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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program

Applications for the 2020 fellowship are now closed. 

Video of California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino "Tino" Cuéllar (SRDF 1992) speaking about his experience in the program.

About Us

The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is among the world’s leading research institutes for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law. An independent, nonprofit organization for more than 65 years, the ABF seeks to advance the understanding and improvement of law through research projects on the most pressing issues facing the legal system in the United States and in the world. Many of the ABF’s resident research faculty members hold joint appointments at Chicago-area universities, including Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

The Opportunity

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows will work in ABF’s office in Chicago during the Summer of 2020. We are particularly impressed by students who demonstrate a strong work ethic and intellectual curiosity, and who take initiative with mentors by asking questions and expressing a genuine interest in the subject matter. Preference will be given to candidates who aspire to be a first-generation law student.

This fellowship is designed to introduce undergraduate students to the rewards and demands of a research-oriented career in the field of law and/or social science, as well as to provide guidance about the many career options under the umbrella of the legal profession. Each Fellow will be assigned an ABF research professor who will involve the Fellow in his or her research project and act as a mentor during the Fellow’s tenure. In previous years, fellows have supported faculty members’ work by conducting archival research, creating literature reviews about minority groups in the legal profession, and coding qualitative data collected from interviews and newspaper reports.

Fellows also participate in a series of in-house seminars and field visits to get acquainted with the many facets of sociolegal research and the legal system, as well as create the opportunity for long-lasting professional relationships in the sociolegal field. Past Fellows interacted with attorneys at an international law firm and a boutique IP law firm, met one-on-one with admissions representatives from local law schools, observed criminal court proceedings, and visited social justice-oriented nonprofits like the Heartland Alliance and Uptown People’s Law Center.

All Fellows will work at the ABF’s office in Chicago on a full-time basis from June 8 to July 31, 2020 and receive a stipend of $3,600. The ABF will arrange and pay for housing in downtown Chicago during their stay and cover the costs of domestic transportation to and from Chicago.


These fellowships are designed to foster a diverse and inclusive community for underrepresented individuals in the fields of law and social science. To that end, individuals who demonstrate a commitment to diversity with respect to economic background, religious affiliation, race, ethnicity, disability, military experience, sexual orientation, and/or gender expression/identity, first generation college students, and other individuals who are diverse and traditionally underrepresented in the fields of law and social science are encouraged to apply.

Applications will be considered only from sophomores and juniors attending colleges and universities in the United States. That is, students must have completed at least their sophomore year and must have not received a bachelor’s degree by the time the fellowship begins. Applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).


Candidates must apply via Interfolio and append all proper documentation to their online application. Required materials include:

  • Two brief essays on the topics indicated in the application form online.
  • A writing sample from any academic discipline.
  • Unofficial transcript of academic courses completed at the time of application (should you be accepted, we will request your official transcript).
  • One confidential letter of recommendation from a faculty member familiar with the student’s academic work, uploaded via Interfolio.
  • Resume or academic CV.

For further information, please contact Breck Radulovic at  

Read the 2019 Report of the Undergraduate Research Diversity Fellowship Program

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