The Harvey L. and Lillian Silbert Foundation established the Harvey L. and Lillian Silbert Public Interest Fellowship Program at Southwestern to provide grants for selected students to work and gain legal experience at specified non-for-profit public interest organizations. The grants received by Silbert Fellows are utilized to meet the required matching amount for federal work-study funds applied to positions off campus, thereby offering community organizations valuable legal assistance while providing students with meaningful public service exposure.
The Fellowship Program consists of off-campus employment at selected public interest organizations during the spring semester or the summer. As most non-profit, public service organizations are unable to pay student workers, payment is usually made through Federal Work Study funds. Use of these federal funds requires a matching contribution to come from the employer, and the grants students receive as Silbert Fellows will be used to meet that matching fund requirement.
The amount of each grant depends upon the rate of pay at the public interest organization, which can range from $10 to $20 per hour. Assuming that a student will work 20 hours per week for 15 weeks during the spring semester, or 40 hours per week for 8 weeks during the summer, the grant will generate approximately $3,000 to $6,400 in Federal Work Study wages per student. Three to six Fellowships will be awarded annually.
The recipient of the Silbert Fellowship must have a strong interest in public interest law and be committed to serving clients unable to afford legal representation. The Fellowship Program is open to all Southwestern students in good standing who are eligible for Federal Work Study Funds. First-year students are eligible to apply but will be considered only for grants during the summer following their first year.
Students should apply by submitting a current resume and a letter of application to the Fellowship Program. The application letter should: 1) explain the student's interest in the Fellowship Program; 2) describe any relevant work and/or volunteer experience; 3) list, in order of preference, at least three public interest organizations where the student would be interested in working as well as any reason for selecting that organization; and 4) indicate whether the student wishes to be considered for Spring, Summer, or both. Students should not contact any of the organizations directly.
Materials should be directed to the Director of Financial Aid. After Southwestern's Financial Aid Office reviews these materials, they will be forwarded to the Silbert Fellowship Selection Committee and to the public interest organizations selected by the students. Students will be notified if they are selected as Silbert Fellows by mid-December if they have applied for a Spring grant, and by mid-March 15 if they have applied for a Summer grant.
Materials must be submitted no later than November 15 for a Spring grant, February 28 for a Summer grant.
Click on the names below to read personal accounts of past Silbert Fellows:
Selected Public Interest Organizations
- The Alliance for Children's Rights
- American Jewish Congress
- Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith
- Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center
- Asian Pacific American Legal Center
- Bet Tzedek Legal Services
- California Indian Legal Services
- California Lawyers for the Arts
- Center for Health Care Rights
- Central American Resource Center
- City Project (formally known as Center for Law in the Public Interest)
- Communities for a Better Environment
- Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Los Angeles
- El Rescate Legal Services
- Fair Housing Congress of Southern California
- Fair Housing Foundation of San Fernando Valley
- Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness
- Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law
- HIV & AIDS Legal Services Alliance, Inc.
- International Rescue Committee, Inc.
- Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates
- Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc.
- Legal Aid Foundation of Long Beach
- Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
- Legal Aid Society of Orange County and Community Legal Services
- Los Angeles County Bar Association, Immigration Legal Assistance Project and Lawyer Referral Service
- Los Angeles County Veteran Services
- Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center Legal Services Department
- Los Angeles Free Clinic
- Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.
- National Health Law Program
- National Immigration Law Center
- National Senior Citizens Law Center
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Neighborhood Legal Center
- Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles
- Public Counsel
- San Fernando Valley Fair Housing Council
- San Fernando Valley Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc.
- San Gabriel Valley Fair Housing Council
- Western Law Center for Disability Rights