Abrams Clinical Fellowship Opening

Abrams Clinical Fellowship Opening

The Yale Information Society Project is now accepting applications for an Abrams Clinical Fellowship beginning in July 2016. The Abrams Clinical Fellow will help run the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic (MFIA). Experience in the fields of media law, First Amendment, FOIA, Internet law, or intellectual property law is preferred.

The MFIA Clinic is a program of the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression. Made possible by a gift from Floyd Abrams, one of the country’s leading First Amendment experts, the mission of the Institute is to bring free expression theory into practice. The Abrams Institute is administered by the Yale Information Society Project (ISP). Both the ISP and the Abrams Institute are directed by Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment Jack Balkin.

About the Abrams Clinical Fellowship

The Abrams Institute seeks lawyers who have at least two years of practice (or equivalent experience) and want to pursue a career working on digital-age free expression and transparency issues in private practice, in the public sector, or in the legal academy. The fellowship allows young lawyers to gain hands-on experience litigating cutting edge issues, to work on legal scholarship and policy advocacy, and to participate in the intellectual life of the Yale ISP. The Fellow’s functions include:

  • Assuming overall responsibility for selected cases on the MFIA Clinic docket and supervising Yale law students in the Clinic;
  • Teaching a number of substantive and skill-based sessions each semester;
  • Assisting the Clinic’s intake process and shaping its docket;
  • Supervising summer law student interns at the Clinic and covering Clinic cases during semester breaks;
  • Coordinating the Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference hosted each Spring by the Abrams Institute; and
  • Participating actively in the scholarly activities of the ISP, which includes regular academic lunches, workshops, conferences, and talks. Fellows typically produce at least one piece of publishable academic scholarship during the year.

Fellows must live in the New Haven area during their fellowship. The fellowship starts on July 1st and lasts for one year, renewable for a second year, with a salary of $60,000. Fellows also receive health benefits and access to university facilities, as well as a travel budget.

About the MFIA Clinic

The Clinic’s mission is to promote democracy by increasing government transparency, defending the essential work of news gatherers, and protecting freedom of expression. The Clinic provides pro bono legal services to journalists, pursues impact litigation, and engages in policy analysis on issues of freedom of speech and effective government oversight. 

Yale students are involved in all aspects of Clinic work; they interact with clients, conduct research, draft pleadings, and appear in court. The Clinic is co-directed by David Schulz, Yale Clinical Lecturer and media attorney and by Professor Jack Balkin.

Since its founding in 2009, the MFIA Clinic has achieved successes for a wide range of clients: from individual journalists at start up websites, to major news organizations such as The New York Times, The Guardian and Pro Publica, as well as from individual civil rights activists to international rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch. The Clinic’s diverse docket is currently organized into four broad areas: 

  1. Government Transparency: Lawsuits seeking to compel disclosure of information vital to government oversight, such as asserting the public’s right to information about the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the regulation of Internet infrastructure in New York City, and the use of dangerous x-ray technology by the NYPD
  2. Constitutional Access: Lawsuits seeking to enforce and expand the First Amendment access right, including litigation in Arizona and Missouri asserting a constitutional right of access to information about drugs used in lethal injection executions.
  3. National Security: Lawsuits asserting rights to information critical to oversight of our nation’s security policies, such as moving to compel the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to make its substantive opinions public, and fighting for limits on the extent to which those who receive national security investigative demands may be gagged from discussing the government’s actions.
  4. Twenty-First Century Newsgathering: Lawsuits addressing issues that will shape the ability of journalists to gather news in the digital age, dealing with issues such as privacy, use of new technologies to promote transparency, government regulation of Internet infrastructure, and related concerns.

The MFIA website provides more detail about the Clinic’s current caseload.


Applications should be submitted by January 31, 2016 (note updated deadline). Application materials should include:

  • A one to five page statement describing the applicant’s interest in the fellowship, relevant practice experience, and proposed agenda for scholarship;
  • A copy of the applicant’s resume;
  • A law school (and any graduate school) transcript;
  • The name and contact information of at least three references; and
  • At least one sample of recent legal writing, preferably a brief or memorandum.

**Please indicate clearly in the application materials that you are applying for the Abrams Clinical Fellowship**

For further information, please feel free to contact MFIA Clinic Co-Director David Schulz at david.schulz@yale.edu.

Application materials should be sent (in electronic form) to Heather Branch at heather.branch@yale.edu.