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Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program

Applications for the 2023 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship are now open. 

Deadline: February 1, 2023 at 11:59 pm CST

The Opportunity 

The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is accepting applications for Undergraduate Research Fellows to gain exposure to sociolegal research during the Summer of 2023. 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, 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. It also provides 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 their 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, 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 intellectual property (IP) law firm, met one-on-one with admissions representatives from local law schools, and Zoomed with social justice-oriented nonprofits like the Cabrini Green Legal Aid and Uptown People’s Law Center.

All Fellows will participate in the program 35 hours a week in our Chicago, IL, office on a hybrid schedule (i.e., some days working in the office, some days remotely) from June 5 to July 28, 2023, and receive a gross stipend of $6,000.


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 underrepresented in the fields of law and social science are encouraged to apply.

Applications will be considered only from students currently enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States. Students must have completed at least two years of their undergraduate program and must not have received a bachelor’s degree by the time the fellowship begins. All qualified candidates who are authorized to work in the United States are encouraged to apply. However, please note that the ABF is not able to sponsor employment visas at this time.


Completed applications must be received by February 1, 2023, at 11:59 PM CST. 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 2023. Final decisions are expected to be announced in March 2023. Please read all application instructions before beginning the application process.

To apply online, please visit: 

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

1) Resume or academic CV.

2) Unofficial transcript of academic courses completed at the time of application.

3) One confidential letter of recommendation from a faculty member familiar with the student’s academic work, uploaded via the application portal. Please see the instructions below on how to submit the letter of recommendation.

4) An optional writing sample from any academic discipline.

5) 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 plans and goals. In addition, please discuss how the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship’s commitment to mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds will benefit you.”

 Letter of Recommendation Instructions 

To have their application considered complete, candidates must have one letter of recommendation submitted directly by their recommender through the application portal by February 15, 2023, at 11:59 PM CST. The online application form will ask applicants to provide the name and contact information of one faculty member familiar with the student’s academic work. Once the application form is submitted, the faculty member will receive an email with a link to provide their recommendation. We ask that students consult with this faculty member before submitting their online application.

If you have questions about the application process or the position, please direct inquiries to  with the subject line “Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship". 

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 with 70 years of experience, 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.


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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