1. Who created the Blackstone Legal Fellowship?
The Blackstone Legal Fellowship is a program of Alliance Defending Freedom, an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith. Visit www.ADFlegal.org to learn more.
2. Why is the program named the Blackstone Legal Fellowship?
The program is named for Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), a contemporary of the framers of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. An English judge who went on to become the first Vinerian professor of law at Oxford University, Blackstone is best known for his Commentaries on the Laws of England.
The Commentaries were the original foundation for legal education in America and a work that would dominate the common law legal system for centuries. Indeed, they had a pervasive and profound impact on the United States Constitution and whose concept of absolute rights formed the basic premise of our Declaration of Independence.
In the Commentaries, Blackstone explained that the basis upon which English Common Law resides is a higher law, the law written by God and found in His scriptures and the created order. Blackstone says, “when the Supreme Being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be.” Because of this, William Blackstone argues, “the first and primary end of human laws is to maintain . . . these absolute [i.e. God-given] rights of individuals.” Accordingly, man lacks authority to write a law that contradicts God’s law. Blackstone called this concept “ultra vires,” which means it is beyond the authority of man to write a law that violates God’s law. Blackstone also said that law is fixed, it is uniform, and it is universal. It does not change based on who the President is, or who holds judicial positions. It is the same law for everyone at all times and in all places.
Blackstone’s influence on American law can hardly be overstated. His writings trained nearly every American lawyer until the mid-19th century. Unfortunately, his influence and the Christian worldview have since been virtually eradicated from American law schools. For this reason, Alliance Defending Freedom named its prestigious law student program the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, representing a new generation of lawyers, men and women of Christian conviction, passion, and intelligence, being equipped to serve as leaders within the legal culture, proposed by Blackstone’s vision of the law to foster legal systems that fully protect our God-given rights.
3. When did Blackstone begin?
The Blackstone Legal Fellowship launched in 2000 with 24 interns and has grown to 158 interns in 2015. To date, over 1,600 law students from more than 225 law schools in 21 different countries have participated in Blackstone. Through Blackstone, these students have participated in internships with more than 300 different organizations and attorneys worldwide.
4. Who is eligible to apply for Blackstone?
The Blackstone Legal Fellowship seeks accomplished law students who are committed to their faith and are dedicated to impacting the law-profession culture.
5. What criteria are used to select students for Blackstone?
Criteria for selection include: strong academic performance; leadership skills, both exhibited and potential; maturity of faith and character; and commitment to legal and cultural engagement.
6. When is the deadline for Applications?
The deadline for receipt of your application is Wednesday, January 3rd. All items must be uploaded to your online application file by 11:59 p.m. on this date (Mountain Standard Time).
It is the student’s responsibility to remind their recommenders of the deadline date. Exceptions will be made for law school transcripts only. However, a request for such transcripts from the law school must be made before the deadline date.
7. What if my law school grades are not posted before the application deadline date?
We understand that not all grades will be posted before our deadline. It will not adversely affect your application if your grades are not posted. Unofficial transcripts should be submitted immediately when grades are fully released, with official transcripts mailed in thereafter.
8. What is the letter of recommendation process?
There are two options provided within the online application.
You may supply the names and contact information of your recommenders in the appropriate application section. An email will automatically be sent to your recommenders, providing the online recommendation form. After your recommender completes the form online, it will be sent directly to the Blackstone Legal Fellowship staff.
Alternatively, if you prefer to review the completed recommendation form before it is submitted, it will be your responsibility to transmit the form to your recommenders. Upon completion, the recommenders can email, mail, or fax the completed form back to the Blackstone Legal Fellowship staff.
Finally, please note that a traditional letter of recommendation may accompany the recommendation form, but it is not required. We only need to receive the completed form from your recommenders. If a recommender chooses to send additional information, he or she may do so by email, mail, or fax.
9. My transcripts and recommendation forms have been submitted, so why does my online file still read incomplete?
Please allow 2-3 business days after the documents are received for the online application file to be updated. This is due to the high number of applicants and documents mailed to our offices. Please note: It is your responsibility to remind the recommenders of the deadline date.
10. How can I see what essays need to be submitted?
The first step in the application process is to complete the application form. Once the application form is complete, the other steps of the application process will be made available. You will then be able to upload documents and send requests for letters of recommendation.
11. How will I know if I am accepted into Blackstone?
All applicants will be notified via email in mid-February whether they have been accepted to Blackstone. Accepted applicants will have five days to accept the offer by providing additional information online. Acceptance letters for Blackstone are not offers of employment, but serve to confirm acceptance for participation in the summer program.
12. How many students are accepted into Blackstone?
The 2015 class included 158 Interns. We anticipate the 2016 class will be a similar size.
13. How much does it cost to participate in Blackstone?
Airfare, lodging, and most meals for Phases I and III are provided at no cost to Interns. For Phase II, housing and airfare to and from the internship are also included for most Interns. Note that if international travel is required, you are responsible for obtaining and paying for your passport. Occasionally, Interns are able to provide their own lodging already procured, with family members or with personal friends.
Additionally, Interns receive a scholarship for participation in the Blackstone Legal Fellowship.
14. What type of scholarship is received?
Only students accepted into the Blackstone Legal Fellowship are eligible for the Blackstone Legal Fellowship scholarship. The $6,300 scholarship is considered to be a qualified scholarship within the meaning of IRC section 117. It is intended to assist individual students who are candidates for degrees from educational organizations and to defray qualified educational expenses.
15. Do I have to attend all three weeks of Phase I and III?
Yes. Attendance is mandatory for all sessions during Phase I and III, including weekends. Free time is scheduled into the program. If you have a commitment during Phase I or III, you must obtain permission to leave from the Blackstone Legal Fellowship staff. Typically this permission is only granted for an immediate family member’s wedding, a family emergency, or an important career opportunity that cannot be rescheduled.
16. May I request a specific internship for Phase II?
Yes, though we cannot guarantee you will obtain a particular internship. Upon acceptance to the Fellowship, the Blackstone staff works with each Intern to identify the best available option to advance the Intern’s specific career objectives.
Blackstone has many potential internship opportunities available for its students. In past years, Interns have served in virtually every area of the legal system, including law firms, domestic and international public interest and policy organizations, think tanks, with law professors, and in state and federal government offices.
Interns also have the option of arranging their own internships as long as the internship fits within the Blackstone schedule and is approved in advance by the Blackstone staff.
17. What if I am married?
Spouses of Interns are not permitted to attend Phase I or Phase III. We will make every attempt for married Interns to work in a location where they can be with their spouses for the six-week Phase II internship portion. Travel expenses for your family to and from Phase II are your responsibility.
18. Am I able to take days off during Phase II?
Blackstone Interns generally have weekends off during Phase II. We have found that students need to be ready to serve full time during the relatively short six weeks in order to have a valuable experience. If an Intern has a commitment which would require missing work during Phase II, permission to leave must be received from the Blackstone Legal Fellowship staff, as well as the Phase II organization.
19. Where is Blackstone held?
Phases I and III are held at a premier location in the Eastern United States. Phase II takes place across the U.S. and on multiple continents.
20. What if I don’t want to practice at a law firm?
Blackstone is as broad as the law profession culture. While many Blackstone Interns go on to practice law in prominent law firms, others join public interest and policy organizations, work in think tanks, join academia, or serve in state and federal government offices.
21. I hope to clerk after graduation; shouldn’t I spend my first summer externing for a judge?
Blackstone is a holistic experience, in that it prepares Interns for careers marked by integrity, excellence, and leadership. These are attributes that will serve you well in whatever your future pursuits may be. But recognizing that some students may already have clearly defined goals, the Blackstone staff is happy to work with Interns who have secured their own Phase II internship, as long as it fits within the Blackstone schedule and is approved by the Blackstone staff. Thus, it may be possible to attend Blackstone and extern for a judge.
Moreover, during Phase III, Interns receive practical career advice on topics including clerkships. There is also an opportunity to be selected to attend a specialized clerkship training event during the summer, and to receive ongoing advice from Blackstone’s Professional Development team. These opportunities and the professional network Interns form with other participants, lecturers, and Blackstone staff, can be invaluable as you navigate the process of applying for clerkships.