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Ineligible hosts

Only nonprofits or government agencies may be host organizations. Ineligible hosts include :

  • 501(c)(4) organizations
  • 501(c)(5) organizations
  • Judges and/or courts, with the exception of international war crimes and human rights courts, provided those courts are authorized to sign the PSVF Memorandum of Understanding with Harvard Law School.
  • Academic institutions, with the exception of international institutions engaged in advocacy work (administrative, teaching, or research positions are ineligible)
  • Organizations that chose not to support an HLS PSVF candidate for non-school-based fellowship funding sources, unless the organization supported other HLS candidates for those funding sources in the same cycle or chose not to host any applicants for any non-school-based funding sources.

Entry-level Hiring Exceptions

To be eligible to host a PSVF Fellow, the nonprofit or government agency must not offer its own entry-level positions or internal fellowship, unless one of the following exceptions applies:

  • Exception 1: If the organization has a funded fellowship for which only HLS applicants are eligible and has no other organization-based fellowship, and can certify that it will not be conducting any entry-level hiring outside of the HLS-specific fellowship, the organization can be deemed an eligible host for a Harvard Law School PSVF Fellowship.
  • Exception 2: If the HLS candidate is facially unqualified for the entry-level position (e.g., the position requires Mandarin language skills that the candidate does not have), the organization may still host the candidate for an HLS fellowship.
  • Exception 3: If the organization is hiring at the entry-level for a non-litigating position, but the candidate proposes to use the PSVF fellowship for a litigating position within the organization, or vice-versa, the organization may be deemed an eligible host for an HLS fellowship.

Government Hosts

In assessing government agency host eligibility, entry-level hiring will be considered/determined according to the following guidelines:

  • Congress

    Individual members of Congress and Congressional committees will be treated as separate hiring entities if they in fact hire separately.  For example, if one member of Congress has entry-level positions requiring a J.D., that would not foreclose another member of Congress or a Committee that does not have such positions from hosting a PSVF Fellow.

  • Federal Agencies

    Each agency will be deemed a separate hiring entity for eligibility purposes. If an agency has entry-level positions requiring a J.D. in any component of the agency, then the agency and all its components, including those not conducting entry-level hiring, will be ineligible to host a PSVF Fellow. For example, if the Department of Justice offers honors positions only in the Criminal and Civil Divisions, the Department would be ineligible to host a PSVF Fellow, even in a Division not participating in the Honors Program.

  • State and Local Legislatures

    If a particular legislator or legislative committee has entry-level positions requiring a J.D., the legislator or committee would not be eligible to host a PSVF Fellow.

  • State and Local Agencies

    Each agency will be deemed a separate hiring entity for eligibility purposes. If an agency has entry-level positions requiring a J.D. in any component of the agency, then the agency and all its components, including those not conducting entry-level hiring, will be ineligible to host a PSVF Fellow. For example, if the New York City Law Department has entry-level positions requiring a J.D. in one division or unit, the entire agency would be ineligible to host a PSVF Fellow.

In general, no organization may serve as a host if, at the time of the student’s PSVF application, the organization has a position for which the student is eligible to apply, even if the open position is not in the student’s preferred geographic location. In determining whether a national organization is one organization with multiple offices or, in fact, multiple separate organizations, which share an “umbrella” organization’s name, HLS will examine the employer’s 501(c)(3) status. If there is a single national status for the organization, the organization will be treated as one employer with multiple geographic offices; if the geographic offices are independently chartered, HLS will treat each location as an independent employer.

Should the host organization have an entry-level opening after the PSVF application is submitted but before the Fellow begins their fellowship, the PSVF Committee anticipates that the Fellow will be hired for that position. If a position becomes available after the Fellow begins, the PSVF Committee anticipates that the fellow will be given first consideration for the open position.

Host organizations that have a history of hiring fellows at the end of their fellowship year, particularly HLS fellows, will be viewed especially favorably.

PSVF Stipend and Benefits

The host organization will receive a stipend of $50,000 to help defray the costs of the Fellow’s work.  The host organization must provide the Fellow, in advance of the Fellow’s submission of an application for funding to HLS, a 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 experiences or duties would receive, and strongly encourages the host organization to supplement the Fellow’s salary if necessary to ensure equity in compensation.

HLS will not provide any additional funding or benefits. If the Fellow’s gross salary is higher than $50,000, the host organization will be solely responsible to pay the additional amount with non-Fellowship funds and solely responsible for compliance with all relevant state and federal employment laws. 

While HLS prefers that the host organization pay health care benefits for the fellow, host organizations are not required to do so. However, an organization’s willingness to pay for a fellow’s health care costs may be a factor when selecting from among equally qualified fellowship applicants.

The fellow and the host organization will be responsible for securing any work authorizations needed for the fellowship to be completed.

Further guidelines on stipend and benefits can be found in sections 6 and 7 of the Memorandum of Understanding with Harvard Law School.

Work Performed During the Fellowship and Early Departure

The fellow will be expected to work with the host organization for a full year, typically with a September start date and August end date. The fellow may do the traditional work of any staff attorney at the host organization, or they may work on a specialized project developed jointly by the host organization and the applicant. This choice must be delineated in the application materials.  Host organizations must treat the fellow as an entry-level attorney and provide the fellow with substantive work, supervision, feedback, and opportunities for professional development. The fellow must be supervised by a lawyer.

HLS will grant permission for a fellow to leave 1-2 months early if the fellow has secured a subsequent public interest position that requires the fellow to start before the end date of the fellowship. In these circumstances, the $50,000 stipend will be prorated in accordance with the amount of time the fellow has spent working at the organization, per section 5 of the Memorandum of Understanding with Harvard Law School.

Employers should know that, in order to maximize the number of students happily employed, we encourage our students to seek external jobs, including judicial clerkships, and fellowships in the fields of their interest throughout their 3L/LL.M./clerkship year, and even after they apply for the PSVF. For this reason, host organizations should be aware that if a student or clerk receives a public interest job offer or an external fellowship before the PSVF selection process concludes, the student or clerk may withdraw from the PSVF process, even after having partnered with a host organization.

Submission Requirements for Host Organizations

Once the host organization has selected a fellow to sponsor, host organizations must submit:

  1. A sponsorship/host organization letter with the candidate’s application delineating:
    1. The organization’s intent to sponsor the candidate for a one-year fellowship
    2. An overview of the organization’s mission, approach to its work, and communities served, and how the organization anticipates the candidate will contribute to these efforts
    3. The name(s) of the proposed supervisor(s) for the fellow and information about the proposed supervisor(s)’ background (e.g. years of experience, relevant issue area experience, and supervision and management experience)
    4. That the organization does not anticipate being able to hire any entry-level attorneys during the fellowship year
    5. The annual salary that will be paid to the fellow during their fellowship year, and whether or not the organization will pay for health care or any other benefits
    6. That the organization will sign and abide by the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Harvard Law School
  2. A signed copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Harvard Law School.
    1. The MOU will not be modified after applications for funding are submitted. If a host organization would like to suggest changes to the MOU, those changes must be submitted at least one month in advance of a funding application to Deborah Valero-Montijano and approved by the selection committee and Harvard’s Office of General Counsel.
    2. If the host organization proposes that the fellow sign any other contracts or documents as a condition of the fellowship, those documents will also need to be submitted to Deborah Valero-Montijano one month in advance of the fellowship deadline. OPIA will not accept mandatory arbitration clauses in any materials governing its fellowships.