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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program

Applications are now closed. 

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 over 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

The ABF is accepting applications for Undergraduate Research Fellows to work remotely with ABF faculty as research assistants during the Summer of 2021.  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 their research. Preference will be given to candidates from underrepresented backgrounds in the legal field or social sciences, including but not limited to first-generation and low-income students and students of color.

This fellowship introduces undergraduate students to the rewards and demands of a research-oriented career in 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. In addition to partnering with a faculty mentor, Fellows will meet with other ABF faculty and affiliates.

Fellows also participate in a series of in-house seminars and information sessions with legal professionals 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, and Zoomed with social justice-oriented nonprofits like the Heartland Alliance and Uptown People’s Law Center.

All Fellows will work 35 hours a week from June 7 to July 30, 2021, and receive a stipend of $4,000. Because of the ongoing pandemic, students will work remotely.


These fellowships foster a diverse and inclusive community for underrepresented individuals in the fields of law and social science.  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. 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).


Applications will open on November 1, 2020.  Completed applications must be received by February 1, 2021.  Due to the large volume of applications, late applications cannot be reviewed. Selected candidates will be invited to interview in late February or early March 2021. Final decisions are expected to be announced in March 2021.

To apply online, please visit:

For further information, please contact Breck Radulovic at 

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

  • Resume or academic CV.
  •  Unofficial transcript of academic courses completed at the time of application.
  • One confidential letter of recommendation from a faculty member familiar with the student’s academic work, uploaded via Interfolio.
  • An optional writing sample from any academic discipline.
  • One personal statement responding to the prompt below.

In 750 – 1000 words, please respond to the following prompt: “The motto of the American Bar Foundation is ‘Expanding Knowledge, Advancing Justice.’ This motto signifies the ABF’s mission to advance the understanding and improvement of law through research on the most pressing issues facing the legal system in the United States and the world.  In your personal statement, tell us how you uphold these values through your academic and work experience, as well as in your future plans and goals. In addition, please discuss how the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship’s commitment to mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds will benefit you.”


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

Read the 2019 Report of the Undergraduate Research Diversity Fellowship Program

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