The application for the Max Berger '71 Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program is now closed. The application for the 2024-2025 academic year will open in May 2024.

Admission to the program is by application. A complete application will include:

  • An online application. 
  • A resume.
  • One letter of recommendation (preferably from an individual who knows you well in an academic or professional context, and can speak to your commitment or contributions to social justice).
  • A video (up to two minutes in length) that says something about you (optional, but strongly preferred).

Please note that the selection committee will not additionally review your application to Columbia Law School. 

To be eligible, you must be an incoming and deposited first-year J.D. student and intend to pursue a public interest, human rights, or government career immediately upon graduation (or following a judicial clerkship).

Berger Fellows embody a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets. To learn more, read about the fellows from current and previous years.

Candidates are evaluated on a wide range of criteria, including:

  • Demonstrated or stated commitment to working in the public interest, human rights, or government sector (collectively “public sector”) immediately upon graduation (or following a judicial clerkship).
  • Prior experience with or interest in nonprofit, community organizing, or public sector careers.
  • Skills and characteristics required to make a meaningful contribution in the public sector (e.g., collaborative, empathetic, committed to advancing justice and serving others).
  • Eagerness to participate in and contribute to a thriving and collaborative community, both virtually and in-person.

Diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion are core values of the Berger Fellows Program. We define diversity broadly, including, but not limited to, differences in race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, religion, socioeconomic background, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, military service, disability status, or other historically underrepresented groups. We strongly encourage students of all backgrounds, life experiences, abilities, and perspectives, including those that are typically underrepresented in law schools, to apply for the Berger Fellows Program.

Applications are reviewed by the Berger Fellows Program Selection Committee, which includes:

Our application process is competitive and the number of Berger Fellows that we accept each year varies. In general, we accept 40–50% of 1L applicants. The current Berger Fellow cohorts range in size from 20 to 30 fellows.

The Berger Fellows Program is a relatively limited time commitment, but active and engaged participation is expected to create a meaningful experience. Fellows commit to:

  • Devoting a few hours each month to attending programming, participating in group discussions, and meeting with mentors and career advisers.
  • Sharing responsibility for creating a supportive, collaborative community.
  • Contributing their leadership and creativity to the program. We’re looking for fellows who are eager to explore the roles they can play in the Berger Fellows community—whether serving as mentors, facilitating group discussions, or sharing ideas for future events. 

Yes. Students are encouraged to explore additional opportunities at Columbia Law School, such the Human Rights Institute 1L Advocates Program, Davis Polk Leadership Fellowship Program, student organizations, affinity groups, and dual and joint degree programs.

For additional information, contact Jean Fischmann, associate director of the Max Berger '71 Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program, at [email protected].

Jean Fischman- Headshot

"Berger Fellows have a wide range of interests, but they are all unified in their commitment to pursuing careers in social justice. Fellows can expect to work closely with advisors, faculty, and their peers, as they search for meaningful educational, employment, and internship opportunities aligned with their individual aspirations. The program creates a space to think critically about notions of justice and equity and coordinates social activities essential to fostering a strong community of public interest and public service advocates."