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The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

New Law Center Fellowship Connects Hoyas to Capitol Hill

For many law school graduates, working on Capitol Hill is an out-of-reach dream because of low salaries and a high cost of living.

The Capitol Hill Fellowship Program, a new initiative from the Georgetown University Law Center, seeks to change that dynamic by offering a stipend of $20,000 to as many as five graduates who take volunteer positions on the Hill in fall 2023. The fellowship aims to build upon existing pathways between the Law Center campus and legislative offices by increasing the accessibility of volunteer work.

Legislative offices that are interested in hosting fellows can apply to do so — including at the request of a law student who wishes to work in a specific office, according to a Law Center press release.

Josh Chafetz, a professor of law at the Law Center, said the fellowship will help expand current opportunities that law school graduates have to work in the nation’s legislative branch.

“I think these fellowships are great,” Chafetz wrote to The Hoya. “They’ll allow the law school to deepen and broaden our already-impressive connections with the Hill, and they’ll ensure that more recent graduates who want to begin careers on the Hill will have the opportunity to do so.”

Noah Widmann (GRD ’23), who served as treasurer of the Georgetown Law chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said the new funding opportunity will assist those interested in working in public service.

“I think that the fellowship is actually a really great opportunity for people that come to Georgetown specifically to seek out public interest,” Widmann told The Hoya. “Whether that’s the Hill in the short term or the long term or whether it’s getting their foot in the public service world, I think that this is a great opportunity for that.”

The fellowship will help students reach their goals of working on Capitol Hill by circumventing obstacles like financial strain, according to Widmann.

Georgetown University | In an effort to bridge gaps in inclusion and financial equity, the Georgetown University Law Center will offer stipends to law grads who accept volunteer positions on Capitol Hill.

“When you’re in an environment where you’re at a top school like Georgetown, a lot of people tend to kind of think that there’s only one track to go down,” Widmann said. “I think this fellowship’s a really great opportunity for people to just be able to follow the path they intended.”

Widmann graduated from Columbia University as a transfer student from community college and said the fellowship will go a long way in terms of financial inclusion and accessibility.

“I’m the first to go to any kind of college from my family,” Widmann said. “I think that this represents such a seismic shift in the representation that, you know, the people we’re selling to the Hill are going to have, and I think that that’s a huge deal, right?”

Many young professionals after earning law degrees take unpaid or low-paying, but full-time, volunteer positions on Capitol Hill in which they gain valuable experience and do important work for less than a living wage. However, the high cost of living in Washington, D.C., means such jobs are not financially viable for many qualified law school graduates.

The Law Center’s Assistant Dean Morgan Lynn-Alesker (GRD ’07) said she acknowledges the financial barriers posed by such Hill positions.

“This fellowship will give our graduates a chance to apply their law school training as they gain experience, network, and open doors for employment opportunities,” Lynn-Alesker wrote to The Hoya.

Lynn-Alesker also said the fellowships will facilitate long-term jobs in Congress and the federal government for Law Center graduates.

“We are thrilled to pilot a fellowship program that will launch careers in public policy and civic engagement,” Lynn-Alesker wrote.

Widmann said increased pathways to Capitol Hill will bring more voices, including ones that are historically underrepresented, to discussions of public policy.

“I think that when you take away these financial burdens and barriers, you just simply are going to have a better representation of the country going to the place where decision making for the country’s policy happens,” Widmann said.

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About the Contributor
Jack Willis
Jack Willis, Executive Editor
Jack Willis is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service from St. Augustine, Fla., studying international politics. He won his middle school spelling bee. [email protected]

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