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Public Service Venture Fund Organization-Based (Org-Based) Fellowships are fully-funded fellowships intended to help launch students’ public interest careers at the public service organization of their choice that otherwise is not hiring at the entry-level or through the organization’s own fellowship.

Applicant Eligibility

Any 3L and judicial law clerk who has not been employed for post-graduate work prior to clerking may apply for a fellowship at an existing nonprofit or government agency. 

Up to four fellowships are open to LL.M. and S.J.D. students. Because the mission of the PSVF is to provide opportunities for HLS students/graduates who are trying to launch their public interest careers but have not yet been able to secure a position, LL.M.s are eligible to apply if the student obtained: 

  • An LL.B. (or equivalent) fewer than five years before May 1st of the year the student matriculated at HLS. 


  • An LL.B. (or an equivalent) plus an Advanced Law Degree (e.g., a J.D. or an LL.M.) fewer than two years before May 1st of the year the student matriculated at HLS. For purposes of determining eligibility, post-LL.B. bar training certificates (e.g., B.L. or PCLL) do not count as “Advanced Law Degrees.” 

Exception: LL.M. applicants from countries where the legal system is in such turmoil that they could not acquire legal experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Requests for exceptions should be submitted well in advance of the application deadline (no less than a month) to Judy Murciano as they need to be vetted by a committee of experts.

Students can apply to be staff attorneys at their host organization or can propose a specialized project. Those eligible for the Organization-Based Fellowships and the Seed Grants may apply for both, by submitting separate applications for each fellowship.

For international fellows and fellows who plan to work internationally during their fellowship year, the Fellow and the Host Organization are responsible for securing any work authorizations needed for the fellowship to be completed.

Host Eligibility

Host organizations must comply with the PSVF Organization-Based Fellowship Host Organization Guidelines. Only nonprofits or government agencies may be host organizations, and only in the absence of their own entry-level positions or fellowships. 

Selection Criteria

The selection process consists of an online application, followed by interviews for those selected as finalists. We highly recommend that you discuss your proposed placement and/or project with a member of the OPIA staff before applying and meet with a member of the OPIA staff for interviewing practice and feedback prior to your interview. Fellowship recipients will be selected by an HLS committee of faculty and senior administrators outside of OPIA, based on the following criteria:

  • Potential for an outstanding career in public service 
  • The extent to which prior experiences have prepared the applicant for the proposed placement 
  • Appropriateness of the position as a career launcher (i.e., whether the proposed position would likely lead to more permanent employment, either with the host organization or through networking assisted by the host organization) 
  • The extent of prior efforts to secure funding or other postgraduate jobs before applying for the PSVF (documented in the Prior Efforts section of the Organization-Based Fellowship Application)
  • Whether the student has met with an OPIA staff member for job search assistance prior to submitting an application, particularly if the applicant’s search is limited geographically for family or personal reasons; the committee will consider the breadth and assiduousness of the applicant’s job search as a factor in the decision making process

There is no preference for work on a particular issue. Among competing applicants, the PSVF prioritizes projects that address the greatest need and/or possess the greatest potential for impact.


  • Proposed Changes to Memorandum of Understanding Due

    Any changes to the Memorandum of Understanding host organizations propose must be submitted by January 8, 2024.

  • Meet with an OPIA Adviser

    Applicants must meet with an OPIA advisor to discuss their job search no later than January 17, 2024.

  • Application

    The online application in CARAT is due on Monday, February 5, 2024 at 5:00pm

  • Interviews

    Interviews are held throughout April.

  • Selection

    Recipients are announced in early May.

Note: potential applicants pursuing positions in states whose final bar deadline is before the early-May PSVF Org-Based Fellowship award date, or positions through the Gideon’s Promise Law School Partnership Program , may apply for an Early Decision Fellowships.


Organization-Based Fellowships provide a stipend of $50,000 to help defray the costs of a full year’s work at a nonprofit organization or government agency. Host organizations must provide fellows, in advance of the fellow’s submission of an application for funding to HLS, notification of the fellow’s gross salary for the fellowship year. HLS expects the fellow’s salary level to be commensurate with what an attorney at the host organization with similar experience or duties would receive, and encourage host organizations to supplement the fellow’s salary if necessary to ensure equity in compensation. HLS will not provide any additional funding or benefits.

Health care and other benefits must either be provided by the sponsoring organization or covered by the individual. Documented health care coverage is required during the fellowship year. 

Applicants are highly encouraged to apply to all funding sources available to them. If a candidate receives another fellowship for an amount less than what PSVF would provide, and is also a successful PSVF candidate, PSVF may offer partial funding to make up for that discrepancy. 

Funding Sources

Funding for the PSVF Org-Based Fellowships comes from many sources, including the following:

The Irving R. Kaufman Fellowship was created in recognition of Judge Kaufman’s distinguished career in public service and made possible by a generous gift from the late Honorable Walter Annenberg, philanthropist and former Ambassador to the Court of St. James.  It is intended as an award to graduating Harvard Law School students and recent alumni/ae who demonstrate the potential for outstanding careers in public service.

The Maria, Gabriella and Robert A. Skirnick Public Interest Fellowship was established to promote public service through a generous gift to Harvard Law School from Maria Ann Skirnick, J.D. ’69, and Robert A. Skirnick, J.D. ’66, University of Chicago Law School. The Skirnicks are now joined by their daughter, Gabriella Skirnick, J.D./MBA ’07. The purpose of the Fellowship is two-fold: to achieve an immediate impact on the lives of the people served by the programs where the Fellows will be working and, with an eye to the future of the legal profession, to develop public interest law leaders and practitioners of tomorrow, whether they continue to work in the nonprofit arena or become pro bono advocates in the private bar. The Skirnick Fellowships are awarded to graduating third-year Harvard Law School students who demonstrate potential to become outstanding public interest lawyers and who will be working in qualifying practice settings according to the terms of the fellowship.

The Edith W. Fine Fellowship was created in recognition of Judge Fine’s ’57 distinguished career in public service and made possible by memorial gifts from family, friends, and colleagues. The Fellowship awards $1,000 annually to a woman in the third-year class of Harvard Law School who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and commitment to pursuing public service work directly upon graduation for any or all of the following causes: protection of women’s reproductive rights; civil or criminal legal assistance to the poor; and eradication of discrimination against women, minorities, or other groups which have historically suffered mistreatment in the United States. Among the jobs not eligible for support are judicial clerkships, academic appointments, and positions in private public interest law firms.

The Seaman/Plancher Fellowship was established through a generous gift by Jill Seaman Plancher, JD ’88, to support deserving recent Harvard Law School graduates who will apply their legal skills and talents for a post-graduate year conducting legal aid work at an organization serving their communities.

The Redstone Fellowship in Public Service was established through a generous gift from Sumner M. Redstone ’47. Redstone, a leading media entrepreneur and philanthropist, sought to support recent Harvard Law School graduates committed to meaningful public service work and making a difference in the lives of others.

The Dennis ’83, Susan, William ’08, and Thomas ’12 Langer Public Service Fellowship was established by a generous gift from the Langer family. The fellowship is awarded to accomplished Harvard Law School students and supports recipients for one year of post-graduate public service work.

Contact Deborah Valero Montijano with questions about the application process and contact Judy Murciano with questions about eligibility, selection criteria, and application materials.