To train young lawyers in the general skills of practice and the specific perspective of socio-legal lawyering. We want to establish a fellowship program for recent law graduates from across Maharashtra who are committed to human rights. The fellows will work for 18 months at our organization and then return to their home districts where we will help them to establish their own socio-legal practice by helping them to make connections with local NGOs and providing them with financial support for the first year. We will also put them on track to become members of their local Legal Aid Bureaus. Over time, we hope to develop a network of socio-legal lawyers across Maharashtra, and eventually throughout the nation.
We will employ a rigorous selection process that involves applications by interested students, and then interviews of a select number of them. The interviews will be conducted by members of our staff and several experts from the community. After several days of interviews, we will select our four fellows. Within the selection process, preference will be shown to students from different parts of Maharashtra who intend to return to their home districts. We will also endeavor to ensure equal numbers of male and female fellows.
Rough outline of the program:
For the first three months, newly graduated 2011 fellows will shadow and learn from our staff advocates and the senior fellows (from 2010) who already have a year with the organization. Once they begin to feel comfortable with court procedures, the 2011 fellows will begin to take larger roles in our cases, always supervised by a more experienced advocate. After six months, the 2010 fellows will have completed their term and they will leave to start their own practices. The remaining 2011 fellows will have six months to begin taking the lead on cases with the advice of our experienced advocates. This will be the time that we have the most interaction with them, advising them and training them of the best practices for their cases.
This project will only become more effective the longer we keep it going and the larger the network grows. We will try to keep spreading our fellows across all of the districts of Maharashtra and eventually throughout the nation. In doing so, we will be giving these young lawyers a start and improving the lives of the members of their communities. Additionally, as the program continues, it will hopefully attract more attention and applicants, giving us a larger pool from which to draw out fellows.