2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

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Opportunities

Design-Your-Own Fellowship

Through the Design-Your-Own Fellowship program, Equal Justice Works seeks to create opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service. Equal Justice Works Fellows work to ensure equal access to justice and address unmet legal needs among underserved populations across the country.  

We are committed to elevating the diverse experiences, backgrounds, and skills of those committed to public interest careers: Equal Justice Works values program participants who are diverse in many respects and, in this diversity, can understand and empower the communities with whom and where they work in new ways.  

The 2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship application is now open! Apply by 11:59 p.m. ET/8:59 p.m. PT on September 10, 2024.

Fellowship Overview & Benefits

  • Forge your own path by designing a project that addresses an issue and community you care most passionately about serving
  • Partner with the organization of your choice to propose an innovative legal project
  • Two-year Fellowship term
  • Up to $63,500 in salary support provided to the host organization each year (salary determined jointly between host organization and Fellow and to be no less than that of a similarly qualified and experienced lawyer at the organization)
  • Health insurance, fringe benefits, and up to $5,000 in loan repayment assistance
  • Each fall, join all current Equal Justice Works Fellows in Washington, D.C. for the Leadership Development Training, a three-day training and networking event

2025 applications now open!

Apply now

Apply by September 10, 2024

Quick Facts


  • 85% of Equal Justice Works Fellows remain in public service positions following their Fellowships
  • 70+ new Design-Your-Own Fellows join the Equal Justice Works community each year
  • Thanks to the incredible work of Fellows, more people have access to critical legal services and we have more thriving communities. Ernest LaMont Greer
    Co-President
    Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • 297 clients served, on average, by an Equal Justice Works Fellow over the course of their project

Still have questions? Email us at
[email protected]

1 Prepare to Apply

View resources and information

Before you start your application, we encourage you to review our Applicant Guide. It includes suggestions for partnering with a Host Organization, creating a competitive application, the eligibility criteria for Fellows, Host Organizations and projects, and more.  

We encourage you to submit your application before the deadline to ensure successful submission. Extensions will not be granted; please plan accordingly. 

If you have any questions about the application’s content, please contact Equal Justice Works at [email protected] 

2025 Applicant Guide 2025 Host Organization Guide

2 Check Your Eligibility

All applicants must…

  • Graduate from an Equal Justice Works Member Law School prior to September 2025
  • Not have held a full-time, permanent, public interest lawyer position previously, including any other major legal fellowship. Applicants coming from bridge/gap fellowships or clerkships, other Equal Justice Works Fellowship Programs, or the private sector are eligible to apply
  • Partner with an eligible legal services organization and work collaboratively on the project design
  • Design an innovative project that addresses an unmet legal need in an underserved community

3 Identify the Issue

Identify the issues that resonate with your passions, your goals, and the needs of your community

Design-Your-Own Fellows address a broad array of pressing legal issues, from family law and community economic development to LGBTQ+ rights and immigration. Though the list if not exhaustive, browsing Fellow profiles to see what issues other Design-Your-Own Fellows are addressing through their work is a great starting point.

Prospective sponsors also share information about their preferred issue areas and service locations. Check out our Sponsor Preferences document for best results.

Meet Our Fellows

View all

Caitlin Aladham
Headshot of Caitlin H Aladham

Caitlin Aladham

Hosted by
Legal Action of Wisconsin

Sponsored by
Wm. Collins Kohler Foundation

Ben Gleekel
Headshot of Ben Gleekel

Ben Gleekel

Hosted by
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

Sponsored by
3M Company, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath

Allison “Ali” Rubinfeld
Headshot of Allison Rubinfeld

Criminal Legal System Reform

Allison “Ali” Rubinfeld

Hosted by
Loyola Anti-Racism Center

Sponsored by
Anonymous

4 Find Your Host Organization

Equal Justice Works does not match Fellows with their host organizations; rather, Fellowship candidates and organizations work together to design the project and complete the application. Candidates may find prospective host organizations in many ways:

  • Contact organizations where you have previously interned
  • Search job boards and directories like the Public Service Jobs Directory (PSJD), the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), Idealist, and your law school’s career services office
  • Follow Equal Justice Works on Twitter and LinkedIn, where we regularly share organizations’ calls for Fellowship applications

You can also view past and present hosts to get an idea of eligible organizations in your area. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of organizations that are eligible or currently seeking Fellowship candidates.

View Host Organizations

5 Design the Fellowship

Work with your host organization to design your Fellowship

Our top tips for an excellent Fellowship proposal:

  • Paint a picture of the specific issue and community your work will address, weaving in both data and personal stories
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the target community by building in opportunities for collaboration with existing groups into your proposal.
  • Consider whether the project will make a real difference in the issue area, and make sure the proposed strategies are attainable
  • Fellowship projects are meant to impact a large number of people through the implementation of an innovative program-consider the sustainability of the project beyond the Fellowship term

Next Steps

After you apply…

After you submit your application, it will be reviewed by Fellow Alumni. High-scoring applications are selected to interview with sponsors between November and April. Fellowships are awarded on a rolling basis throughout this period.

After the Fellowship

Connect with Our Alumni Network

After successfully completing your commitment as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, you become an alum of the organization. You’ll be joining a network of 2,000+ passionate public interest lawyers continuing to work as key contributors to our shared vision of achieving our nation’s promise of equal justice for all.

Learn More

Images on this page depict 2012 Fellow Cynthia Cornelius at her former host organization, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, where she now serves as Director of Client and Community Services.

Additional Information

Accommodations
Applicant-Host Organization Collaboration
Technical Questions?
Interested in hosting a Design-Your-Own Fellow?

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Get Help Managing Your Student Debt

For many law school graduates, student debt is the single largest barrier to pursuing a career in public interest law. View our Student Debt Resources to learn more about managing your debt load.

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