Legal Fellowships:

  • December update: Applications for our 2016-2017 fellowships are no longer being accepted.

The Reporters Committee offers legal fellowships each year. The work is challenging, but rewarding.

Fellows work in our Washington, D.C., office. They monitor significant developments in media law, assist staff attorneys responding to legal defense requests from reporters, assist staff attorneys in preparing legal memoranda and friend-of-the-court briefs, and handle other special projects. In addition, fellows write for the Committee's publications, the quarterly ePub The News Media & The Law, and daily news updates for our website.

Post-law school legal experience is preferred for The McCormick fellowship; the other two legal fellows must have graduated from law school and taken a bar exam before the fellowship begins, but need not have passed the exam by then. A background in news reporting is strongly preferred.

Fellowships start in September and end the next August, but all hiring is done the previous winter.

McCormick Foundation Legal Fellowship

This fellowship is funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The McCormick fellow will be expected to draft approximately six appellate amicus briefs in significant cases involving First Amendment/media law issues during the fellowship, primarily concerning access to court records and proceedings. Preferably, a McCormick candidate will have three years of post-graduate legal experience in a law firm, public interest group, government agency, or judicial clerkship, with substantial experience in appellate brief writing. Strong legal research and writing skills are required. As with all fellowship positions, experience in news reporting is strongly preferred. The fellowship stipend is $45,000, with fully-paid health benefits.

Jack NelsonDow Jones Foundation Legal Fellowship

The Jack Nelson–Dow Jones Foundation Legal Fellowship for a recent law school graduate honors Reporters Committee founder Jack Nelson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, who for many years was Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times; and the Dow Jones Foundation, which has been generously supporting the Reporters Committee since 1973. Nelson, who died in 2009, is a former chair of the Executive Committee of the Reporters Committee and served on its Steering Committee for 25 years. The Dow Jones Foundation, established in 1954, supports organizations involved with journalism and press freedom, literacy and education as well as arts and culture.  The Jack Nelson–Dow Jones Foundation Legal Fellow focuses on state and federal freedom of information law. The fellowship stipend is $43,000, with fully-paid health benefits.

Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Legal Fellowship

The Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Legal Fellowship is a one-year fellowship that focuses on First Amendment issues, primarily involving libel, invasion of privacy, and protection of confidential sources and materials. It is funded by the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The fellowship stipend is $43,000, with fully-paid health benefits.

Stanton Foundation Legal Fellowship

  • Please note: This fellowship will next be open for applicants in November 2016. The position is filled through August 2017.

The Stanton Foundation fellow will spearhead our work in free press, national security, and surveillance policy. With the Stanton fellowship, the Reporters Committee hopes to be able to play a larger role in helping the news media develop its own set of priorities and strategic initiatives in these ongoing debates. We anticipate that candidates for the position may be judicial clerks, associates at law firms, fellows or staff attorneys at public interest organizations, or other recent law school graduates. The fellowship will entail a combination of brief-writing, public advocacy, and freedom of information activity. The fellow will also respond to requests from reporters, work on special projects, and write for our website and quarterly magazine. Because it is a two-year program, the fellow is expected to complete a significant research project by the end of the fellowship term. A demonstrated interest or experience in journalism, First Amendment law, or national security issues is preferred. Post-law school work experience is also preferred, but we will accept applications from third year law students. The new Stanton fellow will be paid an annual salary of $68,000 in addition to receiving full health benefits.

Stanton Foundation Media Litigation Fellowship (2015-2017)

  • Please note: Because this is a two-year fellowship, we will not be accepting applicants this year, but will accept them again in November 2016.

The Reporters Committee is now accepting applications for a new fellowship. The Stanton Foundation Media Litigation Fellowship is a new opportunity for an early-career lawyer to play a hands-on role in the full scope of First Amendment and free press litigation matters handled by Reporters Committee staff attorneys.  The Stanton Foundation Fellow will report directly to our Litigation Director and work on small litigation teams with other legal fellows and Reporters Committee staff attorneys on a variety of First Amendment and media law cases, with a focus on assisting with access to courts and freedom of information litigation brought on behalf of the Reporters Committee, journalists, and news organizations.

The Stanton Foundation Fellow will participate in all aspects of state and federal litigation at both the trial and appellate level, including motion practice, discovery, brief writing, and hearing/oral argument preparation. 

Candidates for this challenging and rewarding two-year fellowship beginning in the fall of 2015 should have a demonstrated interest in the First Amendment and media law.  Post-law school judicial clerkship, fellowship, and/or litigation experience with a law firm or public interest organization is strongly preferred.  However, recent law school graduates with strong credentials will be considered.  Applicants should be admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction or awaiting bar exam results/admission in at least one jurisdiction at the start of the fellowship term.  Applicants who are not members of the D.C. Bar will be required to seek admission.  The Stanton Foundation Fellow will be paid an annual salary of $68,000 and will receive full health benefits. 

The Stanton Foundation was created by Frank Stanton, the president of CBS from 1946 to 1971.  Among his accomplishments at the network’s helm, Stanton initiated the first televised presidential debates — the famous Kennedy-Nixon “Great Debates,” developing a format that subsequently became a staple of electoral politics.  The foundation’s interests include classic and 21st-century First Amendment issues and the larger challenge of creating a better-informed citizenry.

How to apply:

One application letter can be sent for any or all fellowships. There is no application form. Candidates must submit the following:
  • cover letter
  • resume
  • names, addresses and phone numbers for three references
  • short legal writing sample, or sample appellate brief (for McCormick fellowship)
  • news clips or other short non-legal writing sample
Please send applications to:
or to:
Bruce D. Brown
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
1156 15th Street NW, Suite 1250
Washington, D.C. 20005-1779
(If sending by email, all documents must be in the form of Word documents or PDFs.)

See where some of the former fellows are now.