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Stanford Law School Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships

Six of the most recent alumni chosen as Fellows were reunited at the 2013 SPILF pre-auction reception. Left to right: Michael Caesar, JD '11; Shira Levine, JD '12; Maureen Keffer, JD '11; Meredith Johnson, JD '12; Christy Holstege, JD '12; and Stephanie Klitsch, JD '12.


Stanford Law School’s Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law offers postgraduate Public Interest Fellowships which enable nine recipients to each work full-time for a year in a law-related endeavor designed to further the public interest.  These are separate from other postgraduate Stanford Law School fellowships focused on substantive areas (e.g., international human rights, criminal defense).

SLS funds three positions and the Ford Foundation funds six positions. Thus, there are different eligibility requirements, but there will be one joint selection process.


For the SLS fellowships, all members of the SLS JD Classes of 2013-2015 who have not previously been awarded a post-graduate legal fellowship or government honors/new attorney program position are eligible to apply.  The Ford Foundation fellowships are limited to currently enrolled JD students from the class of 2015 and alumni from the class of 2014 who have not previously been awarded a post-graduate legal fellowship or government honors/new attorney program position

The SLS program allows applicants to propose placements at any domestic 501(c)(3) non-profit organization or international tax-exempt non-governmental organization that provides legal services for underrepresented communities or otherwise serves the public interest. The Ford Foundation fellowships are limited to placements with pre-approved sponsoring organizations who are current/former Ford Foundation grant recipients.

Sponsoring entities are not required to make any financial contributions toward the Fellow’s salary or benefits but must demonstrate their ability to support the Fellow (e.g., appropriate supervision, adequate office space, resources to support program expenses).

Eligible organizations may engage in direct legal services, impact litigation, or policy advocacy, either domestically or abroad. Applicants do not need to propose creation of a new project but should outline the responsibilities they anticipate undertaking if selected.   

Applicants interested in Ford Foundation Fellowships must identify a host from one of the Ford Foundation grantees listed on this spreadsheet.

There is one joint application for both fellowship programs.  Applicants eligible for both programs may rank their choices (e.g., SLS Fellowship host is the first choice, Ford Foundation grantee host is second choice).


Each fellowship will include a one-year salary of $45,000 and the same benefits that the sponsoring organization would ordinarily provide to an employee at the recipient’s level (up to $15,000 maximum).  Grants will be made to the sponsoring organization only, not directly to the alumnus/a. Moreover, the Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program will provide additional funds directly to the alumni to meet qualifying educational loan repayment obligations during the fellowship year.

This year's deadline is January 28, 2015.  Interviews will be conducted on Saturday morning, Feb. 21, 2015.

The Selection Committee will include the Dean of the Law School, members of the faculty, an alumnus/a who previously served as an SLS Fellow, and a member of the Levin Center staff. Selection will occur by the beginning of March 2015. 

In reviewing each application, the committee will consider several factors, including the applicant’s commitment to a career in public interest law, the potential impact of the applicant’s work, and the capacity of the sponsoring organization to provide meaningful supervision to the fellow.  In evaluating these factors, the committee will look to the application and accompanying essays, law school record, recommendations, and organizational letter of support.

The fellowship will last for one year, beginning in or around September 2015. Fellows must submit quarterly reports describing their experience to the law school


The fellowship program was established in 2008 in partnership with the Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation. Starting with the 2014-2015 fellowship year, the three positions will be wholly funded by Stanford Law School and six positions are being funded by the Ford Foundation.

The three 2014-2015 SLS Fellows are:

  • Chantal Johnson, JD '14, who represents mentally ill clients of the Bronx Defenders in civil legal matters, including public housing and benefits, and is building the agency's Social Security practice by creating model briefs and developing an internal training manual outlining how to represent mentally ill clients in Social Security proceedings;
  • Sophia Lin Lakin, JD '12, who is at the ACLU, Voting Rights Project, developing new legal and policy approaches and leveraging existing ones to challenge restrictive state and local laws, expand registration and ballot access, and protect minority voting rights; and
  • Katie Traverso, JD '12, who works with the ACLU of Southern California to provide legal advocacy on behalf of the immigrant and Latino communities in Kern County, California, who are denied access to essential social services and subjected to civil rights abuses due to local authorities' collaboration with immigration enforcement.

Past recipients that were jointly funded by SLS and SPILF are:

  • Meredith Johnson, JD '12, who worked at the Impact Fund in Berkeley, California, advocating on behalf of immigrant women farmworkers in California's Central Valley who are sexually harassed at work or who suffer retaliation for reporting harassment;
  • Shira Levine, JD '12 who was at Legal Aid Society - Employment Law Center in San Francisco, California, representing low-wage, subcontracted immigrant workers who face routine wage theft from their employers;
  • Christy Holstege, JD '12, who independently established a legal clinic within Shelter from the Storm, a domestic violence shelter-based agency in California’s rural Coachella Valley;
  • Stephanie Klitsch, JD '12, who continues to work at the Council for Children’s Rights in Charlotte, North Carolina after spending her fellowship year focused on improving educational opportunities for foster youth with emotional and behavioral disabilities through client representation and community education;
  • Michael Caesar, JD '11, who spent his fellowship year with the Impact Fund in Berkeley, California, working to protect those who have been refused employment or wrongfully terminated because of their citizenship status or national origin;
  • Maureen Keffer, JD '11, who spent her fellowship year with California Rural Legal Assistance in its Salinas office representing indigenous Mexicans and other farmworkers who are victims of human trafficking and labor issues;
  • Michael Kaufman, JD '07, who is now a staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California after spending his fellowship year with them to improve inhumane and unlawful conditions at Southern California immigration detention facilities;
  • Jessica Oats, JD '09, who is also now a staff attorney with the same organization that hosted her fellowship, Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia (and she is featured in our Spring 2010 newsletter); and
  • Thomas Nosewicz, JD '08, who is now a staff attorney with the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York, after having spent his fellowship year with the Special Litigation Department of the Orleans Public Defender in New Orleans, LA (and is featured in our Summer 2010 newsletter).

Please address all questions regarding the fellowship to