Diversity Summer Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions

Through generous support from the NFCJ, NACDL is proud to offer its Diversity Summer Law Fellowship program. The Fellowship provides opportunities for law students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to work with exceptional and experienced criminal defense attorneys. Students receive a weekly stipend for up to eight weeks of summer employment. 


How much does a Fellow get paid?

Each fellow can receive up to $4,500. The stipend pays $562 per week for up to 8 weeks of work.

How many fellows will be selected?

We will be selecting 6 fellows for the summer of 2023.

When are applications due?

Applications are due Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at 11:59pm local time (i.e. if you are emailing this from New York, it is due by 11:59 EST; if you are sending it from Oregon, its due by 11:59pm PST)

When will I be notified if I have been selected?

The Committee intends to notify applicants by March 20th.

How does NACDL define “diversity?”

The goal of this fellowship is to provide students from historically underrepresented backgrounds with opportunities to pursue careers in criminal defense. NACDL defines “historically underrepresented backgrounds” to include people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and persons with disabilities. This list, however, is not exhaustive. NACDL recognizes that persons of “historically underrepresented backgrounds” may not fall along traditionally recognized lines and invites applicants to explain in their submission why they feel they belong to a group that is underrepresented in the legal community.

What if I already have a summer internship?

Students may apply to receive funding for a summer internship they have already secured, providing the internship is with a criminal defense lawyer or public defense office. However, the employer will be required to complete a screening form with NACDL to affirm that the internship will provide the student with opportunities to do substantive work on criminal defense cases.

What if my summer internship is with a judge in a criminal court?

Fellows must work for a criminal defense lawyer, a law firm where they will be working on criminal cases, or a public defense office. Those clerking for judges are not eligible.

If I am seeking to be placed by the Fellowship program, do I have any input in where I will be working?

NACDL will have a broad array of potential employers including solo practitioners, firms, and state and federal public defense agencies, located throughout the U.S., to give students a wide variety of options. Students selected for fellowships will be given the opportunity to choose up to 3 sites and to rank their preferences so as to allow students the maximum opportunity to work in places of their choice. The list of participating employers is regularly updated on the Diversity Fellowship web page.

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What if I will be receiving academic credit for my internship?

The receipt of academic credit is not a barrier to eligibility for a fellowship; however, students are encouraged to check with their academic institution as to whether they can receive academic credit if they are also receiving compensation for their work.

I am a 3L student who is graduating in June but planning to intern over the summer. Can I receive a fellowship?

No, this program is only open to current 1L and 2L students, as well as part-time/evening students who will graduate in May 2024 or later.

How does payment work?

Fellows will be paid semi-monthly, on the 15th and last days of the month. All payments will be by direct deposit and are made 1 pay period behind (in other words, work completed from June 1 to June 15 will be paid on June 30; work completed from June 16 to June 30 will be paid on July 15).

NOTE: All Fellows must be eligible to legally work in the United States during their fellowship and are required to complete an I-9 in order to receive compensation.

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What if I have additional questions?

Additional questions can be directed to NACDL at:  summerfellowship@nacdl.org.