Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of projects will the Public Interest Fellowship support?
The Public Interest Fellowship will support any proposal that addresses the civil legal needs of indigent Georgians and that also provides learning, student practice and service opportunities for law students. Examples of possible projects could include: representation in court on a particular legal issue; transactional and planning assistance to low-income citizens on personal or business concerns; a program of targeted community legal education; a program to enhance access to courts or agencies. We encourage applicants to be creative, while at the same time considering how the project will provide learning opportunities for law students.
Does the Public Interest Fellowship prioritize particular substantive areas for projects?
No. Plausible proposals might address needs that include: family life (including child care, support, protective services, or domestic violence); consumer concerns; shelter and housing; income maintenance; small business development; community empowerment; and many, many others. Project proposals might also choose to address the needs of particular underserved populations, including groups defined by age, medical condition, community, race, ethnicity, and the like.
The Fellowship Program will focus solely on civil legal assistance, and thus excludes representation in the criminal justice system. However, project proposals might address the civil legal needs encountered by individuals who have been accused or convicted of a crime.
Must project work occur in Georgia? Must it occur in the Athens area?
Projects must provide services to the citizens of Georgia. However, it is possible that a project might also benefit citizens of other states and that a regional focus might provide a better guarantee of long-term support for the project.
Project work does not have to occur in the Athens, Georgia, area. The Fellowship Program does ask that the proposal provide learning opportunities for law students at the University of Georgia School of Law. Proposals for service in Athens would provide obvious geographical advantages for this purpose. However, we encourage flexibility in considering the different ways in which law students might engage in project-related work, including research and support, externship opportunities and summer work. This flexibility should assure that services can occur where they are most needed in Georgia.
The Fellowship requires that law students be involved in the project's work. What does that mean? What are the different ways that a Fellow might work with law students?
Fellows will be asked to work with law students, and law students can work with each Fellow, in three distinct ways. First, the Fellow will be asked to co-teach a class with a law school clinical faculty member in which the need that they propose to address forms a primary topic of discussion. The opportunity and challenge of teaching the project as a classroom topic should encourage thorough and creative exploration of the proposed project.
Second, Fellows may call on law students to help with research, investigation and other practical support for the project. Law students could engage with the Fellow as paid research assistants (with the Fellowship stipend as the source of payment) or in for-credit research and project opportunities under the law school's existing curriculum.
Third, Fellows will be asked to assure law student engagement in project work and service provision. The exact nature of law student engagement will vary with the nature of the project. For projects that provide litigation or administrative advocacy, project proposals could rely to a significant extent on student practice under relevant student practice rules; or students could serve as litigation/advocacy assistants in connection with preparation for hearings. For projects of community education, students might help to prepare and to deliver relevant presentations. For projects involving transactional counseling and drafting, students might serve both as interviewers and as drafters of relevant plans and supporting documents.
Fellows will thus be asked to work with students in classroom settings, in work supervision, or in clinical interactions about specific law practice tasks. Each Fellow will consult with the Fellowship Coordinator about exactly how the project might enhance the learning experiences of students, and how law students might in turn expand or improve the service.
When do Fellowships start?
Somewhere between August 1 and September 1 each year. The timing assures the Fellow will teach at a minimum during the fall semester at the University of Georgia School of Law.
Each Fellow must work at the law school during the initial, teaching and research period of the Fellowship. How long does this period last? What do Fellows do during this period? Must they reside in Athens?
Fellows must work at the law school for at least one semester and for no more than one full calendar year. The exact length of time will depend on the nature of the proposal and its relationship to existing services. For example, an entirely new project may require a longer time to develop, requiring additional time at the law school. By contrast, a proposal that enhances or expands an existing service might begin those services much sooner. Each Fellow will work with the Fellowship Coordinator to determine the exact length of the teaching and research phase.
During this phase, the Fellow must co-teach in at least one course, on a topic related to the proposed service, as described above. In addition, the Fellow will have office space at the law school, as well as computing and secretarial support. We encourage the Fellow to use this period to engage in research, outreach, networking and resource creation in connection with project services. Fellows will need to establish and maintain regular contact with the host and the Georgia community in which the service will occur. At the same time, Fellows will also have the opportunity, with support from the Fellowship stipend, to explore and even visit other similar services elsewhere in the country. Finally, with the assistance of the Fellowship Coordinator, Fellows will have the opportunity to make contact with interested academics and to use the wealth of library and other information resources available to them at the University of Georgia.
Fellows may, but are not required to, reside in Athens during the teaching and research phase. At the same time, Fellows must be available to teach and to be available to students during this period and will be encouraged to take advantage of relevant resources at the law school and the university generally. The Fellowship requires a full-time commitment during all phases of the project, so Fellows should ensure that work performed elsewhere during the teaching and research phase relate to the development of the project.
Once project services have begun, what relationship will the Fellow have to the host organization? To law students? To the law school?
The host organization serves as the primary location from which the Fellow provides direct client services. It is expected that the Fellow will relocate from the law school to the host organization when active project service begins. Once that transition occurs, the Fellow may, but has no obligation to, maintain a presence at the law school. However, the Fellow must actively supervise those law students who will be assisting the Fellow with project services. The Fellow must also maintain regular periodic contact with the Fellowship Coordinator, who will visit the Fellow at the host organization at least once during the service phase of the project.
What kinds of reporting is required of Fellows?
Fellows must write four reports during the period of their Fellowship, at six month intervals. The first report should occur shortly after the Fellow has drafted the initial project proposal. The second should occur at the transition from the research and teaching phase to the service phase of the project. This report should summarize the Fellow's activities during the initial phase and must set forth a specific plan of action for the project, using criteria developed by the Fellow and the Fellowship Coordinator. The third report will occur mid-way through the delivery of the service year. The fourth report should occur at the close of the service phase, should assess the success of the project, and should contain a description of the ongoing, longer-term effect of the project. The Fellow will be asked to present each report to the Fellowship Coordinator. Following the completion of the fourth report, the Fellow will have no further obligations under the Fellowship.