The HOPE Fellows Program allows public interest minded students to create summer dream jobs and work across the globe to effectuate change. To do this, the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center provides stipends to law students who work in uncompensated public interest jobs during the summer. HOPE Fellows work with local, national, and international public interest and government agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to provide much-needed legal advocacy. Since 2000, the program has evolved from two local placements to include national placements in locations such as Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco, as well as international placements in countries such as Tanzania, Namibia, Lebanon, China, Colombia, Bolivia, Haiti, and Kuwait.
HOPE Fellows Program Requirements
- All rising Miami Law 2Ls and 3Ls who are in good academic standing are eligible to apply. Priority is given to students who have a demonstrated commitment to public service and financial need.
- Over the course of the summer, Fellows must complete a minimum of 360 hours of work over a period of no less than 9 weeks.
- HOPE Fellows have an ongoing reporting and feedback commitment throughout the duration of their placement.
- Fellows must submit weekly journals reflecting on their experience and must participate in online discussions of scholarly and topically relevant articles.
- Each Fellow receives a $5,000 stipend for otherwise uncompensated work at a public interest agency during the summer.
- HOPE Fellows inspire their peers by creating progressive advocacy projects for Miami Law students to foster awareness on critical issues of public interest. HOPE Fellows are required to educate and engage their peers on the issues/barriers to justice explored in the HOPE Fellowship and discuss their work and experience in an information session on campus in either the fall or spring semester.
- Fellows do not receive school credit for the work. They may not be enrolled in courses concurrently.
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HOPE Fellowship Placement FAQs
Q: How does a student find a placement?
A: Students must propose a placement of their own choosing. Students should start by identifying the geographic and topical areas in which they have an interest. A good place to start is to read past HOPE Fellow bios on the HOPE website. Need more ideas? Search on PSJD and Equal Justice Works to find out about exciting organizations. Talk to faculty, classmates, and alumni who have been engaged in public interest and pro bono service. Be creative–this is an opportunity for students to create their dream jobs!
Q: When seeking a host agency, what kinds of questions should one ask?
A: When contacting an agency, take the time to research what they already do and who they have staffed at their organization. Check if they have any Miami Law alumni. Think about what help a fellow can offer, before calling, and ask them about their needs. More than likely, the agency will appreciate the sincere interest and proposal to assist in their offices. Be patient, but also be persistent. Students should describe who they are (Miami Law student dedicated to public interest, rising 2L or 3L, interested in immigration, human rights (with a particular area of focus), bankruptcy, etc...) and how they would like to go about helping the agency to serve the clients/community.
Q: How is a HOPE Fellowship beneficial after graduation from Miami Law?
A: A HOPE Fellowship provides legal experience through on-the-job training in legal writing and research, and advocacy while working under the supervision of licensed attorneys. In addition, students will engage in project development with the guidance of a HOPE staff attorney. The HOPE Fellowship is highly competitive and obtaining this award is a great distinction for any resume. In addition, students will have a resource in former and future HOPE Fellows as well as the ongoing support of the HOPE team.
Q: What if a student does not intend to practice full-time in the public interest?
A: While a commitment to public service is a factor in the selection process, HOPE understands that everyone’s career goals are different. HOPE's goal is to instill within each law student a pro bono ethic. Miami Law students will carry these experiences into the public and private sector and effectuate change in many ways.
Q: Is it possible to split the summer among two placements?
A: No. HOPE Fellows must complete at least 360 hours over the course of no less than 9 weeks at one placement. Any additional hours spent at another placement will not count towards the hour requirement of the HOPE Fellowship. However, hours in excess of the 360 hours, should be logged as pro bono hours.
Q: Can one work for a private attorney or private firm that does pro bono?
A: No. All HOPE Fellows must work with a non-profit or government agency.
Q: Can a student work at a public interest agency that does not have an attorney on staff?
A: No. All HOPE Fellows must work under the direct supervision of an attorney so they have the opportunity to work with exceptional lawyers to develop advocacy skills. While it is understood that there are many meaningful opportunities with agencies dedicated to promoting justice who do not have an attorney on staff, this particular program requires a supervising attorney on site.
Q: When can a student expect to hear about his or her fellowship?
A: Interviews will take place in late February and early March of 2018. Offers will be extended by mid-March, with student commitments required by the end of March.
Q: What should one prepare for the interview?
A: Treat the interview like a job interview. Students should be ready to discuss their goals and why they feel they are an exceptional candidate for the HOPE Fellowship.
Q: What if one does not secure a HOPE Fellowship?
A: Other resources for summer funding include the Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program (for rising 2Ls), Equal Justice Works Summer Corps, and many opportunities featured online. Search PSJD, Symplicity, and Equal Justice Works to get a full picture of the options. 1Ls will have another opportunity to apply for a HOPE Fellowship next year! Miami Law is dedicated to ensuring that students have opportunities to develop advocacy skillsets while helping others. Be sure to check into summer clinic placements, externships, courses with field components and other opportunities offered through Miami Law.
Applications will be available by December 2017. The deadline will be in mid-February 2018. Interviews will take place in late February and early March and decisions will be made by mid-March. For more information, email email@example.com.