James E. Tolan Human Rights Fellowship

James E. Tolan Human Rights Fellowship

The Tolan Fellowship supports one or more graduating Fordham Law School students annually who design proposals for work at an international human rights organization they have chosen. Established in 2007, the Fellowship is awarded to individuals with a demonstrated commitment to pursuing a career in international human rights law, and will enable them to gain practical work experience, while providing a modest salary for one year. The Fellowship is named in honor of James E. Tolan ’62, a long-time supporter of the human rights program at Fordham Law School.

The Tolan Fellowship was not awarded for the 2023-2024 year. Information about availability of a 2024-2025 Tolan Fellowship will be available in fall 2023.


Graduating Class of 2024 J.D. students from Fordham Law School are eligible for the Tolan Fellowship. Note that the Selection Committee is not required to award any fellowships in the absence of sufficiently qualified applicants.

Funding Details

The Tolan Fellowship provides a one-year stipend of $40,000. The funding is provided by the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham to the host organization, which will pay the Fellow. Fellows must make a commitment to work at their sponsoring organization full time for one full calendar year beginning in September 2024.

Application Requirements and Instructions

The Tolan Fellowship is a project fellowship in which the candidate must propose a project of their own creation that they will undertake at a host organization. Candidates should contact potential hosts and explore the possibility of a placement well before the Fellowship deadline. Applicants are invited to design projects that draw on their legal education and experience at Fordham Law School and may address human rights, development, and justice issues anywhere in the world. Because of funding opportunities available elsewhere for domestic public interest fellowship placements, project proposals based outside of the United States may be the most competitive. Applicants are strongly encourage to contact Leitner Center Executive Director Elisabeth Wickeri (wickeri@law.forhdam.edu) with questions or as they plan their proposals.

Information about Tolan Fellowship availability and deadlines will be available in fall 2022.

Applicants should submit the materials below in a single, complete pdf application packet to LeitnerCenter@law.fordham.edu with the email subject “Leitner Center Tolan Fellowship”:

  1. Summary Page, listing applicants name, address, and phone number; the host organization’s name and address; a contact person at the organization; and a 2-5 sentence project description summary.
  2. Curriculum Vitae, including information about classes, work and extracurricular activities in public interest and human rights;
  3. Personal Statement, setting forth: the applicant’s relevant experience, interest, and future aspirations with respect to human rights work. The statement should include a discussion of the place of the fellowship in the applicant’s career plans;
  4. Project proposal setting forth: the need the project will address; how the project will work; and the goals of the project. The proposal should also include a description of the sponsoring organization and of its work in the local and international context and a discussion of the project and its relation to the work of the organization;
  5. Host Organization Commitment Letter, describing their purpose, function, and interest in the work of the applicant; the training and supervision they will provide for the Fellow; and how the Fellow’s project will further the human rights work of the organization;
  6. Letters of Recommendation from two or three references, including at least one from a Fordham Law School professor;
  7. Fordham Law School transcript

Selection Process

The Tolan Fellowship Selection Committee will consider the applicant’s relevant human rights experience and academic performance, the value and potential impact of the proposed project, the capacity of the proposed organization to host the applicant and the relevance of the project for the career plans of the applicant.

The Selection Committee is not required to award any fellowships in the absence of sufficiently qualified applicants.

Interviews may be required for finalists.

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Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
Fordham University School of Law
150 West 62nd Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10023 USA

Email: LeitnerCenter@law.fordham.edu
Telephone: 212.636.6862
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Catherine Powell
Professor of Law

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