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Bridge to Practice Fellowship Program

The four-month Bridge to Practice Fellowship is a post-graduate launch pad to career success for students, opening doors to government and public interest law. Recipients of these fellowships have pursued internships with the International Criminal Tribunal, the United States Congress, the Federal Public Defender, and more. Fellowship placements are paired with enhanced career development services to ensure success.

Learn about the application process, and meet some of our Bridge to Practice alumni below!

Bolen

Jacquelyn Bolen, L’15

Jacquelyn Bolen describes her area of professional interest as “law meets medicine.”

Her interests led her to Capitol Hill, but with legislative policy work, Bolen explained, “It can take a while to get hired.” She had interned with the House Judiciary Committee during her 2L summer, but still felt she needed more experience before landing a permanent job. That’s where her Bridge to Practice Fellowship came in.

Bolen used her fellowship to fund a position with the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “I thought my legal skills could be of most use on a Committee,” she said, “and Ways and Means was very open to having fellows and their work fit my interests perfectly.” Ways and Means has jurisdiction over healthcare delivery system reform and the Medicare payment structure. “That was where my focus was: really learning the public payment system for health care,” said Bolen. 

“Bridge to Practice gave me that intermediary period that was really critical to me getting hired,” she added. “I could get that foundational experience and feel like a real staffer.”

For Bolen, the four-month internship segued into a full-time position on the Hill, with the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “I feel like I have the opportunity to really make a career here,” said Bolen.

Faulkner

Morgan Faulkner, L’15

For Morgan Faulkner, “I thought a public defender’s office would be the best place to start my career, because they have so many attorneys, so many different styles, and such good training.” Faulkner knew that she wanted to go into criminal law—and defense in particular—when she loaded up on criminal law classes after transferring to Richmond in her 2L year. She also interned in the Office of the Federal Public Defender and the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for King William.

A fellowship at the Richmond Public Defender’s Office was a natural next step. One of the best parts of the position, for Faulkner, was the most basic: “I was here every day, I was meeting all the attorneys in the office, the judges, the clerks.” And those relationships would prove to be important ones, particularly when Faulkner secured a full-time position as assistant public defender in the same office where she had interned.

“I think that, especially for getting a job in a public defender’s office or commonwealth attorney’s office, it’s so important to get your foot in the door,” she explained. “They really like to see what you can do before they hire you, because our job is so high stakes. We’re dealing with people’s liberty.”

Stuart

Jessica Stuart, L’13

Jessica Stuart focused her job search entirely in the public interest field. “I knew that that was what I wanted to do,” and that certainty “presented some challenges in breaking into a new legal market,” Stuart said. Following graduation, she’d be moving to Georgia with her husband.

The Bridge to Practice Fellowship for Stuart came to fruition at Georgia Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm that serves rural areas. Stuart presented her case to the firm for a fellowship position, explaining that she had the financial support of her law school. After landing the job, Stuart was able to focus on education, her primary interest area.

Once the internship ended, Georgia Legal Services offered Stuart a full-time position. The fellowship “definitely did open a door to my current position,” said Stuart. Today, she’s on the Education Action Team, working with community partners and stakeholders to try to get the word out about her organization’s mission. “I’m really proud of the work we do,” said Stuart.

Tyson

Antrell Tyson, L’14

After graduation from Richmond Law, Antrell Tyson’s first fellowship was with the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Richmond. His next step was another fellowship, as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Science and Technology Fellow for 2014-2016.

"The Bridge to Practice Fellowship was a wonderful opportunity because it allowed me to get into the courtroom immediately after taking the Bar Exam,” said Tyson. “I was able to work with and learn from some of the best trial attorneys in the Bar.”

Tyson also explained that his time with the Federal Public Defender’s Office gave him valuable perspective on the work he did with the CBCF. "I spent a lot of time observing how federal criminal laws were implemented 'on the ground,' so to speak,” said Tyson. “This experience gave me a better perspective on how laws can disproportionately impact some communities more than others. Although working for Congress requires me to work on a broader range of policy areas, my Bridge to Practice experience reminds me that there is always a human element involved in creating laws or regulations."

While serving on the CBCF, Tyson also worked in Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson’s office and the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. Today, he has started a full-time position as legislative counsel for Congresswoman Wilson.