Students Offer a Window into Liman Summer Fellowships

A student standing on a large rug holds a microphone while speaking to a room full of people sitting on sofas and lounge chairs.tting on s
A student talks about her Liman summer fellowship to a group at Davenport College.

In November, dozens of Yale undergraduate students gathered in the Davenport College Common Room for the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law’s annual Summer Fellowship information session. Davenport Head of the College Anjelica Gonzalez, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the Faculty Director of Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking, hosted the event. Students got a brief history of the program from Arthur Liman Professor of Law Judith Resnik, while Liman Center Director Jennifer Taylor explained about applications.

“We want you to start the process of thinking about what you're interested in and identify it, and I'm always available to offer ideas and to help make a connection and introduction,” Taylor said.

Liman summer fellowships give undergraduate students at Yale College and seven other schools the opportunity to work for eight to 10 weeks at public interest organizations related to law. Public interest law includes direct services as well as advocacy and policy work. (Yearlong Liman law fellowships are for Yale Law School graduates.)

Fifteen students who had held summer fellowships talked about their experiences working on an array of issues, including criminal law enforcement, immigration, environmental policy, access to childcare, housing, and more.

Naina Agrawal-Hardin, a Yale College junior, interned at the Center for Human Rights & Global Justice based at NYU Law School. Her summer focused on how to lessen the damage caused by climate change and whether frontline communities ought to be given reparations. Agrawal-Hardin shared that she did a lot of research to select where she wanted to work. She advised potential fellows to be “really persistent about cold emailing” when reaching out to potential host organizations.

More advice came from Robby Hill, who spent the summer before his senior year at Legal Services NYC in Brooklyn, where he helped clients defend evictions. He encouraged students to “try something new, really lean into it.”

Michaela Phan ’26, now a first-year law student at Yale, was a 2021 Liman summer fellow while attending Stanford University. Like Naina, Phan encouraged students interested in Liman fellowships to cold contact potential host organizations. She added that many of her emails were ignored. Persistence, however, paid off.

“I got the internship at the Office of General Counsel’s Department of Disability Services in Washington, D.C. because I was very persistent, was interested in the work, and wanted to have genuine conversations about it,” Phan said. “It's impacted my current life and what courses I'll take in law school.”

Other former fellows reminded people that doing a fellowship need not be predicated on a plan to go to law school. Keerthana Annamaneni, a 2018 Liman summer fellow with the Bronx Defenders, said that he thought he wanted to be a journalist who reported on legal issues. As to the application process, Annamaneni advised students to consider a variety of factors when seeking a placement.

“Make sure you think about what locations you want to be in, what communities you want to serve,” she said. “Do you want to be at a big public defense organization or do a smaller place down South?”

Yakeleen Almazan, a current Yale junior, was a 2023 summer fellow at the San Diego County Office of the Public Defender. She described the opportunity to play a significant role on a trial defense team and advised prospective fellows not to underestimate their ability to contribute.

“At first I was scared,” Almazan said. “What can I do as an undergrad that can help you as an attorney? But my voice was really valuable and it was one of the most fundamental life-changing experiences of my life.”

Sydney Daniels ’24, a 2019 graduate of Yale College and a third-year student at Yale Law School, was a 2018 summer fellow at Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Daniels has participated in several Davenport sessions since then. This year she emphasized the personal impact the fellowship experience can have.

“One year I gave my take on the fellowship and started crying,” Daniels said. “That gives you a sense of the huge emotional toll that a lot of this work can take. My advice is to make sure that you're taking care of yourself emotionally and otherwise, as criminal justice-related work can involve vicarious trauma.”

In addition to Yale, students from Barnard, Brown, Bryn Mawr, Harvard, Princeton, Spelman, and Stanford participate in the summer fellowship program. Some who spoke at Davenport are students at Yale College and others had graduated from Yale or other participating schools.

More about the 2023 Liman undergraduate summer fellows and reflections from fellows on their internships can be found in the most recent Liman Center Reports on pages 36-39.

The deadline for Yale College students to apply for a 2024 Liman summer fellowship is Jan. 28. For more information or to apply online, visit the Liman Center website or contact Jennifer Taylor at