Launched in 2013, the Ford Foundation Law School Public Interest Fellowship program offers 100 of the country’s top law students an opportunity to gain experience on the frontlines of public interest law around the world. In their internships with domestic and international grantee organizations whose work focuses broadly on legal analysis, litigation and public policy advocacy, students gain practical experience in the field.


This month, the inaugural group of fellows will gather at the foundation to celebrate their achievements and explore the power of public interest law. On October 25, fellows are invited to attend a reception featuring a special performance of “Lyrics from Lockdown” by hip-hop artist and activist Bryonn Bain, introduced by Harvard University law professor Lani Guinier. Then on October 26, a symposium will offer the opportunity to share professional experiences and build a learning community.


During the daylong symposium, a series of panel discussions featuring Ford Foundation program officers and international and domestic grantees will explore the role public interest lawyers can play in human rights advocacy and advancing justice and equality. Justice Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa will deliver a keynote address, and fellows will also hear from Dawn Porter, director of the JustFilms-supported documentary Gideon’s Army, and Steven R. Shapiro, legal director of the ACLU. In the afternoon, fellows will split into small groups focused on a range of legal and social justice issues, led by Ford staff and grantees.


Through this unique program, our fellows have gained knowledge and understanding that will inform their careers, while bringing fresh talent to organizations working to advance fairness and freedom.