1. Who created the Blackstone Legal Fellowship?
The Blackstone Legal Fellowship is a program of Alliance Defending Freedom. ADF is the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, and the sanctity of life. Visit iamadf.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 Thursday, January 7, 2021. All items under the student’s control must be uploaded to the online application file by 11:59 p.m. on this date (Mountain Standard Time).
Recommendations can be received a few days after the application deadline date, and law school transcripts will be submitted after fall grades are released in January of 2021.
7. What is the letter of recommendation process?
You will 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.
8. 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.
9. How can I see what essays need to be submitted?
The first step in the application process is to complete “Step 1” of the application form. Once this is complete, the other steps of the application process will be made available.
10. 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. Acceptance letters for Blackstone are not offers of employment, but serve to confirm acceptance for participation in the summer program.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. May I request a specific internship for Phase II?
Upon acceptance to the Fellowship, the Blackstone staff works with each intern to identify the best available option to advance each intern’s specific career objectives. Past interns have served in virtually every area of the legal system, including law firms, domestic and international public interest and policy organizations, think tanks, law professors, and state and federal government offices.
15. 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 internship 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.