Cornell Law School Public Service

Frank H.T. Rhodes Public Interest Law Fellowship


Purpose:  Recognizing that many obstacles prevent young attorneys from pursuing careers in public interest law, including the shortage of entry-level jobs, the Frank H. T. Rhodes Public Interest Law Fellowship provides support to new Cornell Law School graduates who show exceptional commitment to the field of public interest law. 

Fellowship Amount:  The Fellow will receive a $50,000 salary, plus benefits, and will be eligible to participate in the Law School’s Public Interest Low Income Protection Plan.     

Eligibility:  Applicants must be third-year Cornell Law Students, or recent Cornell Law School graduates completing judicial clerkships.  Applicants must secure a sponsoring organization (public interest 501(c)(3)) and, together with the organization, submit a proposal for a two-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 broadly publicize the fellowship project.

Fellowship Details:  Rhodes Fellowships provide an opportunity for new attorneys 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 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. 

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.

Application Process:  Applicants must submit all materials as described in the fellowship application form.  The application deadline is Friday, September 14 for a fellowship commencing in September, 2013. 

Selection Process: Applicants will be interviewed and selected by a Faculty Fellowship Committee during the fall 2012 semester.

Evaluation Criteria: 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 s/he is planning to work. The candidate's professional, volunteer and/or subject matter expertise indicating that s/he possesses the relevant skills and initiative to make the proposed project a success.

Sponsoring Organization:  The 501(c)(3) 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.

Applicants should direct questions to Karen Comstock, Assistant Dean for Public Service,