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Public Interest Law Fellows Program

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Columbia University School of Law - Public Interest Law Fellows Program 2004-2006

The program was originated in collaboration with the Constitutional and Legal Policy Institute (now Open Society Justice Initiative OSJI) and continues to be supported by OSJI and other donors.

Three of the Fellowship slots continue to be jointly administered by PILI and Justice Initiative.The program will select lawyers from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia for two years of study and practical work experience. In the past, Fellows from these countries have been joined by two Fellows from China sponsored by the Ford Foundation. The program includes undesignated slots as well as slots designated specifically for advocates of women's rights, mental disability rights and Roma rights. Criteria for selection will include the experience of the applicant, the applicant's potential to contribute to the development of the human rights or public interest law field in the region, and the suitability of the applicant's proposed role in the nominating non-governmental organization (NGO).

Applicants must have a minimum of two years relevant work experience outside of law school. Preference will be given to applicants under 35 years of age. Minorities, especially Roma, are strongly encouraged to apply. Selection decisions will be made by May 1, 2004.

The Fellows will reside a total of one year in the US, consisting of one semester of study at Columbia University and two three-month internships. Fellows will return to their home countries after the first year, where they will spend at least one year working with their nominating NGO on human rights/public interest advocacy on a non-profit basis in such areas as providing legal services, strategic litigation, campaigning for reform, and human rights training/education. Upon their selection, Fellows will be required to sign an agreement with Columbia University according to which he/she will commit to two years in the program; the first year to be spent in the US and the second year in his/her home country working with the nominating NGO.

PILI will cover the cost of a round-trip coach airfare to the US and provide each Fellow with a monthly stipend for a period of up to 12 months, a textbook allowance, and medical insurance for a year while in the US. The amount of this stipend is carefully calculated to cover the expenses of one person in the US for the period of one year. PILI will also provide a grant of $10,000 to the nominating NGO during the second year of the program to cover, in whole or in part, the Fellow's salary and wage-related taxes and payments.

More information:

PILI Website:

Columbia Law School Web-site

Email: (David Caughlin)


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