How does a Public Rights Project Fellow advance public rights?

States and cities are on the front lines of protecting their residents against discrimination, fraud, and disenfranchisement. PRP fellows work with chronically under-resourced government law offices to expand enforcement efforts, protect their residents, and grow the impact of a city or state’s legal work. Their work will include developing new legal theories and enforcement strategies for offices to be more proactive and equitable in using the law to address their communities’ needs. Their work is also aimed at helping city, county, and state law enforcement agencies work more collaboratively on complex problems.

What are the advantages of becoming a Fellow?

  • Leverage your unique background and legal experience for innovative work at the city and state government level.

  • Become a leader in your community and gain access to leadership opportunities in city and state government.

  • Develop groundbreaking impact litigation to advance justice for underserved communities.

  • Bolster your hands-on litigation experience working alongside experienced litigators and leaders.

  • During and after the fellowship, connect to a rich network of PRP staff, board members and affiliates to assist you in continuing your public service career.

When is the application deadline?

The 2019 application for the Public Rights Project Fellowship is now closed. The application will reopen for the 2020-2022 cycle in early 2020. If you would like to receive a notification when the application reopens, please visit our Apply page and fill out our Interest form. We also recommend you check our website periodically for updates. 

How long is the fellowship, and what are the start and end dates?

The fellowship runs for two years. The next fellowship will start in September 2020 and end in August 2022.

Who is eligible for the program?

Public Rights Project looks for attorneys with an active bar membership in a U.S. state, with approximately 3-5 years or more of legal experience, who have a deep interest in public service and government. Please see below for additional criteria we’ll consider in evaluating your application.

What are the pay and benefits in the program?

Fellows are paid an annual stipend to cover living expenses. Please note that stipends will vary by location and are calculated based on cost of living and the placement office’s average salaries. The average range is $60,000-$80,000.

Where are the fellows based?

Placement locations vary from year to year. Locations for the 2020-2022 cycle will be announced in early 2020. Our fellows are currently working in the following offices:

  • Cook County State’s Attorney

  • Detroit Mayor’s Office

  • Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office

  • Oakland City Attorney’s Office

  • Wisconsin Department of Justice

Where can I learn more about the fellowship?

During the 2019 application cycle, Public Rights Project hosted informational webinars for attorneys interested in learning more about the Public Rights Project You can find the link to those recorded webinars here. Please note that the fellowship placement locations vary each cycle. 

During the application process for our 2020-2022 fellowship class, we will have multiple opportunities to learn about our program, including webinars and virtual office hours with current fellows.

How are fellows selected?

Fellows are selected by a committee that includes Public Rights Project staff, board members, partners, and placement staff.

What are we looking for in our fellows?

Fellows are selected using criteria that include:

  • Strong desire to work in public service

  • Litigation experience (any plaintiff-side litigation experience is a bonus)

  • Wide-ranging interests in multiple areas of law

  • Stellar research and writing skills

  • Ability to understand, navigate, and achieve results in complex governmental organizations

  • Commitment to building entrepreneurial atmosphere in state and local government

  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills

  • Demonstrated ability to achieve outcomes and results within deadlines and resource constraints

What is the application process?

The Public Rights Project Fellowship application process includes a written application and a series of interviews. We will also speak to professional references and request writing samples from finalist candidates. Below is an overview of our application schedule. The precise dates will be announced when our 2020-2022 application opens in early 2020.   

March - Application Opens

May - Application Closes

June - Semi-Finalist Candidate Video Interviews

July - Finalist Candidate In-person Interviews

Late July - Fellowships Offered

September - Fellowship Orientation

When will I meet the other fellows?

Right away! Fellows begin with a multi-day orientation with Public Rights Project, followed by onboarding with their placement offices. Orientation consists of in-depth training and workshops on topics pertinent to the fellowship, including:

  • City and state government structure

  • Successful models for affirmative litigation

  • Leadership in government

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion

What are typical responsibilities of a fellow?

Fellows will work alongside government colleagues on affirmative litigation (including new case generation and ongoing affirmative litigation), coalition building and community engagement, policy research, and other projects developed with their placement offices as needed. A fellow’s litigation docket will include exclusively affirmative work, defined as either:

  • Litigation, potential litigation, or other enforcement strategies in a proactive capacity, in which the agency is the plaintiff, potential plaintiff, or amici on the plaintiff’s side; or

  • Litigation or potential litigation in which the agency is the defendant or amici on the defendant’s side, but in which the agency is defending proactive policy choices that protect and/or expand the civil, economic, or environmental rights of residents. For example, if a city is sued by someone challenging an anti-discrimination city ordinance, the fellow may work on defending the city in that litigation. In some circumstances, fellows may also help draft legislation or comment on proposed rulemaking that impacts the host office’s ability to enforce the law and protect its community.

Fellows will also publish at least one blog post, article or policy paper with PRP during their fellowship on a topic related to their work. For example, a fellow working on predatory lending may publish an issue brief identifying strategies and legal theories other state and local governments may wish to use to address the problem in their communities.

How will my work vary depending on my fellowship placement?

In all offices, fellows will pursue affirmative work and will be an integral part of strategic decision-making, not just regarding ongoing cases, but also in deciding which impact cases to bring. Locations for the 2020-2022 cycle will be announced in early 2020.

Who will I report to?

Fellows will report directly to their placement supervisor in the host government office. In addition to their day-to-day management, fellows will have monthly conference calls with PRP staff and will be paired with a mentor.

How does PRP prioritize diversity and inclusion?

Public Rights Project is committed to the principles and practices of equal employment opportunity. We aim to assemble an applicant pool that adequately represents the face of the world we live in. We believe that a variety of perspectives enrich the efficacy of the work of local and state governments. We encourage applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences. These values are core to our application process, the PRP Fellowship, and the work that we do to support equitable enforcement at the state and local level.

Do I need to be a U.S. Citizen to apply?

No, U.S. citizenship is not a requirement. All Fellows must be authorized to work in the U.S. Public Rights Project welcomes and encourages people of all backgrounds to apply to the fellowship.

Other questions? We're here to help. Email with further inquiries.