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Movement Law Lab and Law For Black Lives are partnering to offer a eight-month fellowship for legal innovators seeking to accelerate the impact, scale, reach, and depth of movement lawyering in Black communities. Innovators may apply to develop an early-stage idea or to accelerate the scale/impact of an existing project with a proven track-record. Legal advocates at any stage of their careers are encouraged to apply.

The fellowship will provide 5-7 visionary legal innovators with financial support, training, mentorship, and other resources to turn their ideas into reality. In addition, Fellows will have the opportunity to advance their projects while being in a learning community with other legal innovators from the Law For Black Lives network.

We are no longer accepting applications. Please stay tuned for more information about our 2018 Cohort. 


The Need

We are in a challenging moment in history. The potential scale of legal needs in Black communities is staggering: 800,000 young people’s DACA status in jeopardy, continued attempts to institute a Muslim ban, and millions impacted by climate change and disasters. These emergent issues play out on the backdrop of continued and escalating anti-Black racism manifested in impunity for police killings of black men and women, vigilante violence, threats to reproductive justice, and insufficient housing, jobs, shelter, food, and healthcare in Black and Brown communities. Now more than ever, we need legal innovators, working closely with their communities, to develop projects that maximize the capacity of Black communities to protect themselves, democratize law, and build alternatives.

What We Are looking for

We're looking to support innovative proposals, ideas, and projects that:

  • Partner with directly-impacted individuals and/or community organizations in Black communities.

  • Creatively use law to the build power of Black communities and Black-led organizing.

  • Use an intersectional analysis to center marginalized populations including women, immigrants, LGBTQ, etc. within Black communities.

  • Respond to urgent challenges in ways that build long-term, systemic change.

  • Increase the scale, reach and depth of movement lawyering in geographic areas with limited existing capacity.

  • Replicable and scalable at a local, regional or national level.

  • Breakdown silos and foster collaboration within and outside the legal sector.

What Innovators Receive

This fellowship provides a wide range of support to help Innovators turn their ideas into reality. The fellowship is designed to address the unique challenges of being an innovator and a movement lawyer. Our goal is to invest in your ideas and in you.

Financial Support: Participants will receive up to $10,000 in financial support to advance their innovations in movement lawyering for Black communities.

Coaching: Participants will be paired with visionary mentors who can provide individualized coaching and support over the course of the fellowship.

Learning Labs: Innovators will participate in monthly learning labs designed to create dedicated time for Fellows to make progress on their projects. Lab topics will include: deepening vision/purpose; prototyping/design sessions; skills-building workshops (i.e. leading with creativity, strategic communications for movement lawyers, pitch practice); and strategy discussions on using law to build a world where Black lives matter.

Brain Trusts: Each project will go through a “Brain Trust” or a collective problem-solving space where Fellows will help each other brainstorm solutions in real-time to sticky challenges in their respective projects.

Innovation Showcase: At the culmination of the Fellowship, innovators will have the opportunity to present their project to the Law For Black Lives network and movement partners.

Law For Black Lives Network: Access to the more than 3,400 person Law for Black Lives Network and use our online platform to elevate ongoing work and recruit volunteers. Fellows will also receive free access to Law for Black lives convenings, trainings, ongoing policy support and legal resources.

What Innovators Commit to

Time: Innovators must attend an opening and closing retreat (February 9-11 and September 14-17, respectively) and must participate in 10 hours a month of fellowship related activities such as workshops, brain trusts, mentoring sessions and skillshares.

Skillshare: Fellows are required to share their skills, expertise and insights with their innovators cohort and the larger Law for Black Lives Network by producing at least one written resource or hosting at least one training during the course of their Fellowship.

Selection Criteria

  • Priority given to engaged members of Law For Black Lives. Engagement will be evaluated through participation in Law For Black Lives activities such as volunteering for rapid-response work, attendance at the 2015 conference, participation in Law for Black Lives clinical cohort, and/or participation in webinars/trainings, etc.

  • Priority given to those from marginalized communities, such as black folks, LGB, Trans, Genderqueer, undocumented, etc.

  • Must be a lawyer, paralegal, law student, jailhouse lawyer, and/or community organizer primarily working on legal advocacy strategies.

  • Must have existing relationships with Black-led or Black-centered community organizations.

Application Process & Timeline

  • Application Open: October 10, 2017

  • Applications Due: November 1, 2017

  • Interviews: November 13-21, 2017

  • Decisions: December 1, 2017

Our application period is now closed. 

Movement Law Lab

Movement Law Lab is an innovation hub for movement lawyers that surfaces and accelerates legal experiments and innovations that democratize law and build the power of marginalized communities.

Law For Black Lives 

Law For Black Lives is a national network of over 3,500 radical lawyers committed to building a responsive local legal infrastructure and cultivating a community of movement lawyers.