Is there an “exhaustion” requirement? In order to meet the good faith criteria, how many fellowships and jobs are considered the ideal number for an applicant?
There is no “exhaustion” requirement – you are not expected to apply for every job for which you would be eligible. However, you are expected to make a good faith effort to land a job in your field(s) of interest and not over-rely on one possible employer or the PSVF. Each applicant is evaluated as an individual who brings distinct interests and skills. While we want you to apply for work that you are excited about, you need to balance that with openness to related work. For example, simply applying for several fellowships with one host organization will generally not be sufficient. If you are geographically restricted in your search, we will expect you to be more open-minded about the type of work you will pursue. Applying just for judicial clerkships does not count as a good faith effort to find a public interest job. As always, you are encouraged to make an appointment to consult an advisor in advance of submitting your application to ascertain whether your job search might be considered adequate for the Selection Committee.
For recommendations, is it better to submit a letter from a podium faculty member or my clinical instructor?
The key to choosing a good recommendation and reference is to select the people who are most familiar with your knowledge and skills in the relevant area in which you plan to practice as a public interest attorney. Often a clinical instructor has seen you interacting with clients or knows your work from supervising you directly in the field.
I heard that one of my potential recommenders is one of the PSVF interviewers. Would this person still be able to be a recommender or reference for me?
Yes. A person who has taught you would still be an appropriate choice either for writing your recommendation letter or receiving calls as your reference. However, if they write you a recommendation letter, they will not be allowed to interview you but can vote on your application.
If I have never worked in the issue area nor with the organization where I propose to set up my project, what can I do to demonstrate my readiness for a PSVF Org-Based Fellowship?
You have several ways to signal your readiness for undertaking your project or a staff position in your field:
- enroll in a clinical this fall;
- undertake an independent clinical or externship during J-term;
- use seminars as opportunities to delve more deeply into the issue areas, by analyzing data or writing papers.
On the whole, PSVF is looking for fellows who have shown a record of dedication to public interest work. This can manifest in several ways: if you have done a lot of human rights work abroad but plan to work on behalf of clients in the U.S., you are responsible for explaining how your prior work with clients and special language skills or cultural sensitivity inform your passion for serving in this new setting.
I am considering a career in international human rights; could I use a PSVF Org-Based Fellowship to be abroad for a year if I know I want to be based in the U.S. for my long-term career?
A PSVF Org-Based Fellowship can be used for work with any PSVF-eligible organization. Many U.S.-based human rights groups value international field work, reporting, and interviewing skills. If you are considering an international proposal, please make an appointment with Judy about early internal Fulbright deadlines, Committee on General Scholarships, and the Human Rights Fellowships.
I am not a U.S. citizen; am I still eligible for the PSVF Org-Based Fellowship?
Yes. Every year, both J.D. and LL.M. international students win PSVF Org-Based Fellowships to work at the job of their dreams. LL.M.s, in particular, are urged to review the eligibility criteria.