Diversity Task Force Summer Law Fellowships

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) invites ABA accredited law school students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to work as Summer NACDL Fellows with exceptional, experienced, criminal defense attorney NACDL members for up to eight (8) weeks in active criminal defense practices.

About the Fellowship

The purpose of each fellowship is to advance diversity in the criminal defense community by providing opportunities to gain hands-on, practical experience on real cases to law students and recent law school graduates from historically underrepresented populations who are interested in criminal practice.  Each Fellow will receive a weekly stipend of $500.00. All of the 2017 Fellowship Mentors practice in a variety of criminal defense cases; their primary focus is listed next to each placement city: New York (Public Defender); San Francisco (State/Federal White Collar/Street Crimes), and Washington, D.C. (Federal/Superior Court).

How to Apply

Interested applicants must 1) be law students in good academic standing enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school at the time the application is submitted; 2) fully complete the entry form (including the hypothetical question), available at www.nacdl.org/diversityfellowship/entryform2017 (PDF); 3) submit a personalized one-page cover letter that addresses a) a first & second placement preference and b) why the applicant wants to be a NACDL Fellow; and 4) submit a 1-2 page resume. TIP: Fellowship Mentors from each placement city will select and contact students for interviews and choose the Fellow to join their criminal defense practice for the summer; applicants should consider demonstrating their persuasive/advocacy skills in describing their interest in the city and/or practice area. ALL APPLICANTS MUST EMAIL A COMPLETED APPLICATION PACKAGE TO DANIEL WEIR AT dweir@nacdl.org BY FEBRUARY 22ND, 2017 BY 4:00 P.M. EASTERN TIME. Files must be submitted using the following format: “Lastname, Firstname – Entry Form,” “Lastname, Firstname – Cover Letter,” etc. PDF files are preferred. 


To confirm receipt of submission or for other questions, contact Daniel Weir at dweir@nacdl.org, attention: NACDL Fellowship.

Download an entry form. (PDF)


NACDL, located in Washington, D.C., is the nation’s preeminent bar association, with members in every state and from many nations, serving the criminal defense profession and is committed to serving a diverse and inclusive community of lawyers. NACDL’s mission is to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime; foster the integrity, independence and expertise of the criminal defense profession; and promote the proper and fair administration of criminal justice. It provides opportunities for attorneys to connect, share information and learn from one another.

One of NACDL’s goals is to increase the number of young lawyers, women, and people of color practicing criminal defense. A disproportionate number of criminal defendants come from minority communities. It is, therefore, imperative that criminal defense attorneys be able to move our criminal justice system towards a better understanding of language, culture, customs, and economic conditions that correspond to our clients. By attracting more diverse members to the criminal defense bar, we will increase the likelihood that our clients’ racial, ethnic, and personally diverse histories will be explained and portrayed more accurately to prosecutors, juries and judges because those diverse attorneys can teach what they already understand about what it means to be diverse in a majority society.

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