Bridge to Practice Fellowships

What is Bridge to Practice?

The Bridge to Practice Fellowship program offers paid, post-graduate fellowships with public interest, government and other legal employers for graduating Duke Law students. Created in Spring 2008, the program was designed to assist graduates seeking employment in sectors that do not typically hire until after bar passage. The program also is open to graduating students who have not secured long-term employment by graduation. The goal of the program is to provide graduating students with meaningful, full-time work experiences that will serve as a springboard to long-term positions in the graduate’s desired sector and location.

Bridge to Practice fellowships benefit both employers and graduates: Graduates provide highly skilled support to the employing organization while gaining valuable professional experience and building a professional network. The program draws upon the support and loyalty of the Duke Law Alumni network; fellowships are funded by alumni and other donors, and in many cases alumni serve as mentors or even employers to Bridge Fellows.

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Work start dates should be arranged between the fellow and host employer and typically will be between August and October. A fellowship should be eight weeks of full-time work, with the expectation of one four-week extension upon satisfaction of extension requirements. The duration and hours per week may be modified to best fit the needs of the host and fellow and additional extensions are available under certain circumstances.

What we ask of host employers

• We ask that you commit to providing a meaningful work experience for your fellow.

• We ask that you support and facilitate the fellow’s pursuit of long-term employment through professional feedback and networking support. During the fellowship, graduates will be in regular communication with a Duke Law School career counselor about the graduate’s current work and ongoing plans to secure sub¬sequent long-term employment. Fellowship supervisors and career counselors may also communicate during the fellowship, and your support of these efforts is encouraged.

• You are not expected to pay your fellow’s stipend; fellowships are funded by Duke Law alumni, donors and other resources.

• You are not expected to permanently hire your fellow or to invite the fellow to remain at your organization beyond the fellowship period. A number of past hosts and fellows have decided to extend their relationship, and many fellowships have transitioned into long-term employment. Any work arrangements that extend beyond the fellowship term are to be determined by the host and fellow.

• Your fellow may secure a long-term position prior to or during the fellowship. We ask for your understanding in the event that your fellow cannot complete the fellowship. If this happens, the Duke Law Career Center will work closely with you to ensure that your organization’s needs are met.

Recent host employers

ACLU of Washington State SEATTLE, WA
Americans for Immigrant Justice MIAMI, FL
Bet Tzedak Legal Services LOS ANGELES, CA
Center for Creative Land Recycling SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Office of the District Attorney DURHAM, NC; NEW CITY, NY; SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
Environmental Defense Fund BOULDER, CO
Florida Attorney General’s Office TALLAHASSEE, FL
Hon. J. Moody, Jr., Middle District of Florida TAMPA, FL
Hon. Mary Ellen Coster Williams, Court of Federal Claims WASHINGTON, DC
NC Department of Justice, Attorney General’s Office RALEIGH, NC
Selman Breitman SAN FRANCISCO, CA
The Legal Aid Society NEW YORK, NY
Southwest Airlines DALLAS, TX
United States Department of Veteran Affairs WINSTON-SALEM, NC
Whatley, Kallas LLC NEW YORK, NY


Return to Bridge to Practice homepage.


Employers and students should contact the Career Center at or (919) 613-7031 for more information, or contact Stella Boswell ( or Emily Sharples (

To donate to the program or fund a fellowship, please contact the Alumni and Development Office at or Associate Dean Jeff Coates at or (919) 613-7175.

What Host Organizations are saying:

“We hired a Duke Law graduate last year. We had a large number of highly qualified and experienced applicants, but he was great, and all the references ⎯ particularly those about his ‘practice abilities’ from his Bridge to Practice Fellowship host employer ⎯ made me confident that he is the right choice for us.”

Kendra Montgomery Blinn
N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission

“The two Bridge Fellows working with us were responsible and eager to learn about the many facets of our work. They quickly became part of the team, contributing important work to a wide variety of projects while honing their research, writing, and reviewing skills. We look forward to hosting future Fellows and recommend the program to other organizations. Duke Law School’s support for their students and the profession through Bridge to Practice is clear, and we appreciate being involved.”

Leslie Chambers Strohm
Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill