Fellowships & Internships
The Public Interest Law Foundation Grant Program enables Tulane law students to explore careers in public interest law. It provides financial support for summer internships which would otherwise be unpaid. Students are eligible for the Grant Program if they commit to work in the public interest for six to twelve weeks in legal positions representing individuals, causes, or organizations that suffer from a lack of adequate legal representation.
Each year PILF distributes approximately thirty grants with an average grant amount of $2,000, which covers basic food and housing expenses. PILF members raise money throughout the school year through a variety of fundraisers, including the Annual PILF Auction and the daily PILF Coffee Table located in the main entrance hall of the law school. The law school provides additional financial support for the summer grants. Between 2005 and 2009, there were 109 PILF grant recipients that worked at eighty-nine organizations located across the United States and the world.
Summer Internship Opportunities
In addition to PILF Grants, students who are interested in pursuing unpaid public interest summer internships may obtain funding from a variety of other sources. Equal Justice Works and Equal Justice America are just two examples of the additional funding sources that Tulane students have utilized to assist with living and other expenses during their summer public interest service. Eligibility for public interest summer grants typically requires students to work full time for nonprofit organizations serving low-income or underserved communities; state, county, or nonprofit public defender offices; legal aid organizations; or civil rights organizations. Tulane Law students have received summer grants to pursue public interest legal internships at a variety of organizations across the country and around the world. A few of the many public interest organizations to which Tulane Law students have recently dedicated their summers include: Southern Environmental Law Center, Farm Sanctuary, Orleans Public Defenders Office, National Health Law Program, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Innocence Project, the ACLU, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Environmental Law Foundation, World Organization for Human Rights, Legal Aid Board of South Africa, United Nations Thailand, and the Document Center of Cambodia.
Judicial internships are generally unpaid, volunteer positions, either part-time or full-time during the summer. Law students may serve as interns in a judge’s chambers after the first or second year of law school. Each summer approximately 50-60 first and second-year Tulane Law students work as judicial interns for federal and state court judges at a variety of courts across the United States. Each fall, the Career Development Office hosts a panel of second and third year students who have worked as summer judicial interns to educate the 1Ls on the process for obtaining judicial internships, the duties of an intern, and the benefits of the internship. The CDO also keeps a database of judges who have hired Tulane Law students as interns in the past, as well as a list of Tulane Law alumni judges, for use in obtaining judicial internships.
More information on Tulane Law School's Judicial Internship Program
Post-graduate fellowships are limited term opportunities for newer legal professionals to gain direct experience in a specific area of the law through practice, advocacy, or teaching. Fellowships typically exist for the purpose of fulfilling a specific project or mission and are characterized by a high degree of individual responsibility. There are two main types of fellowships: project-based fellowships and organization-based fellowships. Project-based fellowships are opportunities in which fellows are housed with a host 501(c)(3) organization for the purpose of completing a very specific project, but are funded directly through a third party. Examples of project-based fellowships include the Equal Justice Works Fellowship and the Skadden Fellowship. Organization-based fellowships differ insofar as fellows are funded directly through the host organization, despite the fact that the funds may be donated by a third party for purposes of establishing a fellowship. Examples of organization-based fellowships include the ACLU Fellowship and the Georgetown Clinical Teaching Fellowship.
In addition to participating in a wide variety of project-based and organization-based fellowships, Tulane Law graduates have also participated in government fellowship programs such as the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship ("PMF") program. The PMF program is characterized by a highly competitive application and screening process and also requires nomination by a committee of Tulane Law School faculty. The PMF program is a multi-disciplinary program that enables students who are interested in federal government work to rotate through a variety of federal agencies during the tenure of the fellowship.