Sustainable Development Fellowship via Idealist

International Senior Lawyers Project

New York, NY, US



Reporting to Director for Sustainable Development

The International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) is looking for a one-year fellow to assist the Director for Sustainable Economic Development with the management of her focus areas of responsibility, i.e. natural resources management, investment & trade. The ISLP fellowship will offer a recent law graduate a unique opportunity to participate in the strategic mobilization of deep legal expertise in support of the macro and micro economic development efforts of organizations and governments in developing countries, with a focus in Africa. Further, it will offer the opportunity of a close relationship of mentorship for a graduate who is interested in pursuing a career in the economic development field, as well as connections with high-level lawyers, development agencies, and developing country governments.

The fellowship is a full-time one-year position based in ISLP’s New York office. Funding is contingent upon public interest fellowship awards provided by the law school from which the fellow graduated or another funding source. ISLP may also provide health insurance coverage.

About ISLP

The ISLP is a small, dynamic, New York- and London-based nongovernmental organization that helps communities, developing country governments, and civil society organizations navigate increasingly complex trends and forces in development. ISLP provides support to its clients in order to level the playing field between developing country governments, civil society organizations, and affected communities on the one hand and multi-national and supra-national actors (including multi-national corporations and international financial institutions) on the other. ISLP supports “just and accountable development” that is supportive of human rights and strengthens the rule of law by mobilizing its unique network of highly skilled and experienced pro bono lawyers. With on-the-ground experience in nearly 50 countries, ISLP has a unique ability to mobilize lawyers with decades of relevant experience to provide technical assistance, capacity building, training and mentoring, legal research and analysis, and direct legal counsel in significant transactional matters. Because ISLP projects are client driven, they are informed by a sensitivity to local needs, resources, and priorities, which helps to shape each project for maximum impact.

Since it began active programming in late 2001, ISLP has provided more than $110 million in volunteer legal assistance to governments and NGOs in developing countries by helping them to develop and implement legal reforms, advance the social and economic well-being of their people, and build the capacity of local organizations and professionals to meet the needs of their communities.

Sustainable Economic Development

Many African countries are resource rich, but their economic growth may be inhibited if their natural resources and general economic potential is not managed in a fair, transparent, and accountable manner. ISLP offers technical assistance, training, support in drafting laws, regulations, and policy, and direct assistance with the negotiation of major natural resource agreements to carefully selected governments. ISLP’s clients in the natural resource management focus area have included Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Guinea, Zambia, Rwanda, and Madagascar. In addition, ISLP helps emerging states capture much-needed revenue to fund basic public services, support sustainable growth, and contribute to better governance under our investment, trade and tax focus areas.

ISLP seeks a qualified and motivated Fellow to support the work of the Director for Sustainable Development. The fellowship will provide the fellow with valuable experience in strategically developing and managing projects, with a focus in Africa. It will also afford the fellow the opportunity to attend relevant conferences, workshops, and other events; to work closely and form connections with outside experts, and partner organizations in the economic development field; and to benefit from the close mentorship afforded by ISLP’s closely-knit staff. To ensure these outcomes, ISLP will work with the fellow to design a tailored fellowship experience. On a day-to-day basis, the fellow will work closely with the Director, who will provide frequent feedback and mentorship. ISLP’s Executive Director will also meet with the fellow on a regular basis to discuss the fellowship and to offer support for the fellow’s professional development. Given the nature of ISLP, the Fellow should be highly motivated, work well under tight deadlines, and be comfortable working with a small, dedicated, and highly skilled team in an informal, non-hierarchical, and fast-paced environment. Project management responsibilities of the Fellow will require thoughtful, diplomatic, and timely communications with high-level lawyers, foreign government officials, grassroots civil society organizations, international NGO partners, and others.

Duties and Responsibilities

A fellow would be expected to:

  • Assist in the development and implementation of projects by:
    • working with clients to elaborate their needs and determine how ISLP can best meet those needs;
    • compiling and updating briefing materials regarding legal, political, historical, and cultural issues relevant to a given project;
    • drafting documents describing the goals and terms of reference for on-site assistance; and
    • communicating with clients and volunteer attorneys to ensure the proper and timely implementation of the projects.
    • Conduct diligence on potential projects including potential client governments, civil society organizations, and local context.
    • Prepare research agenda for external research teams and oversee production of externally produced research.
    • Assist program staff in developing and orchestrating roundtable discussions on key issues that arise in ISLP’s work.
    • Help cultivate ISLP’s base of pro bono lawyers for specific focus areas.
    • Help build ISLP’s portfolio of partners and clients by identifying new potential partners and drafting outreach materials.
    • Assist in reporting to grantors.
    • If necessary, accompany program staff and/or volunteers on in-country assignments to develop or assess impact of projects.

Qualifications and Experience

The fellow must have the following qualifications:

  • A law degree (JD or LLM);
  • Excellent organizational skills, including attention to detail and the ability to manage numerous tasks simultaneously, work independently to meet goals, and follow up until a task is completed;
  • Diplomacy, flexibility, patience, persistence, excellent inter-personal skills, a sensitivity to cross-cultural issues, and high ethical standards;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills;
  • A demonstrated interest in international law projects that promote the rule of law, and sustainable economic development in emerging markets and developing countries.

Preferred qualifications include:

  • Experience working or living in Africa; and
  • The ability to work in French.