How Do I Get Started?

Particularly for project based fellowships, you need to engage in self-assessment by asking yourself some questions.

  • What, specifically, do you want to be doing? Individual representation? Advocacy? Coalition-building? Policy development? Impact litigation?
  • What is the need for your project? Who is the community to be served? How is your project distinct?
  • What measurable outcomes/goals do you want to achieve? 
  • How does the project fit with your longer-term career goals? 
  • Who do you need to get on board or to develop relationships with for your project to succeed?
  • What in your background/interests prepares you to do this project? What is your particular passion for or connection to this project?
  • With whom do you want to work? From whom will you learn? Who will be a good co-worker/mentor?

In addition to answering these questions, you should review summaries of projects that fellowship sponsors have funded in the past.  Then think about the subject areas that interest you the most. Spend some time researching the cutting-edge issues in the area. This research should include not only library-based research (e.g., law review articles), but also consultation with faculty members and practicing lawyers.

Once you have developed your project, you must identify the organization(s) that may be interested in having you work with them if you obtain a fellowship. The best place to start is with an organization with which you have previous contacts, perhaps through an internship or summer job. Another approach is to use alumni or faculty contacts. The sponsoring agency does not have to be a "big name;" however, funders are concerned with whether the sponsor is qualified to house and supervise your project (in addition to scrutinizing the feasibility and overall benefit of your project).