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Public Rights Project: The Power of Public Service


The Public Rights Project Fellowship aims to:

  • Catalyze local and state agencies’ efforts to expand affirmative litigation, community engagement, and innovative strategies to enforce their residents’ legal rights.

  • Establish a pipeline to develop experienced, diverse, talented leaders in state and local government.

The fellowship



Public Rights Project helps talented attorneys find pathways into rewarding public service careers. We place skilled, public interest-minded fellows into a state or city government law office -- a City Attorney, District Attorney, or Attorney General -- for two years. Fellows will have the opportunity to work on a range of civil rights, economic justice, and environmental justice issues that directly impact vulnerable populations locally and across the country.

Fellows will work collaboratively alongside colleagues in their government offices on affirmative litigation, coalition building and community engagement, policy research, and other enforcement projects developed with their placement offices. They will help develop new cases and generate new ideas for their office to expand public rights enforcement.

Fellows will also publish at least one blog post, article or policy paper with Public Rights Project 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.


Public Rights Project is committed to the principles and practices of equal employment opportunity. We aim to assemble an applicant pool that 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. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for the fellowship without regard to their race, religion, ancestry, national origin, ethnicity, sex, gender (including pregnancy and gender identity or expression), sexual orientation, color, age, mental or physical disability, marital status, veteran status, genetic information, medical condition, or any other classification protected by federal, state, or local law or ordinance.

Professional Development

Fellows begin with a multi-day orientation at Public Rights Project in Oakland, CA, 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 inclusiveness

  • Stakeholder engagement and partnership

Throughout the program, fellows will participate in monthly check-in calls with other fellows and Public Rights Project staff. Fellows will also receive periodic professional development opportunities from Public Rights Project staff and partners.


The fellowship pays a yearly stipend calculated based on the fellow’s legal experience, cost of living in the fellow’s placement city, and the average pay of other attorneys in the fellow’s placement office. Generally, the stipend will range from $60,000-80,000. Fellows will receive an additional stipend to cover health insurance costs.


Fellows must have an active bar membership in a U.S. state and a passion for public service. CA bar membership (for the Oakland placement) or MA bar membership or eligibility (for the MA placement) is strongly preferred, but not required.

The fellowship is likely to be ideally suited for attorneys with 3-5 years of legal experience after law school, and a background in litigation.


During the 2018-2020 cycle, fellows will have the opportunity to work either in the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey or in the Office of Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker. Prospective fellows may apply to one or both offices.

Massachusetts Attorney General

In Massachusetts, fellows will be placed within one of the Divisions of the Public Protection & Advocacy Bureau and will have the opportunity to:

  • Combat fraud and abuse in the area of student lending, including for­-profit schools, loan servicers, and so­called student debt relief companies;

  • Fight against wage theft, particularly when it affects low-­income and immigrant workers in the construction, restaurant, and other hard­-hit industries;

  • Confront fraud and scams perpetrated against low-income and immigrant communities, including real estate scams, tax­-relief schemes, consumer fraud, and notario fraud; and

  • Partner with law enforcement and local organizations to confront bias­-motivated incidents and combat hate crimes in our communities.

Click here for more information about this placement.


Oakland City Attorney

In Oakland, fellows will be placed within the Community Lawyering & Civil Rights Unit of the Affirmative Litigation, Innovation & Enforcement Division and will have the opportunity to:

  • Take targeted action to address public health and other environmental justice hazards that endanger city residents.

  • Combat consumer fraud, wage theft, and discrimination against immigrants, communities of color, women, and low-income residents.

  • Convene other local governments that engage in similar policy- forward civil rights enforcement and building lasting partnerships with those localities.

  • Be an integral part of strategic decision-making, not just regarding ongoing cases, but also in deciding which impact cases to bring.

Click here for more information about this placement.