The Leitner Center Summer Fellows internship program is designed to provide Fordham Law students with the opportunity to gain practical experience and education in the theory and application of international human rights law. The Program provides students with stipends of up to $5,000 to work with international human rights organizations full-time for a minimum of ten weeks over the summer. Students awarded stipends are also encouraged to develop their scholarly interest in the work they undertake over the summer with an eye towards producing a note or other publication upon their return to Fordham. To that end, the Center offers a human rights drafting course for Leitner Summer Fellows who wish to turn their summer experiences into a note for submission to the Fordham Law Review or International Law Journal, among others.
Leitner Summer Fellows file a report about their experiences and also contribute to Rights Wire, the blog of the Center, about their summer experiences. Since it began in 2004, the Summer Fellows internship program has sent law students to countries all over the world including Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Nepal, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. To see where and with which organizations interns have worked before, visit this page.
Students are required to identify and secure an internship at a non-governmental organization, U.N. agency, or other human rights organization with which they intend to partner. After securing an internship with the partner organization, students can apply for a stipend from the Leitner Internship Program. Stipends are intended to support work in that field that will further students’ international legal training.
Students are encouraged to meet with Executive Director, Elisabeth Wickeri, for human rights internship counseling and suggestions. Students should also review:
- The Leitner Center’s Guide to Securing an International Human Rights Internship
- Suggested Placements: organizations with whom the Leitner Center has pre-existing relationships. Some organizations have requested that applications initially be reviewed by the Leitner Center. Review the list and any specific application procedures
- Summer Fellows student internship binders: These binders include feedback and reviews from past Leitner Summer Fellows and are located at the Leitner Center.
The Leitner Center encourages students to identify their own placement organization and will not cover any fees associated with placement organizations that solicit payment.
Leitner Summer Fellows internship stipends are open to all current Fordham Law School Students, including LL.Ms and evening students, subject to the below Terms and Conditions.
Students who have participated in the Leitner Summer Fellows internship program at the end of their 1L year are eligible to apply for a second Leitner Summer Fellows internship stipend again at the end of their 2L year. Selection as a Leitner Summer Fellow does not in any way prejudice your acceptance into the Crowley Scholars Program in your 2L year.
Only students who plan to return to their studies at Fordham Law School following their summer internships are eligible for the Leitner Center Summer Fellows program. For instance, 3L or LL.M. students graduating in the spring will not be eligible to seek funding for summer internships that take place after graduation.
Terms and Conditions
Leitner Summer Fellow stipends are granted contingent upon fulfillment of the following conditions:
- Attendance at Leitner Center events
Students must attend their choice of at least five events sponsored by the Leitner Center during each of the two semesters preceding the summer (a total of 10 events). Eligible events include the Brown Bag Lunch series, film screenings, and discussion panels, among others. Sign-in sheets will be provided at these events.
(Exceptions may apply to this requirement – please contact the Leitner Center if you have questions or concerns.)
Students must identify and apply for an internship with a partner organization (a non-governmental organization, U.N. agency, or other organization working on international human rights issues). Students must secure the internship with the partner organization and commit to working fulltime for a minimum of 10 weeks over the summer.
Over the course of the summer, and with the consent of the host organization, students agree to submit at least two blogs to Rights Wire, the blog of the Center, documenting their experience. Upon completion of their fieldwork, students submit a three- to five-page report on the experience together with their final budget. Students must submit each of these items satisfactorily and in a timely manner in order to receive the balance of the grant for which they were approved.
Students who are awarded the Leitner Summer Fellows internship stipend and have not taken an international human rights class at Fordham Law School will be required to attend 1 pre-summer training and orientation session.
Students are also encouraged, but not required, to enroll in a special two-credit seminar for Leitner Interns in the fall semester following their summer fieldwork in order to develop the scholarly aspects of the internship with an eye toward publishing a note or other publication.
The application deadline for the Summer Fellows program is April 17, 2020.
Students identify a non-governmental organization, U.N. agency, or other human rights organization with which they intend to partner. Only after applying for and securing an internship with the partner organization do students apply for internship funding through the Leitner Center.
The application should be sent in one complete package, comprising of:
- Cover letter: A one-page letter stating your interest and reasons for applying to work with a human rights organization, relevant past experience, and what you hope to gain from the experience.
- Résumé or CV
- Project proposal: A detailed application for funding to work with the specific partner organization you have identified. The proposal should include:
- a description of the partnering organization
- a project description identifying the particular human rights issue that will be the focus of the internship and describing the kind of work that the student expects to undertake. The project description should describe the human rights issue and why it is significant. The student should consult with their partner organization to identify the basic contours of the project they will be expected to work on.
- a rough budget outlining the financial needs anticipated to undertake the internship.
- a letter/e-mail of support from the partnering organization confirming that the applicant has been accepted as an intern for a minimum of ten weeks and briefly describing the project agreed upon.
- Transcripts: Undergraduate and Fordham Law School transcripts (official or unofficial).
- Letter of recommendation: One letter from a professor or employer.
Applications should be emailed in one complete package to email@example.com.
Note: Students may apply for funding before receiving confirmation from their partner organization that they have been selected as an intern in order to meet the funding deadline set by the Leitner Center. In these cases, students should indicate that they are waiting to hear from their partner organization. A stipend may be awarded contingent on final confirmation by the partner organization. In these cases, students may apply to receive funding at more than one partner organization, but must submit a project proposal for each. Only one stipend will be awarded per student.
Evaluation and selection
Applications are evaluated based on the originality and significance of the project, the qualifications of the student to complete the project, the student’s demonstrated interest in international human rights, and the student’s overall academic record. In some cases, interviews will be scheduled. The Leitner Summer Internship program is primarily designed to encourage students to carry out international human rights work abroad, nevertheless, the committee will consider applications for human rights internships based in the United States.
Stipend determination and disbursal
The Leitner Center will review the budget submitted as part of the project proposal and provide a grant of up to $5,000 to cover the costs of an internship. Students will be paid a portion of their stipend before the summer and the balance of approved funds at the end of the summer once the final report and budget have been submitted in a satisfactory and timely manner.
Students who are also Stein Scholars are permitted to receive a total of $5,000 for their summer internship. Therefore, any stipend awarded by the Leitner Center will be reduced by the total of any funding provided to them as Stein Scholars.
Please note that expenses related to some internship placements, including airfare, housing, inoculations, and living expenses, may exceed the amount provided by the stipend.