Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellowship

Looking for public interest work near Philadelphia? The Independence Foundation is pleased to announce the 18th year of the Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellowship Program.  The Fellowship Program is designed to support public interest legal services by funding the compensation of lawyers at public interest law organizations located in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties.

Applications due September 26, 2012. For a full written description of the Fellowship Program and application materials, please visit the Independence Foundation’s website.  Questions may be addressed to Susan Heckrotte, program officer, at 215.985.4009 or sheckrotte@independencefoundation.org.

Since the inception of the program, the Foundation has granted Fellowships to over 60 outstanding young lawyers.  In the relatively short history of the Fellowship Program, the Foundation’s Public Interest Law Fellows have rendered a wide variety of public interest law services.  They have worked to stop abuse and neglect of children and the elderly, to assist recent immigrants with a multitude of legal problems, to develop and implement sound welfare reform initiatives and represent welfare recipients affected by changes in the welfare system, to defend and promote the rights of the disabled and women, to assist parents infected with HIV to plan for their own and their children’s futures, and to obtain quality health care for low-income people.  The Fellows have performed these services at 19 public interest law organizations, all current or former grantees of the Independence Foundation.

The Foundation is specifically interested in addressing the need for legal aid to the disadvantaged, including the elderly, the disabled, the homeless or those deprived of their civil or human rights.  However, the Foundation will not grant a Fellowship to fund either the prosecution or defense of criminal defendants.  In addition, although a Fellow may engage in policy-based work, a major component of every Fellow’s work must be the direct legal representation of disadvantaged clients.

Each Fellowship will provide the Fellow an annual salary in the amount of $46,000, plus the cost of health care benefits, disability insurance and employer’s withholding taxes.  In those instances where the Fellow has incurred debt in funding his or her education, the Fellowship will also include an amount payable to assist the Fellow in meeting these obligations up to a maximum of $10,000 a year.  The duration of a Fellowship is one year, subject to renewal for one additional year.

Grants will be made to public interest law organizations that provide services to the groups described above.  It will be the responsibility of each applicant for a Fellowship to secure a position with such an organization as part of the application process.  The Foundation’s decision to grant a Fellowship will depend not only on the character, commitment and qualifications of the applicant, but also on the worthiness of the public interest project the applicant wishes to pursue as an Independence Foundation Fellow.

During the 2012 year of the Fellowship Program, the Foundation expects to grant a maximum of three Fellowships to law school graduates who are within five years of graduation, with the expectation that these Fellows will begin to render service in the public interest by the end of September 2013.  Applications are due on September 26, 2012, and selections will be announced in mid-December, 2012.

If awarded a Fellowship, applicants will be expected to devote their full time to Fellowship work for the duration of the Independence Foundation Fellowship.

Those submitting applications for a first-year Fellowship must submit an original and eleven (11) copies of the application form and an original and eleven (11) copies of each of the following:

  1. Resume
  2. Official law school transcript
  3. Two letters of recommendation, one from a law school advisor and one from a former employer
  4. Commitment Letter from potential sponsoring organization, in the form described above
  5. 501(C)(3) Tax-Exempt Status Qualifying Letter from sponsoring organization
  6. Benefits Worksheet from sponsoring organization

The documents in each application packet must be in the following order:  Application Form, Resume, Transcript, Letters of Recommendation, Commitment Letter, Tax-Exempt Letter and Benefits Worksheet.

Please send applications to: Susan Lum Heckrotte, Program Officer, Independence Foundation, Offices at the Bellevue, 200 South Broad Street, Suite 1101, Philadelphia, PA  19102.