Thank you for your interest in the Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program. The application period for the 2021-2022 academic year is now closed. Please visit this site in May 2022 for the 2022 Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program application.

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).

Applications are reviewed by the PI/PS Fellows Program Selection Committee, which includes:

PI/PS Fellows embody a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets. To learn more, meet the 2L and 3L class of PI/PS Fellows. 

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 PI/PS Fellows Program. We are committed to having a diverse and inclusive class of PI/PS Fellows that is reflective of the societies in which we live and work. To accomplish this, 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 with backgrounds, life experiences, abilities, and perspectives that are typically underrepresented in law school to apply for the PI/PS Fellows Program.

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

The PI/PS 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 advisors.
  • 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 PI/PS Fellows community—whether serving as mentors, facilitating group discussions, or sharing ideas for future events. 

Yes. Incoming 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 Devi Patel, Director of the Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program, at [email protected].

Devi Patel, smiling with an ivy-covered wall behind her

“At Columbia Law School, every student’s path to success is unique. PI/PS Fellows can expect to work closely with the Office of Social Justice Initiatives as they explore their passions, identify their goals, and search for meaningful educational, employment, and internship opportunities aligned with their interests. We help equip PI/PS Fellows with the skills, experience, and connections they will need to pursue their individualized aspirations.”