Attorney Pathways at IJ

Open the door to your future!

Do you want to use your law degree to litigate cutting-edge constitutional cases, stop government abuse of power, set long-range precedent, and champion the rights of all Americans? The Institute for Justice offers unique opportunities for law students and attorneys at every stage in their careers. Whether you’re still in law school or an experienced attorney, start your journey with IJ by exploring the possibilities below.

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Law Students

The Institute for Justice offers a variety of opportunities for law students to contribute to IJ’s cutting-edge constitutional litigation and advocacy work throughout the year.

Find out how you can contribute to IJ’s mission to expand individual liberty while gaining unparalleled strategic litigation experience.

Our opportunities include:

  • Law Student Conference: IJ’s signature summer event brings law students from across the country together for an immersive weekend experience. Students learn about IJ and public interest law. This annual tradition of nearly thirty years takes place in our Arlington, VA headquarters.
  • Legal Intensive: This new format is a one-day introduction to public interest law held virtually or in other cities around the country.
  • Dave Kennedy Fellowship: IJ’s summer program for talented rising 2L and 3L law students. Fellows work closely with IJ attorneys to develop litigation strategies and assist in the nuts and bolts of cutting-edge civil rights litigation, including propounding and responding to discovery requests, drafting motions and briefs, and preparing for hearings.
  • Semester Clerks: IJ offers fall and spring semester clerkships at all six of our offices around the country!
Law Student Conference 2019

2L, Harvard Law School Student

“The Dave Kennedy Fellowship was an amazing experience! From assignments that touch on almost every area of law to discussions with experienced lawyers to seminars on how the Institute for Justice has found success, this summer was as engaging as it was educational.”

3L, George Washington University Law School Student

“I hit the ground running in my fellowship with IJ. Within the first week I was doing supplemental research on a case that was argued before the Court of Appeals in The Eleventh Circuit. Not only was the work rich with novel constitutional issues, I was also given the freedom to collaborate with IJ attorneys across the U.S. to pursue my interest areas further. Lastly, the people were great, and Dave Kennedy Fellows were fortunate to get an inside look into how high-level litigation works on a day-to-day basis. I would recommend it to anyone interested in public interest or constitutional law.”

Building on IJ Clinic's Success

Recent Law School Graduates

The Institute for Justice is dedicated to training young lawyers from the moment they graduate law school. For attorneys with 0-2 years of experience, a commitment to IJ’s mission, and an interest in pursuing public interest law, IJ offers its Litigation Fellowship:

  • The Litigation Fellowship is a two-year program in which Fellows work alongside IJ attorneys to litigate cutting-edge constitutional cases and advance a rule of law under which individuals can control their own destinies. This Fellowship is now IJ’s preferred path for recent graduates or post-judicial clerkship candidates with less than two years of experience.
  • Upon completion, Fellows are considered for permanent employment.
  • Fellows are full members of case teams and participate in every stage of litigation, including working directly with clients. Fellows, like all new litigation recruits, benefit from professional development, mentorship opportunities, and expert media training.
  • Compensation is commensurate with experience and exceeds the government’s General Schedule (GS) pay scale.
  • Hiring for the Litigation Fellowship begins in December.
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Caroline Grace's Path to IJ

After working for IJ as a law student, I applied for the post-graduate fellowship because I was sold on IJ’s mission and, as a young attorney, I wanted to cut my teeth litigating interesting and challenging cases. The fellowship has delivered that in spades—from helping develop novel case theories to writing amicus briefs to co-authoring an in-depth research report. But while I knew the fellowship would be a learning experience, I was blown away by the time and work my talented colleagues put into encouraging and stretching me to become a more effective advocate for our clients."

Suranjan's Path to IJ

Practicing law wasn’t part of the plan—I studied music in college. That plan, however, changed forever when the government persecuted my parents for the crime of running a small business. Our freedoms are as vulnerable as they are precious, and I am thrilled and humbled that, through the Law and Liberty Fellowship, I may help IJ defend and advance them

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Judicial Clerks

  • At the Institute for Justice, we find that our top attorney recruits are those with clerkship experience. These attorneys have the intellectual firepower, best on-the-job training, and strong legal writing skills necessary to hit the ground running on our cutting-edge litigation. We have three opportunities for attorneys coming from clerkships. Read more below to see which position is best for you:
    • Litigation Fellowship: Our Litigation Fellowship is IJ’s preferred path for junior attorneys looking to start their career in public interest litigation. This is a two-year program for attorneys who have been practicing for 0-2 years. Fellows are full members of case teams, and they get to work directly with clients. They benefit from additional programming including mentorship opportunities and expert media training.
    • Bingham Fellowship (in-between clerkships): We recognize that judicial clerks often have gaps in between clerkships. We offer an opportunity to use that time to gain meaningful experience and training in public interest litigation. Bingham Fellows come to IJ for 1-2 years either before or in between clerkships. During this time, Bingham Fellows are immersed in IJ litigation. They are full members of case teams, work directly with clients and, like all new litigation recruits, benefit from expert media training and our mentorship program.
    • Lateral Hire: Attorneys with more than 3 years of litigation experience often join us as lateral attorneys.

Find out how you can contribute to IJ’s mission to expand individual liberty while gaining unparalleled strategic litigation experience.

Marie's Path to IJ

IJ’s legal work is on the cutting edge of constitutional law and grounded in the real-world ways in which laws affect many peoples’ lives. With its strategic litigation taking place in courts across the country—from state and federal trial courts to the Supreme Court of the United States—IJ’s work ripples throughout the nation, case by case. That kind of broad perspective, varied litigation experience, and down-to-earth representation makes my work as an attorney both challenging and gratifying. And it’s an absolute pleasure to work with such determined, skilled people who insist on top-notch efforts to advance liberty

Alexa's Path to IJ

After two years of clerking and watching litigators fight it out in briefs and at oral argument, I was ready to do the same. And I wanted to do it at the highest level possible and for issues that I care about. IJ throws its attorneys right into battle, and it gives them all of the tools they need to win. Unlike most law firms, where the class-year hierarchy controls assignments, IJ has given me every opportunity to own cases from the ground up and to pursue the issues that matter most to me

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Lateral Attorney Hires

IJ offers an unparalleled opportunity to use your law degree to make a difference while handling high-impact litigation. Each year we look to grow our attorney ranks with outstanding lateral attorneys committed to advancing liberty.

Tired of taking the backseat on cases? Attorneys develop their own cases, direct legal strategy, take depositions, and present oral arguments through each stage of litigation up to and including the Supreme Court. Often, attorneys gain deposition and oral argument experience within their first 18-24 months.

Looking to expand your skillset? IJ attorneys are also expected to be active outside the courtroom, with responsibilities including media writing and appearances, public speaking, grassroots activism, and direct advocacy to policymakers and legislators.

We accept applications throughout the year, with the bulk of our new hires joining each August/September

Patrick's Path to IJ

At a law firm, everything revolves around money. But at the Institute for Justice, everything revolves around principles. When you swap billable hours with important constitutional issues, you suddenly remember why you decided to be a lawyer in the first place.

Jaba's Path to IJ

Working at a corporate law firm, it’s easy to forget the aspirations that took you to law school. Litigating at IJ is a constant reminder.

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