Frequently Asked Questions

Justice Catalyst Fellowship Application Process

Q. What qualifies a candidate for a Justice Catalyst Fellowship?

A. Candidates must be in their final year of a law degree (JD or LLM) from a U.S. law school, or have graduated within 2 years of applying. In limited cases, we also accept applications from non-attorneys (see next question for details).

Q. What is included in the Justice Catalyst Fellowship application?

A. Please review our Fellowships page for a detailed list of application requirements.

Q. Do you accept recommendation letters as part of the application package?

A. Two references are requested as part of the application form. We do not accept recommendation letters.

Q. Is there a GPA cut-off?

A. No, we do not request any information regarding GPA from prospective candidates.

Q. I’m a 1L/2L/not yet in law school, but I have an idea now.

A. Great! We’d love to hear about it, especially if you’re interested in getting started early. We are open to supporting a limited number of candidates with kickstarting their fellowship work prior to their law school graduation date.

Q. Are fellows required to come up with a new project for the fellowship, or can they work on an existing project with their chosen organization?

A. The project does not need to be entirely new – if it is the continuation/expansion of an existing project, please describe that in the prospectus/application.

Q. I submitted my application on your website but I never received a confirmation email. Was my application received?

A. Please check your spam/junk folder. If you are still missing a confirmation email, please email us at

Q. After I submit my prospectus, when will I hear back?

A. Candidates who submit a prospectus via our form will receive responses by Nov 3, 2023.

Q. After I submit my application, when will I hear back?

A. Applicants will be notified via email whether or not they have been selected for an interview in January and February 2024.

Q. When do you make final fellowship selections?

A. Applicants will be notified of final fellowship selection decisions no later than March 1, 2024.

Justice Catalyst Fellowship Project Proposal

Q. What qualifies as a Justice Catalyst Fellowship Project?

A. Please refer to our Fellowships webpage for details regarding what qualifies as a fellowship project.

Q. Are there any restrictions on the substantive areas of law that the fellowship project can address?

A. There are no substantive area of law limitations for the Justice Catalyst fellowship. The project must, however, fit Justice Catalyst’s non-profit, tax-exempt mission.

We get excited about proposed projects across a broad spectrum of topic areas and as you can see from our current and past fellows, each year we award fellowships focused on varied and diverse topics. Some issue areas where we would particularly welcome applications include: 

  • Antitrust
  • Consumer rights
  • Decarceration
  • Economic justice
  • Labor
  • Workers’ rights
  • Corporate and government accountability
  • Projects that support and advance access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD)

Note that the Justice Catalyst Fellowship program has no subject area restrictions: we welcome projects focused on any and all issue areas. The fellowship program is primarily U.S.-focused but we occasionally support projects based outside of the country with a close nexus to the U.S.

Q. Can the project go after powerful interests, such as large corporations or government actors?

A. Yes. We aim to fill gaps in the traditional social impact legal space, and to tackle injustice wherever it may reside.

Q. Can the fellowship be used to support lobbying or political work?

A. Our fellowship funds cannot be used for lobbying or political work. If your proposed project includes these items, please reach out to us to discuss the contours of what we are able to support.

It is generally possible to conduct advocacy work without falling foul of (c)(3)-prohibited activities. However, we are unable to provide legal advice on (c)(3)compliance: we will rely on the candidate and the host to ensure compliance.

Q. Do you support new organizations?

A. Yes! Please reach out early via the prospectus if you are interested in seeding a new project.

Q. I want to get started now!

A. We are open to a limited number of projects that can be started now (e.g. while you are still in law school). We have various options to get you jump started on your project. Indicate your interest in part-time advance work in your prospectus.

Q. Do you consider projects that have a primarily international focus?

A. Our fellowship projects focus primarily on domestic issues; the projects that are based or focused outside the U.S. must have a close nexus to the U.S. (e.g., U.S. immigration policy, or the actions of U.S. corporations abroad). 

As a concrete example, one of our JC fellows at Centro de Los Derechos del Migrante in Mexico City works to expose the exploitation of TN visa workers by US-based corporations and offer meaningful access to justice for TN workers who suffer labor rights abuses. The project is focused on applying U.S. law to support workers from Mexico within the U.S. legal system.

Justice Catalyst Fellowship Experience

Q. How long is a Justice Catalyst Fellowship term?

A. 1 year with possibility of renewal for 3-12 additional months

Q. What reporting is required of fellows and/or host organizations?

A. Justice Catalyst conducts quarterly check-ins with fellows over the course of the year. The first check-in is a Zoom meeting. The second check-in is a short mid-year written update. The third check-in is also a Zoom meeting. The fourth check-in is a short, final written report.

Q. What support does Justice Catalyst provide fellows?

A. Justice Catalyst offers programming such as an optional monthly book club, in addition to connection to trainings and other learning resources; limited additional funding for short projects/campaigns related to the fellowship project, community-building with peers and experts in the field, coaching support from Justice Catalyst staff with regard to short and long-term career planning, and the possibility of seed funding for fellows who seek to launch their own non-profit or law firm coming out of their fellowship.

Host Organization Requirements

Q. What types of hosts are eligible to house a fellowship project?

A. 501(c)(3) nonprofits, government agencies, unions, private law firms with public interest practices, and some public defender offices. The host organization can be an established legal organization or an organization looking to hire its first lawyer. We also accept non-501(c)(3) host organizations. However, there are often extra steps involved at non-501(c)(3)s and legal requirements that must be met so it is best to reach out to us early in the Prospectus stage to indicate that interest.

  • 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
  • Plaintiff-side law firm
  • Union
  • Tribal, local, state or federal government agency

Q. May a fellow have a fiscally-sponsored project of a 501(c)(3) as a host?

A. Yes, a fellow may have a fiscally-sponsored project of a 501(c)(3) as a host.

Q. How can an interested host organization connect with a potential fellow?

A. An interested host organization can invite one of their law students to apply for a fellowship with them during their 3rd year of law school or while the candidate is up to two years out of law school. Organizations may also post a job listing for a fellowship candidate, just as they would a regular job posting, and interview and select a candidate to apply for the Justice Catalyst Fellowship with them. Many times, these candidates will partner with the organization to apply for multiple post-law school legal fellowships, such as Justice Catalyst, Equal Justice Works, Skadden, or other fellowship programs. Unlike other fellowship programs, Justice Catalyst allows candidates who are up to two years out of law school to apply.

Q. Does Justice Catalyst pay for the fellow’s salary? Is the host organization responsible for other expenses like benefits?

A. The full amount of funding to the host organization is $70,000. Our expectation is that those funds will be devoted to salary, and that host organizations will provide health and fringe benefits in addition. However, in cases where the host organization is not in a position to do that, the fellow and the host organization can agree for some or all of the benefits to come out of that $70,000.

Q. Is Justice Catalyst able to pay fellows directly if a host organization is unable to receive fellowship funding?

A. We are not able to pay fellows directly. However, in past situations like this we have been able to work with fellows and hosts to find another solution. This is not something you have to work out in advance: we can work with you and the host organization to figure that out if and when your project is selected.

Q. Can more than one fellow apply with a single host organization?

A. Yes. We are happy to review multiple applications with a single host organization, and neither hosts nor prospective fellows will be disadvantaged. We are committed to considering each project on its own merits and would not have a problem placing multiple fellows at a single organization, if the projects were the best positioned in the applicant pool to advance our mission.