Justice Catalyst activates path-breaking approaches to social justice lawyering and affirmative litigation that have real-world impact and improve the lives of the low-wage workers, the poor, and the marginalized. Towards this end, the Catalyst also 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 through:
• Partnering with existing public interest organizations;
• Organizing convenings;
• Preparing educational material; and,
• Supporting socially responsible approaches to lawyering.
Justice Catalyst Fellowship 2021 - 2022 Information Sheet
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.
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, the 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://justicecatalyst.org/.
ABOUT THE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
The Catalyst is looking for projects from diverse, creative, self-starting fellows who will pursue year-long fellowships, with a possibility of renewal. The 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.
The 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 the 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, the Catalyst is 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.
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 $60,000. 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 email@example.com.
APPLICATION TIMELINE AND DETAILS
In order to foster innovative ideas, the application has multiple stages (detailed below):
|1: Resume & Prospectus||Rolling until Oct 13||Optional but highly recommended. You may submit more than once, so we encourage you to submit as early as possible.|
|2: Full Application||Rolling until Nov 30||Required|
|4: Final Decisions||February 15||Rolling|
|5: Renewal||TBD||Fellows may apply to renew a for a second year.|
Stage 1: Resume & Prospectus
Rolling until October 13 (Optional but highly recommended. You may submit more than once, so we encourage you to submit a prospectus as early as possible.)
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 may be able to help you find partners and models for your work, and/or a host organization. The earlier we receive your prospectus, the sooner we can begin working with you. We aim to provide some feedback or response to every prospectus submitted. We encourage you to submit a prospectus as early as possible, and invite you to submit a second prospectus later on in the cycle if your interests change.
Submit your prospectus (~200-750 words) at justicecatalyst.org/get-started. It can include anything from a brief statement of a problem or problems you care about and would like to work on, to a specific project proposal with a designated host organization. Consider including the following items, but none are required. Tell us whatever you think will help us understand your interests or proposed project and the need it addresses.
- The general category or issue area(s) under which your proposal falls;
- Statement of the problem, including some citations (including to newspaper/magazine articles or reports) for our benefit;
- Your approach to addressing the problem;
- Why your approach isn’t currently being tried or funded, and the closest existing models or analogues;
- Anything else you would like us to know about your relevant skills, experience, or connection to the problem.
We also recommend 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
Rolling Until November 30 (Required)
The full fellowship application requires:
1. Summary Information
– Project title and one sentence project summary (for our ease of reference);
– General category/issue area under which your project falls;
– Name and contact information;
– Two references, with names and contact information;
– Name and address of host organization.
2. Project Description (~1000-3000 words)
You may organize your project description in any way you choose, and include whatever you think is valuable for us to read. Consider including these elements:
– Statement of the problem, with some citations (including to newspaper/magazine articles or reports) for our benefit;
– Your approach and specific strategy for addressing the problem during your one-year fellowship, and the variables that may cause the project to change or develop over time;
– Your theory of change (e.g. how does your project work towards systemic solutions and broad scale change);
– The closest existing models or analogues to your approach, or why the problem currently isn’t being addressed;
– 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;
– Any relevant skills, experience, or personal connection you have or feel to the problem.
3. Commitment Letter from or approved by the host organization, or sponsor organization
[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;
– Proposed supervision, including the name and title of the supervisor, and statement from the host organization that they will host and implement the project. 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;
– Copy of the 501(c)(3)* determination letter granting the organization tax-exempt status.
5. Optional 1-2 Letters of Recommendation
Stage 3: Interview
For selected applications, the Catalyst will conduct a video interview, and may undertake other follow up, based on the specifics of the project.
Stage 4: All Final Decisions
After working with you on your prospectus (if applicable) and reviewing your final application, we will contact you should you be selected for an interview, after which we will make final determinations. The Catalyst announces offers on a rolling basis, but will inform participants whether their projects will receive recommendations for support by February 1.
Stage 5: Renewal
During the first fellowship year, fellows will have the opportunity to apply for a one-year extension. Some projects may be extended at the full rate, while others may receive partial additional funding from the Catalyst.
Submit all materials at justicecatalyst.org/get-started.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you support new organizations?
Yes! Please reach out early via the prospectus if you are interested in seeding a new project.
What if my host org is not a 501(c)(3)?
Great! We value the ability to place fellows at non-501(c)(3) host organizations, including government agencies, unions, private public interest firms, and more. 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 process to indicate that interest.
Can more than one fellow apply with a single host organization?
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 those were the best projects for us.
How “recent’ does a graduate have to be?
We accept applications from graduating law students or graduates up to two years out of law school. There are no restrictions on what you have been doing for that time.
What if I am more than two years out of law school?
We have plans for a fellowship for more experienced attorneys. For now, feel free to submit a prospectus, indicating your graduation year, and we will consider it.
I want to get started now!
Projects that can be started now (e.g. while you are still in law school) 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.
I’m a 1L/2L/not yet in law school, but I have an idea now.
Great! We’d love to hear about it, especially if you’re willing to get started early.
What if I have a project but I’m not a lawyer at all?
While the Catalyst Fellowship is aimed at new attorneys, we welcome submissions from non-attorneys, especially on law-adjacent topics.
Are there any restrictions on the substantive areas of law that the fellowship project can address?
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.
Can the project go after powerful interests, such as large corporations?
We aim to fill gaps left by traditional pro bono practice, and to tackle injustice wherever it may reside.
Can the project address reproductive justice?
Can the project support undocumented immigrants?
Can the project address legal issues faced by incarcerated persons?
Can the project address addiction issues?
Can the fellowship be used to support lobbying or political work?
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.
Does Justice Catalyst pay for the fellow’s salary? Is the host organization responsible for other expenses like benefits?
The full amount of funding to the host organization is $60,000. Our expectation is that those funds will be devoted to salary, and that host organizations will provide health 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 $60,000.
I submitted my application but haven’t heard anything back!
Please email us at email@example.com. We do our best to respond as quickly as possible.
I submitted my application on your website but I never received a confirmation email. Was my application received?
If you have not received a confirmation email regarding your submission, please re-submit your application on our website. We apologize for the inconvenience and we are working hard to resolve the issue.
Apply for a Fellowship: Prospectus
Please submit your resume and prospectus below, and we will be in touch soon to discuss fellowship opportunities.
Not sure where to begin? View some sample project ideas for guidance. Fellowship inquiries are reviewed as they are submitted.
Apply for a Fellowship: Full Fellowship Application
Not sure where to begin? View some sample project ideas for guidance. Fellowship inquiries are reviewed as they are submitted.
Letters of Recommendation