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The Public Service Venture Fund (PSVF) awards up to $1 million in grants each year to help graduating Harvard Law School students and alumni ignite the public service careers of their dreams. The fund gives two types of grants: organization-based fellowships for innovative postgraduate work at a nonprofit or government agency and seed grants for start-up nonprofit ventures that serve the public. While seed grants can only go to student-led ventures, organization-based fellowships place students at existing organizations and are thus open for sponsorship by employers. Learn more about the mission and goals of the PSVF.
Important guidelines for sponsoring an HLS Organization-Based Fellowship include:
While HLS prefers that the sponsoring organization pay health care benefits for the fellow, sponsoring organizations are not required to do so. Note, however, that an organization’s willingness to pay for a fellow’s health care costs may be a factor when selecting among equally qualified fellowship applicants.
The fellow may do the traditional work of any staff attorney at the host organization, or he or she may work on a specialized project developed jointly by the sponsoring organization and the applicant. However, this choice must be delineated in the application materials.
Employers should know that, in order to maximize the number of students happily employed, we encourage our students to seek external jobs, including judicial clerkships, and fellowship in the fields of their interest throughout their 3L/LL.M./clerkship year, and even after they apply for the HLS fellowships. For this reason, if a student or clerk receives a public interest job offer or an external fellowship before the HLS process concludes, he or she might withdraw from the HLS fellowship application process even after having partnered with a sponsoring organization.
Sponsoring organizations that have a history of hiring fellows at the end of their fellowship year, particularly HLS fellows, will be viewed especially favorably.
Sponsoring organizations must submit a sponsoring organization letter delineating:
The Organization-Based Fellowships cover one year’s work, typically with a September start date and August end date. However, HLS will grant permission for a fellow to leave a month or two early if the fellow has secured a permanent public interest position that requires him or her to start before the end date of the Organization-Based Fellowship. In this case, funding will be prorated in accordance with the amount of time the fellow has spent working at the organization.
Sponsoring organizations agree that if they host a fellow they will treat him or her as an entry level attorney, (even though he or she may only be there for one year), and provide the fellow with substantive work, supervision and feedback, as well as opportunities for professional development.
Sponsoring organizations will be asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the fellow and HLS. Although we do not ask sponsoring organizations to guarantee employment at the end of the year, if the employer has found the fellow to be a good fit, HLS expects that the fellow will be given priority consideration for any entry-level position that opens up during the course of, or directly after, the fellowship year.
HLS has also created an Early Decision Fellowship for Underserved Jurisdictions with final bar deadlines that fall before the completion of the selection process for the normal HLS Organization-Based Fellowships. For more information on this option, contact Alexa Shabecoff, Assistant Dean for Public Service, at email@example.com.
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