University of California President Janet Napolitano in April 2016 announced a first-of-its-kind systemwide fellowship program to support UC law students and graduates committed to practicing law in service to the public.

The President’s Public Service Law Fellowships Program will award $4.5 million annually to promising law school students at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and UC Irvine. The funding will make post-graduate work and summer positions more accessible for students who want to pursue public service legal careers but might otherwise — out of financial need — seek private sector jobs.

The program includes:

  • Post-Graduate Public Service Law Fellowships: The program will provide $45,000 for law school graduates entering public service, plus an additional $2,500 to help defray bar-related costs.
  • Summer Public Service Law Fellowships: The program will provide $4,500 for second year students and $4,000 for first year students pursuing summer public service law positions.
  • UC Washington Program: The program will provide funding to enable UC law students to participate in the UC Washington Program — a vital UC program that gives students real-world public service experience in the nation’s capital.
  • UC National Public Service Law Conference: The program will culminate each year in a national conference on public service law that rotates among the UC law schools. The conference will showcase important legal scholarship and practice and contribute to the national conversation on public interest law.
  • UC Law Public Service Network: Through the program, fellows will have the opportunities to build relationships with other fellows at their school and across the system, creating a new network of UC public service lawyers who will support each other and future generations of UC law graduates.

In all, the fellowship program is expected to create approximately 424 summer fellowships and 58 post-graduate fellowships each year for UC law students.

UC’s four top-ranked law schools have long demonstrated a strong commitment to public interest law. These fellowships will build on that history by making UC’s law schools a destination for top law students interested in public service.

“Lawyers who serve the public interest can use the power of the law to effect positive change and strengthen our democracy,” Napolitano said. “For the benefit of California and the nation, we want to foster the public-service careers of more UC-educated legal scholars.”

The fellowship funds will be distributed proportionately based on the number of law students enrolled at each law school each year. The law schools will manage the application process and select fellowship recipients.