Alumni Short

Robert B Kent Public Interest Fellowship

Purpose: The Robert B. Kent Public Interest Law Fellowship was established in 2017 to provide support to new Cornell Law School graduates who show exceptional commitment to the field of public interest law. The Fellowship is designed to provide opportunities to gain substantive experience in work that will improve the quality and delivery of legal services to the poor, the elderly, the homeless, and those deprived of their civil rights.

Projects Funded: Projects may be civil or criminal in focus. Projects in the area of indigent criminal defense should focus on innovative services, and support or delivery mechanisms that are not adequately funded by the government or that are designed to impact broad criminal justice issues.  For both civil and criminal projects, advocacy may entail a wide range of approaches, including, but not limited to, community legal education and training, organizing, direct services, litigation, transactional work and administrative efforts. Preference will be given to projects that are designed to impact a large number of people, create programs that can be replicated in other communities and create lasting institutions or programs.  This is a one-year fellowship.  

Eligibility: Applicants must be third-year Cornell Law Students, or recent Cornell Law School graduates completing judicial clerkships. Applicants must secure a sponsoring private non-profit organization and, together with the organization, submit a proposal for a one-year project with specific focus and goals. The sponsoring organization can be based in the United States or abroad. The selected fellow must agree to be available and willing to return to Cornell Law School to speak to students about his or her work. He or she must also be willing to allow Cornell to publicize the fellowship project. The Fellow will receive a $50,000 annual salary, plus benefits. Once the fellowship has commenced, Fellows may apply for loan repayment assistance through Cornell Law School's Public Interest Low Income Protection Plan, a separately-funded program.    

Selection Process: Applicants will be interviewed and selected by a Faculty Fellowship Committee. Criteria the Fellowship Committee will use to evaluate applicants and potential sponsoring organizations will include, but not be limited to, the following:

Applicants: The candidate's demonstrated or stated commitment to public-interest law generally, and specifically to the community in which the candidate is planning to work. The candidate's professional, volunteer and/or subject matter expertise indicating that the candidate possesses the relevant skills and initiative to make the proposed project a success.

Sponsoring Organization: The non-profit organization's commitment and ability to provide training, support and supervision throughout the Fellowship project.  An articulation of how the project fits into organizational priorities.


The application for the Robert B. Kent Public Interest Law Fellowship can be found here.


Applicants should direct questions to Akua Akyea, Assistant Dean for Public Service,