2015 JDDF Frequently Asked Questions

For Applicants

  • What Kind of Fellowship Sponsor Qualifies?

    The Fellowship Sponsor may be a for-profit or non-profit organization and it may be located in the United States or abroad. Be sure to choose a Fellowship Sponsor that will provide you with excellent supervision, substantive legal or law-related work, and experience that will bolster the narrative of your resume.

  • I Did Not Receive a JD Degree from AUWCL, but I am Graduating from an AUWCL LLM Program in 2015. Can I Apply?

    No. You must be a JD graduate from the AUWCL Class of 2015 (meaning that you graduated or will graduate in December 2014, May 2015, or August 2015) in order to apply in 2015.

  • What if I Secure a Permanent Position During the Fellowship?

    Because Fellows are expected to engage in a continuing job search, some Fellows will secure permanent employment before the end of their fellowships. In that case, Fellows will end participation in the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program (the “JDDF Program”) early and forego any future payments, but will not be required to return any of the funding already received. In the event that a Fellow must end his or her fellowship early, the Fellow is expected to give the Fellowship Sponsor as much notice as possible (at least two weeks). The Fellow will contact the Office of Career and Professional Development (“OCPD”) at careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu to alert the office of the impending termination of the fellowship. The Fellow will work with the Fellowship Sponsor to ensure that all assignments have been completed or that someone has been identified to finish each assignment. The Fellow will complete a transfer memo for each assignment, if appropriate.

  • Are There Any Reporting Requirements of the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program?

    Yes. Fellows agree that they will respond in a timely manner to all requests from the Finance Office, OCPD, and any other AUWCL office regarding their fellowships and careers, including but not limited to surveys about the fellowship experience, updates on the progress of their job search, ABA and other such surveys about post-graduate employment outcomes, and participation in quarterly conference calls.

  • Is There a Cost of Living Adjustment For Geographic Location?

    There will not be any “cost of living” adjustments based on geographic location.

  • Am I Still Eligible to Apply if My Hours Do Not Meet the Stated Requirements?

    Your Fellowship Sponsor must be able to commit to providing you with at least an average of 35 hours of substantive legal or law-related work per week over the course of the fellowship.

  • What is Considered “Substantive Legal or Law-Related Work”?

    The JDDF Program is designed for graduates to accept temporary employment that will advance their career development. The JD Distinguished Fellowship Selection Committee will review applications for position descriptions that will enhance the recipient's career advancement in a meaningful and substantive way. There is no requirement that the applicant be “practicing law,” per se. However, the Fellow must be primarily engaged in substantive legal or law-related work such as substantive legal research, policy analysis, memo drafting, client interviewing, and court appearances, for example. The Fellow may not spend any substantial period of time on administrative duties such as copying, scanning, updating databases, answering phones, etc. While it is acceptable that a Fellow performs his or her own administrative work as it arises in the context of his or her substantive work, the Fellow may not routinely perform someone else's administrative work.

  • Can I Apply if I am Graduating from the AUWCL JD Program But Also Pursuing an AUWCL LLM Degree?

    AUWCL offers three options for 2015 AUWCL JD graduates who are interested in pursuing an AUWCL LLM degree immediately after graduation: (1) a 25% tuition reduction coupled with a $12,500 Graduate Legal Fellowship; (2) a 50% tuition reduction; or (3) no tuition reduction for those graduates who are participating in the JDDF Program.

    1. Graduate Legal Fellowship and 25% Tuition Reduction

      Applicants who are not selected for the JDDF Program may elect to have their applications considered for a Graduate Legal Fellowship within one of the three LLM programs at AUWCL. Graduate Legal Fellows enroll in the 24-credit LLM degree at AUWCL and receive a 25% tuition reduction and a stipend of $12,500 to allow them to pursue graduate legal studies at AUWCL. During each of the two fourteen-week semesters in which the Graduate Legal Fellow is enrolled in the LLM Program, the Fellow is expected to work at least 10 hours per week (or more pursuant to their agreement with their Fellowship Sponsor) with the Fellowship Sponsor listed in the JDDF Program application. Graduate Legal Fellowships are available in a variety of specializations in a given year. Availability of a Graduate Legal Fellowship in a field is dependent on the quality of applicants and availability of resources. Current areas of focus and additional information about the Graduate Legal Fellowship and AUWCL's LLM programs is available at https://www.wcl.american.edu/llm/glf.

      Graduates may not be selected for both the JDDF Program and the Graduate Legal Fellowship. Applicants who indicate an interest in the Graduate Legal Fellowship will be considered for that fellowship only if the applicant is not first selected for the JDDF Program. Applicants' requests that they be considered for the Graduate Legal Fellowship will have no bearing on the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program Selection Committee's assessment of the JDDF Program applications.

    2. 50% Tuition Reduction

      AUWCL will offer a 50% discounted tuition for 2015 JD graduates who wish to pursue an LLM degree at AUWCL in the Fall 2015 or Spring 2016. Graduates who elect to pursue the 50% LLM tuition discount are not eligible for the JDDF Program or for the Graduate Legal Fellowship.

    3. No Tuition Reduction

      This option is available for graduates who have been selected for the JDDF Program and intend to concurrently pursue an LLM degree.

  • Who are the Members of the JDDF Program Selection Committee?

    The JDDF Program Selection Committee (“Selection Committee”) is comprised of members of the Faculty and Senior Administration of AUWCL. In order to ensure that no applicants receive unfair advantage, the names of the Selection Committee members are not disclosed and all Fellowship applications are considered anonymously by the Selection Committee.

  • What are the Factors that the JDDF Program Selection Committee Will Consider in Choosing Fellows?

    As outlined in the JDDF Program Overview and Application materials, the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program Selection Committee will consider the following in rendering its decisions:

    • the applicant's demonstrated interest in the fellowship placement and the substantive legal or law-related work expected to be performed;
    • how the experience will further the applicant's career development and make the applicant a more competitive candidate in the legal marketplace;
    • whether the applicant has taken advantage of resources at AUWCL and in the greater legal community to prepare him/her to perform well as a Fellow;
    • the applicant's prior work experience such as externships and summer positions; and
    • the applicant's academic achievement in law school.
  • When will I Know Whether I Have Received a Fellowship?

    Decisions should be announced by the end of May 2015.

  • What Are My Odds of Getting a Fellowship?

    In 2014, approximately 90 students applied for 55 fellowships.

  • If I am chosen as a JD Distinguished Fellow, will my work qualify me for the AUWCL Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program (PILRAP)?

    As a JD Distinguished Fellow, you will be eligible to participate in the PILRAP program if your Fellowship Sponsor is a an organization qualifying for tax exemption under IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), or 501(c)(5), or is a local, state or federal government agency or office. However, you should determine what your annual loan obligation will be before you apply for PILRAP. In early August, you should research loan repayment plans and determine which one is right for you, before you go into repayment. You will most likely choose the Income-Based Repayment Plan or the Pay As You Earn Plan. You should work with your lender/servicer to enroll in the correct plan in advance of the October deadline for submitting your PILRAP application. It is possible that you will not need to apply for PILRAP because your monthly obligation may be zero; however, in order to be eligible for PILRAP, you must apply to enter the program within three years of the January following your graduation. Keep in mind that many servicers/lenders only require that you report changes in your income to them but once a year (on your anniversary date). Therefore, if your loan repayment obligation is set at zero, then it will be zero for a full year. Visit the PILRAP website to learn more.

  • If I am chosen as a JD Distinguished Fellow, will my work qualify me for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?

    As a JD Distinguished Fellow, your employment will qualify you for participation in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Be sure to speak with your servicer/lender to confirm that your loans are under the right type of repayment plan in order to participate in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Learn more about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

    At the end of your fellowship, you will want to turn in an Employment Certification Form to the Department of Education in order to log the months that you worked toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You should turn in this form at the end of your fellowship, rather than before that time, because you can only get credit for the time already worked. The employer (Public Service Organization) is American University. Please contact Mr. Tino Flecther in the Finance Office at AUWCL so that he can connect you with the appropriate person on main campus to fill out the form for you.

  • I graduated from AUWCL in the spring of 2014 and then completed the MA portion of my JD/MA at the School of International Service in the fall, graduating in December of 2014. Am I eligible to apply for a JD Distinguished Fellowship with others from the class of 2015?

    No, you are not eligible. You would have been eligible to apply for a JD Distinguished Fellowship in the spring of 2014 when you finished your Juris Doctor degree. Joint degree students may work as fellows while completing their MA degrees.

  • I am a recent graduate of the AUWCL dual degree program with Nanterre University in Paris. Although for the purposes of taking the bar exam, I graduated from AUWCL in May 2014, due to differences in the academic calendars between the two schools, I didn't finish my Master II at Nanterre until November, 2014. Am I eligible to apply for a JD Distinguished Fellowship with others from the class of 2015?

    Yes, you are eligible. In order to complete the final portion of your degree, you had to continue studying in France past your AUWCL graduation date, working on your final thesis and taking oral exams. The AUWCL-Nanterre dual degree program obligates students to continue their studies through the fall after graduation from AUWCL in order to finish their degree. This is the normal course of study for students who complete the program and there is no alternative.

  • Will I Receive Health Care Benefits as a Fellow?

    Fellows will not receive health care benefits from AUWCL. Health care costs should be considered when determining whether to apply for this program. UnitedHealthcare may offer students who have been on the plan with the school the opportunity to purchase a continuation plan for an additional 6 months of coverage. For additional information, check with Edythe Cook, AU Student Health Center, edythe@american.edu

  • Can I split my time in the JDDF Program and apply with more than one Fellowship Sponsor?  That is, I want to pursue my current interests by working with Fellowship Sponsor A, but I think that the narrative of my resume and my prior experience point to my working with Fellowship Sponsor B. Can I submit two applications and see which one gets funded?

    An applicant can submit two applications. However, because the selection process is anonymous, there must be a way for the JDDF Program Selection Committee to avoid awarding two fellowships to the same person. Therefore, an applicant submitting two applications should submit the two applications all scanned together into one PDF. It would also be advisable to submit a short addendum explaining why you are submitting two applications. In addition, you need only submit one copy of pages 1-3 of the application. Obviously, you will have to submit two Fellowship Sponsor Certification Forms.

    Alternatively, you could choose to work at both organizations by splitting your time between them. An applicant may propose spending four months with one Fellowship Sponsor and then moving to a second Fellowship Sponsor for the last eight months of the fellowship. However, in order to ensure that Fellows have a meaningful experience at each Fellowship Sponsor, an applicant may not propose spending less than four months at a particular Fellowship Sponsor. Other combinations are acceptable (for instance, five months and seven months, or six months and six months). This may not be a wise option for applicants whose two placements are at cross-purposes to each other, with regard to career development.

    If you are splitting your time, you must submit two Fellowship Sponsor Certification Forms. You must also provide in your application, either in your personal statement or in a short addendum, a compelling reason for splitting your time.

  • Can I Start my JD Distinguished Fellowship Later in the Year?

    The JDDF Program is structured to accommodate a September 2015 - September 2016 employment and pay period.  If a Fellow starts early, the Fellow will be volunteering for the Fellowship Sponsor outside of the JDDF Program, and the Fellow must still have a commitment from the Fellowship Sponsor for the full term of the fellowship. If a Fellow works past the end of the fellowship term, the Fellow will be volunteering for the Fellowship Sponsor and will not be able to receive payment through the JDDF Program.

  • I am a 2015 graduate and I have been hired for a full time, permanent position that starts several months after the September JDDF Program start date.  Can I apply for a shorter term JDDF if I already have a job lined up?

    Applicants who have accepted employment offers for jobs that will begin several months after the September JDDF Program start date may apply for a JD Distinguished Fellowship. However, priority is given to those applicants who do not have any confirmed future employment. Applicants must disclose on their JDDF applications any offers or confirmed plans for future employment. In the past, the number of qualified applicants without any confirmed future employment has outnumbered the fellowships available.

    Besides the JDDF Program, such prospective applicants may wish to consider contract or temporary work as a way to fill the gap between graduation and accepted future employment. Make an appointment with an OCPD counselor to discuss additional options.

  • How Should I Go About Finding a Fellowship Sponsor?

    Many employers are familiar with law school programs such as the JDDF Program. Indeed, many employers will have hosted fellows in the past. If there is an organization that is doing work that interests you, approach the organization to inquire as to whether the organization would be interested in hosting a fellow. You can direct the organization to the JDDF Program website and the Fellowship Sponsor Certification Form for more information. You may want to consider approaching organizations for which you have worked in the past as an intern or extern.

    Also, the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) has created a list of employers who have hosted JD Distinguished Fellows in the past or have expressed interest in hosting a JDDF in the future. To locate the list of past and potential Fellowship Sponsors for the JDDF Program, please click here.  Since employers (and JDDF Sponsors) are free to independently post opportunities on CareerLink, you would also benefit from selecting “Fellowship” in the “Job Type” section of CareerLink for possible additional entries.

    In addition, you should conduct an advanced search on PSJD for job postings, limiting the search by choosing "FELLOWSHIP - Sponsor" as the job type. If you are signed onto the website, you can save your search by making it an alert, thereby receiving emails from PSJD whenever new postings fit your criteria. As an AUWCL student, you may register with PSJD for free by visiting this link.

    Finally, many AUWCL professors have connections to practitioners. If you are interested in a particular field of practice, you should consider having an informational interview with an AUWCL professor who specializes in that field. To learn more, visit the website of faculty by areas of specialization.

  • My prospective supervisor has completed the Sponsor Certification Form and is wondering about the best way to submit it. Should they fax it separately to OCPD, or send it to me so I can include it with the rest of my application?

    As indicated in the application instructions, the completed and signed Fellowship Sponsor Certification Form must be included in the original application attachment submitted to OCPD upon initial application to the JDDF Program. Late or separately submitted materials will not be accepted.  

  • The Application Form asks me to certify that I have completed the ABA Graduation Survey, located on CareerLink. How do I do that?

    Please navigate to this link within the CareerLink system: https://law-american-csm.symplicity.com/students/index.php?ss=grad_survey&=&s=profile  

    OR

    • Login to your CareerLink account
    • Select the "Profile" tab
    • Select "Switch to Tab View”
    • Select "ABA Survey”
    1. Fill out the survey in its entirety. Be sure to indicate what your post-AUWCL status will be (Employed; Seeking Work; Not Seeking Work, Enrolled in a Full-Time Degree Program) and to provide any and all associated details. Because JD Distinguished Fellowships have not yet been awarded, please indicate your current status on the graduation survey. If you have already secured part-time work or outside funding in addition to a JDD Fellowship, please contact Carey Yuill in the Office of Career and Professional Development for assistance with your survey.
    2. After completing the entire survey, submit it by clicking "Finalize."
    3. Also, please update your email address, phone number and permanent address.

    **All information will be treated as confidential and reported anonymously in the aggregate. In many cases, it will be necessary for OCPD to confirm your status for reporting deadlines up to ten months post-graduation.

  • I Still Have Questions About the Application. Who Should I Contact?

    Applicants are welcome and encouraged to contact OCPD with any questions. Please email careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu with detailed questions. Your message will be directed to the appropriate administrator for a response.

    In addition, you may meet with an OCPD JD career counselor to review your application. Please access your CareerLink account and click on “Request an Appointment” on the right side of the page. This will show you the names of counselors available to help you with your JDDF Program application.

For Participants

  • How will I get paid?

    You will receive specific instructions regarding the system for payment during the month before your fellowship begins. At that time, you will be asked to fill out paperwork that must be returned in a timely fashion. While you are a fellow, you can direct any questions regarding payment to the Finance Office by writing to Mr. Tino Fletcher.

  • What happens if I must take a sick day?

    You should speak to your Fellowship Sponsor regarding their sick leave policy for unpaid interns and volunteer attorneys. With regard to the rules of the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program, you may take as many sick days during the course of the year as would be awarded to a new attorney at your Fellowship Sponsor during that attorney's first year. You must contact OCPD at careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu if you have been on sick leave without working for more than five consecutive business days.

  • What happens if I want to take vacation leave?

    You should speak to your Fellowship Sponsor regarding their vacation leave policy for unpaid interns and volunteer attorneys. With regard to the rules of the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program, you may take as many vacation days during the course of the year as would be awarded to a new attorney at your Fellowship Sponsor during that attorney's first year. You must contact OCPD at careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu if you plan to take a vacation that will result in your missing work for more than five consecutive business days.

  • What happens if my Fellowship Sponsor is closed due to a holiday or inclement weather?

    You are not expected to work the days on which your Fellowship Sponsor is closed, whether because of a holiday or because of inclement weather.

  • What should I do if I am facing challenges in my fellowship?

    If you are facing challenges in your JDD Fellowship, you should contact OCPD at careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu. Program administrators from the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program can advise you on ways to try to improve your placement. When appropriate, program administrators from the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program can work with your Fellowship Sponsor to try to address any problems that exist. Although you are expected to stay with the same Fellowship Sponsor throughout the full term of the fellowship, there are instances in which you will be permitted to change sponsors while continuing your fellowship. However, such a change may only occur after working with the program administrators from the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program to try to salvage your placement and after having received permission from the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program Selection Committee to move your fellowship to a new sponsor.

  • My fellowship is coming to an end. What can I do to get an extension of my fellowship term?

    Unfortunately, the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program does not have additional funding for extending the term of any fellowships. For guidance on other sources of funding, visit the webpage of the Office of Public Interest at the following URL: https://www.wcl.american.edu/publicinterest/postgradfunding.cfm

    That page will direct you to some of the tools that are available through the Office of Sponsored Programs. The Office of Grants and Programs also sometimes holds trainings on how to use these resources.

    Some of the funding sources will be for organizations, not individuals. However, you might consider writing a grant proposal for your Fellowship Sponsor. The development department at your sponsor can advise you as to whether there are any grants of interest to your sponsor or whether your sponsor is an appropriate applicant for specific grants.

    Finally, the Pence Law Library also has a page related to grants and funding. It can be found at the following URL: http://wcl.american.libguides.com/grants

  • I have secured permanent, full-time employment. What do I need to do in order to end my fellowship?

    First, be sure to give your Fellowship Sponsor as much notice as possible (at least two weeks) of the fact that you are leaving. Work with your Fellowship Sponsor to ensure that you have completed all assignments or that you have identified someone to whom you can transfer an unfinished assignment (when appropriate, make sure to create a transfer memo when transferring an assignment). Contact OCPD at careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu to inform the program administrators from the JDDF Program that you have found permanent, full-time employment. Then, a representative from OCPD will contact you to get more information about your employment. Fellows who secure permanent, full-time employment before their term expires will forego any future JDDF payments but will not be required to return any of the funding already received. Once you have responded to OCPD's request for information and worked your last day, you need to ensure you have complied with all remaining reporting requirements.

  • Are There Any Reporting Requirements of the JD Distinguished Fellowship Program?

    Yes. Fellows agree that they will respond in a timely manner to all requests from the Finance Office, OCPD, and any other AUWCL office regarding their fellowships and careers, including but not limited to surveys about the fellowship experience, updates on the progress of their job search, ABA and other such surveys about post-graduate employment outcomes, and participation in quarterly conference calls.

  • Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

    JDD Fellows are welcome and encouraged to contact the Office of Career and Professional Development at careerdevelopment@wcl.american.edu.