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This program was created to encourage graduating students to assist underserved communities in the United States, and to eliminate the disincentives created by early bar deadlines.

The EDFUJ fellowships will be awarded to third-year JD students who are pursuing positions in states whose final bar deadline is before the early-May award date of the Public Service Venture Fund, Kaufman and Skirnick Fellowships.

Criteria and Application Materials

Because these fellowships are awarded before the Selection Committee can even see the rest of the applicant pool and consider the early applicant’s relative merit, a special set of circumstances apply. Applicants must demonstrate exceptional promise for an outstanding career in public service through their internships, clinics, courses, and activities during law school, as well as any relevant experience prior to law school. General academic excellence is not a priority; rather, the primary criterion for the award is demonstrated excellence in public service, curricular or extracurricular.

Applicants must fill out the Public Service Venture Fund Organization-Based Fellowship application materials. In addition, in order to demonstrate that he or she will be offering a critical service to an underserved community, an applicant must provide evidence of the following circumstances:

  • A pressing need for the particular kind of service he or she proposes to offer.
  • A lack of highly trained lawyers available in the host organization’s application pool to meet the current need (a letter from the host organization showing the difficulty in attracting applicants with the requisite training and skills will help meet this criterion).
  • The host organization’s inability to offer an equivalent position absent fellowship funding.
  • The absence of other equivalent existing paid positions in the state to which the applicant could apply.

This information can be included in the personal statement and host organization sponsoring letter or, if necessary, the applicant may provide a supplemental document no longer than 700 words in length.

Quantity, Organization Eligibility, and Timeline

There is no set number of these fellowships that will be awarded in any given year; rather, awards will be made to qualifying candidates with qualifying positions.

Early Decision Fellowships, like all PSVF Organization-Based Fellowships, may be with either nonprofits or government agencies. Sponsorship for Early Decision Fellowships is subject to the same Sponsorship Guidelines as all other PSVF sponsorship.

The deadline for the Early Decision Fellowship is rolling, but applications must be submitted at least one month before the final bar filing deadline (or the regular filing deadline if there is no late filing option) in order for a selection committee to convene.

Applicants should alert Alexa Shabecoff in OPIA, at shabecof@law.harvard.edu, of their intent to apply as soon as they decide to apply, so that the selection committee meeting can be scheduled.

Students who are not selected for an Early Decision Fellowship remain eligible to apply for a regular-cycle HLS Fellowship.