Resources & Training

Pro Bono Program: Associates Fellowship Program

“It was a wonderful experience, great timing, and I learned an incredible amount in 2 months.” –Kathleen Hartnett, 2002 Fellow

“The folks were quite welcoming and plugged me in to projects right away. I have been able to stay busy and get wide exposure to their different practice areas.” –Jason Oraker, 2004 Fellow

What a great way to start a career! More and more D.C. law firms are offering their incoming associates the same opportunity presented to Kathleen and Jason—the chance to participate in the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program’s Associates Fellowship Program.

What Is an Associates Fellowship?

Under the Associates Fellowship Program, law firms offer incoming and deferred associates the opportunity to volunteer at one of the more than 40 affiliated public interest agencies—all of which have exciting and diverse practices. These agencies engage in direct representation, legislative advocacy, policy development, impact litigation, and/or transactional work.

The actual timeframes vary. Incoming associates may work part–time for five weeks while studying for the bar exam, and then full–time for five weeks beginning in mid/late–August, or full–time for 10 or more weeks sometime after mid/late–August. Deferred associates may work part or full time for as long as their deferral permits. The participating law firms determine whether and how to compensate incoming and deferred associates during their Fellowships.  

Why Participate in the Fellowship Program?

Associate Fellowships provide much needed assistance to the affiliated public interest agencies. At the same time, they offer incoming and deferred associates valuable professional development opportunities under the supervision of highly qualified attorneys.

“The highlights of the [Associates] Fellowship Program include the extremely high quality of the work performed by the Fellows, the seriousness with which they approach the work and our clients, and their overall enthusiasm for the Agency’s mission.” –Jennifer Thomas, Public Defender Service of D.C.

“On our Fellow’s first day he helped us negotiate with folks at Homeland Security, his second went to jail, and his third and fourth spoke in court. He has successfully won several bond motions, done an oral argument, filed a number of habeas petitions, helped reunite families, and been an integral part of our office.” –Debi Sanders, former executive director, CAIR Coalition

Who Is Eligible?

Only incoming and deferred associates are eligible to participate in this project. Others, including unemployed attorneys may search for pro bono opportunities by visiting our online directory of legal service providers or by contacting Shannon Redd, staff attorney and training manager at or 202–737–4700, ext. 3293.

How Are Fellowships Arranged?

Lise Adams, assistant director of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program, is available to consult with incoming and deferred associates about the various opportunities through the affiliated agencies. Lise may be reached at or 202–737–4700, ext. 3295.