candidates is not able to appear in person, but Equal Justice Works will not cover travel expenses, if incurred.

 

Q: What will I be asked at the interview? How can I prepare?

A: Although there is no set interview format, we recommend that semifinalists practice answering generic interview questions with their prospective host organizations in preparation for the interview. Interviewees should know the proposal very well, be familiar with the proposed service area and any other legal services provided in that area, arrive at the interview location 15 minutes early, wearing business attire. Equal Justice Works will provide sample questions and encourages all applicants to participate in a mock interview at your law school before appearing at the interview with sponsors. If selected to interview, this is your opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of and enthusiasm for the proposed project. Above all, just be yourself! 

 

Q: Who can I contact at Equal Justice Works to check on the status of my application?

A: We send out periodic updates via email indicating whether a proposal is still under consideration or has been declined for further review. We will call all candidates who are selected to interview. Candidates should notify Equal Justice Works at Fellowships@equaljusticeworks.org if they have competing employment offers or wish to withdraw their application. 

 

Q: How does the Equal Justice Works loan repayment assistance program work?

A: Equal Justice Works provides loan repayment assistance to Fellows who qualify through its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). The amount of assistance a Fellow will receive is based upon the Income Based Repayment (IBR) amount on federally guaranteed loans and is capped at a maximum of $5,000 annually. Fellows must take advantage of other LRAP programs fro which they are eligible before applying to the Equal Justice Works LRAP. Disbursements begin September of the year the Fellowship commences. 

 

Q: If I become a Fellow, what will be expected of me from my sponsor?

A: The relationship you have with your sponsor is an important one. Equal Justice Works' staff facilitates this relationship and will assist you throughout your Fellowship. You may be asked to present to the sponsor's attorneys , attend special events, develop pro bono projects, and prepare written updates. Equal Justice Works provides each Fellow with a personal staff contact who will help facilitate the relationship between the Fellow and their sponsor.

 

Q: The host organization I want to work with pays lawyers with my experience $52,000 a year, but I see that Equal Justice Works will only contribute up to $50,000 a year for my salary. Where does the other $2,000 come from?

A: All Equal Justice Works Fellows' host organizations submit a Certification Form with the application and subsequently execute a Memorandum of Agreement agreeing to pay Fellows a salary commensurate to what an attorney with similar experience and responsibility that is a full-time permanent employee of the host organization would be paid. Any salary costs over the Equal Justice Works contribution of $50,000 a year-- $2,000 in the example -- must be paid by the host organization.

 

Q: I want to apply for a fellowship but am also interested in clerkships. Will Equal Justice Works defer an offer?

A: Once you accept an Equal Justice Works Fellowship offer, it may not be deferred. However, you may reapply to Equal Justice Works in the final year of your clerkship.