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The Chayes International Public Service Fellowships provide Harvard Law School students with the opportunity to spend eight weeks during the summer working with governmental or non-governmental organizations concerned with issues of an international scope or relevant to countries in transition. The program not only allows a cadre of HLS students to offer their skills to governments and organizations undertaking critical work, but also provides students with practical, first-hand experience with the complex issues faced by societies in development or transition.

Since Chayes Fellowships are international in nature, there is a strong presumption that placements will take place within organizations based outside of the United States. On rare occasions, a Fellow may be approved for a U.S.-based placement within an organization that has an international scope, such as the United Nations or the World Bank.

The exact nature of the Chayes Fellows’ projects may vary, but could include work in the areas of constitutional and legal issues in emerging democracies, reconstruction of war-torn societies, or development of political, social and economic institutions, among others. Past placements have included such organizations as the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense in Colombia, the Legal Assistance Center in Namibia, and the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Chayes Fellows have also been involved in such work as juvenile justice system reform in China, property rights legislation in Kosovo, natural resources law in Mongolia, maternal mortality and reproductive rights in Indonesia, and an assessment project related to United Nations peacekeeping missions. Specific projects for recent Chayes Fellows have included:

  • writing a memo as part of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on the legality of prolonged pre-trial detention for two alleged Khmer Rouge leaders
  • developing the curriculum for a course on strategies for advancing women’s rights in Latin America
  • drafting motions to secure restraining orders over the assets of individuals being prosecuted for fraud in South Africa
  • crafting a substantial study on User Created Content as part of a technology initiative for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • developing a burden-shifting rule for cases involving the use of extreme force at the Inter-American Court
  • writing a memo on implementing legislation after the completion of the constitutional process in Nepal
  • drafting a shareholder’s agreement to govern the African Development Bank’s equity participation in the capital of a major African regional bank
  • researching the laws and conventions governing repatriation of victims of cross-border sex trafficking and the conventions that govern embassies and consulates
  • assessing the design of a Colombian land restitution program against certain international standards
  • developing a right to work campaign on behalf of urban refugees in Tanzania

Summaries of past projects are available here.

This Fellowship is also designed to serve as a bridge between theory and practice and to increase the Fellows’ understanding of the wide spectrum of work that can benefit from the participation of individuals with legal training. The Chayes Fellows, who will have completed at least one year at Harvard Law School before their summer placement begins, become part of a global network of academics and practitioners who are developing and implementing mechanisms to effect positive change in a variety of ways.

The Chayes Fellowship program is administered by Harvard Law School’s International Legal Studies program.

Placement Parameters

Beginning in the fall, students who are interested in the Chayes Fellowship may explore a number of options in order to secure an approved placement.

  1. The Chayes Fellowship program will provide a regularly updated list of verified placement organizations that are interested in hosting a Chayes Fellow for the summer whose interests and skills match the needs of the organization. These pre-approved placement organizations, which will be listed on the program’s website, will be screened to ensure that the proposed placement meets the Chayes Fellowship’s requirements.
  2. Harvard Law School students who are interested in working with an organizations that is not on the roster of pre-approved placements are encouraged to work with the new organization to register it as a Chayes Fellowship placement site. Potential placement organizations are asked to complete and submit the Chayes Fellowship placement form to the Chayes Fellowship program for final approval of the placement.

Organizations interested in publicizing their willingness to host a Chayes Fellow should submit the placement form to the Chayes Program starting in October, but no later than March 15. While it is often difficult to know details of particular projects months in advance, organizations are more likely to be included as potential Chayes placements when they have articulated details of the role and responsibilities they anticipate a fellow will be assigned as part of projects that fall within the Chayes Fellowship’s mandate. In completing the placement form, organizations should focus on the student’s role within a particular project and provide as much detail as possible about the type of work in which the student will engage. At minimum, the “Description of Proposed Work for Chayes Fellow” section of the placement form should include:

  1. an overview of the project
  2. an explanation of the Chayes Fellow’s role in the project
  3. a description of the specific responsibilities and duties that the Chayes Fellow will be assigned

Between November and March, students should be in contact with prospective placement organizations to discuss the nature of the summer work, present their qualifications, and try to secure a firm offer of a position.

Chayes Fellows receive a modest stipend from Harvard Law School designed to cover travel and living expenses for the summer. Fellows are provided at no cost to the placement organizations, but the Chayes Fellows program cannot cover any expenses incurred by placement organizations, including any in-country professional travel that may be required by the internship.

While the placement organizations have no financial obligations, they are required to ensure that the fellows will be well utilized and given opportunities both to learn about and to contribute substantively to the work of the organization. Specifically, placement organizations should agree to do the following:

  • communicate with Harvard Law School students applying for a placement and select the student(s) most suitable for placement in their organization before March 31
  • ensure that the duration of the Chayes Fellowship is at least eight weeks (full-time)
  • determine the fellow’s particular responsibilities and project(s) in advance of the beginning of the summer
  • send a letter to the accepted student and Harvard Law School confirming the placement
  • provide direction, supervision and feedback to the Chayes Fellow during the course of the summer (a few weeks after the placement begins, a representative from the Chayes program will call the Fellow’s supervisor to answer questions and address any concerns on the part of the placement organization)
  • incorporate the Chayes Fellow into the environment and activities of the placement organization

While it is understood that many organizations are understaffed and that even the most engaging and critical work often has an administrative component, it is expected that Chayes Fellows will participate in substantive law-related projects rather than simply tasks of a clerical nature. As well, it is hoped that Chayes Fellows will have an opportunity to work on a project that will result in some sort of written product.

Some fellowships may include projects and/or research that the fellow will conduct in the semester preceding or following the summer placement. These additional projects, which will have a small stipend, will be coordinated with the Chayes Program or individual Harvard Law School faculty members.

Procedure and Timeline

HLS students who are interested in spending a summer as a Chayes Fellow follow a two-part application process:  they apply to placement organizations seeking a summer position, and they apply separately to the Chayes Fellowship Program to be selected as Chayes Fellows.

The Chayes Fellowship Program will identify and publicize potential placement organizations on an ongoing basis. Placement organizations may extend offers for summer positions directly to students. The annual cohort of Chayes Fellows is chosen by a Fellowship Selection Committee which includes Harvard Law School faculty members and staff of the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs and International Legal Studies. The Selection Committee will review the applications in order to choose the most qualified candidates, who will then be offered fellowships contingent upon securing an approved placement.

The timeline for the 2024 summer fellowships is as follows:

  • November 2023: A preliminary list of pre-approved placement organizations (updated regularly) is made available to Harvard Law School students. Students may begin to research these and other potential placement organizations in order to explore whether there is a fit between the student’s interests and skills and the organization’s needs.
  • December 1, 2023:  First-year students may begin to apply for jobs with placement organizations.
  • February 1, 2024: Applications for the Chayes Fellowship are due to the Chayes Fellowship Program.
  • March 1, 2024: Notification of fellowship selections is sent to applicants. Final award of the fellowship will be contingent upon the student securing an approved placement.
  • March 31, 2024: Deadline for accepted Chayes Fellows to secure an approved placement and make a firm commitment to the program.
  • April–May 2024: Final arrangements are made regarding stipends. During this period students will arrange their own travel and housing for the summer.

Contact Information

Sara Zucker
Director, International Legal Studies

Andre Barbic
Program Officer, International Legal Studies