Justice Catalyst Fellowship

Justice Catalyst administers one-year, potentially renewable, project-based fellowships for graduating law students, or graduates up to two years out of law school, to support innovative public interest work at non-profit organizations.

ABOUT US

Justice Catalyst activates path-breaking approaches to social justice lawyering and affirmative litigation that have real-world impact and improve the lives of low-wage workers, the poor, and the marginalized. Towards this end, Justice Catalyst launches and supports early-stage projects with existing public interest organizations or public agencies that employ or wish to adopt innovative approaches or legal strategies to address social problems, and seeds new organizations aiming at transformative change. More information at https://catalystfellowships.org/.

ABOUT THE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

Justice Catalyst is looking for projects from diverse, creative, self-starting fellows who will pursue year-long fellowships, with a possibility of renewal. Justice Catalyst prioritizes groundbreaking ideas, including early-stage projects that are boundary-pushing in the pursuit of systemic solutions to major injustices, whether at an established legal organization or an organization looking to hire its first lawyer. In addition, you can submit a prospectus without a host organization, and work with us to identify a way to launch the project.

Justice Catalyst’s philosophy is problem-centric. Successful projects start with a problem in the world and identify the novel and potentially transformative ways to attack it. While Justice Catalyst’s core programmatic work is focused on litigation as a tool, fellowship project proposals need not be. Every problem has multiple possible solutions, and tailoring your project proposal to your understanding of the problem is key. While direct representation can be a major component of your project, we are interested in projects that build towards broad scale change, including projects that fall outside traditional conceptions of legal work.

In addition, projects that can be started now (e.g. while you are still in law school, even if you are a 1L or a 2L) are extremely attractive to us. We have various options to get you jump started on your project. Indicate your interest in part time advance work in your prospectus.

See past and current fellows at https://catalystfellowships.org/fellows.

We believe that a variety of perspectives and backgrounds enriches and maximizes our work. We aim to assemble an applicant pool that is reflective of the world that we live in — one that is diverse in race, color, age, religion, ancestry, national origin, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, economic background, mental and physical abilities, and other traits that make us who we are. We strongly encourage anyone who is interested in this opportunity to apply, especially those who may not think of themselves as typical applicants for post-graduate fellowships. If you think this may be you, please submit a prospectus or application — we would love to talk to you.

The full amount of funding to the host organization is $65,000. Our expectation is that that money will be devoted to salary, and that host organizations will provide health benefits in addition. In special circumstances we can discuss other arrangements. Individual questions and specific needs can be emailed to fellowships@justicecatalyst.org.

APPLICATION TIMELINE AND DETAILS

In order to foster innovative ideas, the application has multiple stages (detailed below):

 

STAGE DUE DATE NOTES

STAGE 1. Resume & Prospectus 2. Full Application 3. Interview 4. Final Decisions 5. Renewal
DUE DATE Oct. 1 Dec. 1 Rolling February 15 TBD.
NOTES Prospectuses will be reviewed in monthly batches Required Selective Fellows may apply to renew a for a second year.

 

Stage 1: Resume & Prospectus

October 1 (Optional but highly recommended)

In the first (optional) stage, we invite you to submit a resume and a short prospectus summarizing the problem you seek to address and your idea for addressing it. The prospectus allows us to identify, and help develop and refine, the most promising projects. We provide responses to every prospectus submitted. 

Submit your prospectus (Max 500 words) at https://catalystfellowships.org/fellowship/jc-prospectus/. Your prospectus should be a concise statement of the problem you seek to address and your plan ato address it. We encourage you to be succinct: include the basic information that will allow us to understand what you intend to do and evaluate whether it is a good fit for a full Justice Catalyst Fellowship application: e.g. how might your work lead to broad scale impact. You may wish to refer to the full application materials below or the webinar above for a sense of the Justice Catalyst fellowship priorities.

We also ask that you include a list of people — lawyers and nonlawyers — that you have contacted or would like to speak with as part of developing your project, in addition to potential host organizations. A listening tour that includes a wide range of input is vital to developing your proposal and ensuring that your work is not duplicative or counterproductive, and these initial contacts may well turn into collaborations and partnerships during your fellowship.

The prospectus is intended as a work in progress, and we welcome the opportunity to work with you to turn an initial idea into a detailed plan of action. So don’t hesitate to submit early, even before you have a firm proposal!

Stage 2: Full Application

December 1 (Required)

In addition to the questions in the application form, the full application consists of two documents: an Application Document and a Host Commitment Letter. 

Application Document

Your Application Document should consist of a single PDF containing a cover sheet, project description, and resume. Please enter your answers into the Word document, and then upload it to our application form as a PDF. The file name should be “Your Name 2023-2024 Justice Catalyst Fellowship Application”. The Application Document contains the following sections:

  1. Cover Sheet
  2. Project Description
  • Your project description should be included by answering the following questions (please note the word limits):
    1. What is the problem in the world that your fellowship project seeks to address? (Max 200 words)
    2. What is your approach and specific strategy for addressing the problem during your one-year fellowship? If relevant, what might cause that approach to change over the course of the fellowship? (Max 600 words)
    3. What would you describe as your theory of change for the project (e.g. how does your project work towards systemic solutions and broad scale change)? (Max 200 words)
    4. What are some existing models or analogues to your approach? Why do you think your approach isn’t currently being implemented/funded? (Max 200 words)
    5. If your project is successful, how might you quantify the scale of your impact (e.g. number of people affected, and how)? (Max 200 words)
    6. Please include a list of people — lawyers and nonlawyers — with whom you have spoken or would find it useful to speak as part of developing this approach.
    7. Do you have any specific skills, experience, or personal connection relevant to the problem or approach you have identified? (Max 200 words)

Host Commitment Letter [note: this will not be applicable to some projects] including:

– The mission and basic information about the organization (links to relevant portions of website are sufficient);

– Formal endorsement of the project and statement that the host organization submits the project for funding, and will host and implement the project, if selected and funded;

– Proposed supervision, including the name and title of the supervisor. Please note that the supervisor is not required to be an attorney;

– Contact information (including phone number) for proposed supervisor, and logistical point of contact for Justice Catalyst, if different;

– If the fellow’s project is predominately focused on representing clients, including a public agency or the people represented by that agency, a description of the organization’s professional liability and malpractice insurance and a statement confirming the fellow’s eligibility for coverage;

– If the host organization will be unable to offer $65,000 starting salary plus benefits for the fellow, a brief explanation of why, and an indication of what the base salary and benefits will be;

– Copy of the 501(c)(3)* determination letter granting the organization tax-exempt status.

Please note that Justice Catalyst does not accept letters of recommendation at the application stage. 

Stage 3: Interview

For selected applications, Justice Catalyst will conduct a video interview, and may undertake other follow up, based on the specifics of the project.

Stage 4: All Final Decisions

February 15

Applicants will be notified of decisions by February 15th. We sometimes maintain a short waitlist: you will be notified if your project is on the waitlist.

Stage 5: Renewal

During the first fellowship year, fellows will have the opportunity to apply for a one-year project extension. Some projects may be extended at the full rate, while others may receive partial additional funding from Justice Catalyst.

Application Submission

Submit all materials at https://catalystfellowships.org/jc-apply/

Grants will be made to the host organizations, which, under the terms of the grant, will be responsible for the expenditure of the grant funds and the project. You will be an at-will employee of the host organization. It is expected that all grant funds go directly to the fellow, or be used to facilitate the fellow’s presence at the host organization.

Please contact us at fellowships@justicecatalyst.org with any questions, and ask a careers advisor at your law school to contact us if you would like to arrange a campus informational visit.