Dear 2Ls: One Day’s Work

Dear Harvard Law School Community,

We are thrilled to launch the One Day’s Work campaign for the Class of 2015 Fellowship. For those of you who are unfamiliar with One Day’s Work, the concept is simple. Members of the class of 2015 entering the private sector after their second year of law school donate one day’s worth of their summer salary. The money collected will then go to a member of the class of 2015 entering the public sector upon graduation.

We have energetically revamped the program over the past few years, because we are confident that it is a meaningful addition to the Harvard Law School community. As you may know, Yale, Berkeley, and other top law schools have similar programs that have been very successful. We want to take this opportunity to tell you why we believe Harvard should have such a program and and why you should consider donating to One Day’s Work.

Why should you donate?

Do the math. Your contribution of one day’s summer pay can help fund a fellow student’s employment for an entire year. The Harvard Law School community supports its own. If you have secured a private sector summer job, you now have the opportunity to give back to your community and support your fellow students.

But it’s not just about the money. As Professor Steiker explained eloquently: “The beauty of “One Day’s Work” is that it is a way for us to come together as a community in support of the public-spirited work of our classmates and students. This is a form of charity; yes. But it is also an affirmation of our collective aspirations and a way to promote the potentially transformative careers of individuals we know personally, whose talent and commitment we have helped develop and can continue to nurture.”

You might be thinking…aren’t there already numerous public interest fellowships available for students pursuing careers in the public sector?

While there are some public interest fellowships available, the demand for such fellowships far outstrips their supply. There are incredibly talented students willing to work in the public sector for very little money. However, these highly qualified students are nevertheless having a difficult time finding a job because the economy has devastated entry-level hiring in non-profits, government, and the like. Thus, this fellowship fulfills a need felt by both Harvard Law School graduates and the public sector organizations themselves. The money is not meant to enhance someone’s salary; instead, it will be awarded to an individual who would not otherwise receive funding.

Professor Rubenstein, a former recipient of an HLS student-funded fellowship explains: “When I graduated from HLS in 1986, I wanted to work on HIV-related legal issues because my friends were dying and I assumed I would too. I pleaded with the ACLU and other groups to hire me, but no money was available. My own HLS classmates came to the rescue. We had a program then called the 1% solution. Classmates contributed 1% of their income into a pool and the money was used to provide fellowships to those of us in the class pursuing public interest jobs. I secured one of these coveted Harvard Fellowships in Public Interest Law, called the ACLU back, told them I could pay my own way, and I soon joined their national legal staff and helped launch their AIDS Project. Without my classmates’ funding support, I would not have been able to undertake this public interest work at that critical moment. Opportunities remain limited. It would be terrific to have a program like this re-launched at HLS.”

Okay…sounds good but how is the fellowship awarded?

The Office of Public Interest Advising will administer the selection process. Specifically, a selection committee comprised of administrators and alumni appointed by Dean Minow will review applications and select the recipient. This decision will be based on the potential for an outstanding career in public service. Factors to be considered include the applicants’ summer jobs, clinical and externship placements, course selection, and research projects that demonstrate an interest in and the skills to perform the proposed work.

We’re students! Can anyone really afford to donate an entire day’s pay?

One Day’s Work has already had a solid measure of success for the classes of 2013 and 2014. Students, professors, and law firms have graciously donated their money, time, and effort to the initiative. While students are encouraged to donate one day’s worth of their summer salary, any donation is greatly appreciated and will still help One Day’s Work reach its goal of funding students entering the public sector upon graduation. This year we hope to reach our goal of $45,000 so that we can collectively fund a member of the class of 2015’s salary for a full post-graduation year.

Thank you! We look forward to working with you and the Harvard Law School community to make One Day’s Work a continued success.


Esther Silberstein, ’15 and Amal El Bakhar, ‘16

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