Yale Law School is committed to providing robust support to students and alumni seeking jobs in public interest law. Our help includes assisting students in identifying and applying for funded positions in public interest organizations and in government, both domestically and internationally. It is because of the Law School’s commitment to both the success of its students and the advancement of public interest that we require fellowship applicants to submit thoughtful, well-developed, and concise applications for funding. To the extent possible, applicants are encouraged to apply for all the fellowships that meet their interests, including those offered by YLS and the University as well as those offered by other organizations, foundations, or firms, as well as for permanent positions.
In order to be considered for the Bernstein (International Human Rights), Liman, Gruber, Robina, Heyman, YPIF and YLJ fellowships, you must complete the Yale Law School Common Application. All other fellowships have descriptions of the application processes on their websites. The 2024 YLS common application will open on January 2, 2024 and close on February 1, 2024 at 11:59pm ET. See also our Instructions for Online YLS Fellowship Applications.
A complete application will comprise the following elements: Depending on the fellowship or fellowships for which you are applying, you may seek funding for either a specific project or a staff position. You should consult the individual fellowship descriptions for further information.
1. Personal statement (500 words maximum) describing your experiences with and commitment to public interest, public service, and/or human rights, aspirations for future work, and the ways in which the fellowship will help achieve your aspirations.
2. Concise summary (1 paragraph) of the proposal that includes the place in which you will work and the goals of the project you will undertake.
3. Proposal (1500 words maximum, 3000 words maximum for Liman application, including footnotes). The proposal should be (a) to pursue a project designed by you in partnership with a sponsoring organization; or (b) to work on an existing project with a host organization. The proposal, whether for a project or a staff position, should not be an essay akin to a substantial or supervised analytic writing, nor is mastery of the area of law expected. Rather, the goal is to explain how you hope to use or change the relevant law or otherwise contribute to the human rights or well-being of others. We ask that you provide sufficient legal, historical, and factual context for us to understand the need you seek to address, the nature of the work you propose, and the impact you intend that work to have.
(a) Project-based: The proposal should address:
1) the problem or need that the project seeks to address;
2) the project's specific goals and how you will meet those goals within the one-year fellowship period (a proposed timetable should be included);
3) a discussion of any relevant background information – legal, historical, factual – necessary to understanding the need for and the goals of your project, as well as any challenges that you anticipate.
Note: For Liman, the project description must reflect how the project would engage with the relevant legal regime and may include an additional 1500 words, for a total of up to 3,000 words in the project description.
(b) Staff positions: The proposal should address:
1) nature of the fellowship position and the organization that will host you;
2) the type of work you expect to do in the fellowship position, including any particular project you intend to carry out; and
3) a discussion of any relevant background information – legal, historical, factual – necessary to understanding the need for and the goals of the fellowship position, as well as any challenges that you anticipate.
4. Statement of other fellowships or public interest positions to which you have applied or plan to apply and, if none, an explanation (for example, a gap year, unusual geographic or project-specific need, and so on). Applying for external funding is not a requirement for receiving a YLS-funded fellowship, but is strongly encouraged, absent extenuating circumstances.
6. Unofficial YLS Transcript.
7. Two letters of recommendation: One from YLS faculty and one from a supervisor or employer.
8. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED: An additional letter of recommendation from YLS faculty. Note: Gruber requires you to submit 3 letters of recommendation. For current students, at least two recommendation letters must be from Yale faculty. Alumni must include at least one Yale faculty recommendation and at least one letter of recommendation from a current or former employer
9. List of people, including current or former fellows, whom you consulted. The purpose of some of the fellowships is to connect you to a field and to learn from people close to it. We, therefore, expect that before you craft a proposal, you have talked to some of those working in the arena. We will provide a list of current and former fellows and their fields so that you may consult with them. We recommend that you discuss the project with 2-4 people in the field, whether on the list we provide or not, who can help you think through it.
10. Letter from the host institution, detailing:
1) the organization's purpose and function;
2) a narrative of the need or problem the project seeks to address,
3) a description of how the fellow’s proposed work fits with the host organization’s activities;
4) a description of the supervision you will receive, including identification of your immediate supervisor;
5) an explanation of the coalition partners and community organizations that the organization works with in this area,
6) the resources that will be provided to support the project (e.g., office space, computer, malpractice and/or other insurance, if needed);
7) a statement addressing the potential for the organization to retain you as a full-time member of the organization’s staff beyond the fellowship year. NOTE: Post-fellowship retention is not a requirement; and
8) Your fellowship host organization must certify compliance with Yale Law School’s Non-Discrimination Policy. For instructions on confirming organization compliance, please click here.