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Post-Graduate Fellowships

Find information on this webpage about post-graduate fellowship opportunities in public service.

Iowa State Public Defender Gideon Fellowship Program 

The Gideon Fellowship Program is the the Office of the State Public Defender's primary means of hiring entry-level attorneys. Each year, two Gideon Fellows are selected to serve a two-year term appointment in one of the public defender offices. The fellowship begins in September after the fellows receives notification they passed the Iowa bar exam.

Fellows serve alongside career public defenders representing clients, trying cases, and participating in training and mentoring through the State Public Defender's New Attorney Development Program. Fellows are eligible to apply for permanent public defender positions during the term of their fellowship, and successful fellows may continue their careers long-term in the Office of the State Public Defender.

Eligibility and Qualifications:
Third-year law students and current state or federal judicial law clerks are eligible to apply to the Gideon Fellowship Program. The Office of the State Public Defender seeks candidates who are passionate about providing competent and zealous representation for their clients in criminal and juvenile proceedings.

While many cases resolve through plea negotiations or other noncontested proceedings, public defenders are expected to be trial attorneys, capable and eager to try a case to the court or a jury. Prior criminal courtroom experience through law school clinics, public defender or prosecution internships, or mock trial are preferred.

A Gideon Fellow must be licensed to practice law in Iowa prior to beginning employment with the Office of the State Public Defender. Any offer of employment to someone not yet admitted to practice in Iowa will be subject to the person being admitted to practice prior to the commencement of the fellowship.

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Equal Justice Works Fellowship

Equal Justice Works provides a blueprint for new lawyers to turn their passions into public interest careers that are truly their own. With the support of their host organizations, sponsors, and Equal Justice Works, the Fellows pursue projects of their own design and create lasting change for their communities over the two-year fellowship.

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Soros Justice Fellowships

The Soros Justice Fellowships fund outstanding individuals to undertake projects that advance reform, spur debate, and catalyze change on a range of issues facing the U.S. criminal justice system.

The fellowships are part of a larger effort within the Open Society Foundations to reduce the destructive impact of current criminal justice policies on the lives of individuals, families, and communities in the U.S. The Open Society Foundations seek to challenge the overreliance on incarceration and extreme punishment and ensure a fair and accountable system of justice.

Advocacy Fellowships:
The Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowships fund lawyers, advocates, grassroots organizers, researchers, and others with unique perspectives to undertake full-time criminal justice reform projects at the local, state, and national levels. Projects may range from litigation to public education to coalition building to grassroots mobilization to policy-driven research.

Advocacy Fellowships are 18 months in duration, may be undertaken with the support of a host organization, and can begin anytime between July and November 2018. Advocacy Fellowships come with an award of either $87,000 or $120,000 (depending on the level of experience), plus project-related expenses, for the 18 months.

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Skadden Fellowships

Launched in 1988, the Skadden Fellowship Foundation has become the largest public interest law firm in the U.S. The program provides two-year fellowships to talented young lawyers to pursue the practice of public interest law on a full-time basis.

The foundation's guiding principle is to improve legal services for the poor and encourage economic independence. To date, the foundation has funded more than 800 fellowships. Ninety percent of former Fellows remain in public service, and almost all of them continue working on the same issues they addressed in their original fellowship projects.

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For more information, contact Drake Law School's Career Development Office at 515-271-2988 or

Law School News
February 20, 2020
John Gilbertson, a third-year student at Drake University Law School, was recognized onstage during GRAMMY Week 2020 at the 22nd Annual Entertainment Law Initiative Event and Scholarship Presentation, hosted by the Recording Academy. His paper, titled Play It Again Sam: The Free-Market Case for Government Intervention in the Music Streaming Sector, received runner-up in the Entertainment Law Initiative Writing Competition, winning him a trip to Los Angeles and a $2,500 scholarship.