Fellowship Programs

Dear Prospective Student,

Are you passionate about criminal justice issues? Are you excited about intellectual property law?  If you are eager to practice law in either of these areas, Thomas Jefferson School of Law offers you unique programs that are specially designed to make sure you can hit the ground running in these fields the day you graduate from law school – the Criminal Law Fellowship Program and the IP Fellowship Program.

Students in these Programs are regular law students, but they are offered an extensive array of additional opportunities tailored to their individual ambitions. As you’ll see below, this additional programming ensures that they leave the law school with well-developed practice skills, substantial practice experience in their field, and a professional network already in place.



The Criminal Law Fellowship Program brings together a group of students passionate about working in the criminal law, whether as criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, policy-makers, lawmakers, reformers, or activists. 


The Program focuses especially on developing essential practice skills that will help Fellows jump into practice quickly and confidently, and on helping Fellows start networking with attorneys already practicing criminal law so that Fellows can meet future colleagues, mentors, advisors, recommenders, and employers before they finish law school.


In their first year, Fellows are enrolled in dedicated 1L legal writing sections that use problems and materials focused on criminal law issues. They also take a special one unit class, taught by accomplished criminal law practitioners, that introduces them to essential criminal trial skills (such as opening statements, closing arguments, and cross-examination).


After their first year, Fellows can take an intensive trial practice class built around issues that arise in criminal trials. They also start building their practice experience by taking externships working in the field with a district attorney’s or public defender’s office, or with a private criminal defense attorney. And, because they are passionate about practicing criminal law, they have priority in registering for any of the criminal law electives the law school offers.  


The Program also helps Fellows explore the many different kinds of criminal justice practice – and start to build their professional networks -- by hosting several lunch discussions each semester with local criminal law practitioners. Recent speakers have included attorneys from the Public Defender and the Distract Attorney, United States Attorneys, a forensic psychologist who works on death penalty cases, a Thomas Jefferson graduate who teaches criminology and works on prison reform, a DUI expert, a prosecutor and a defense attorney who specialize in sex offense cases, attorneys who specialize in criminal appeals, several private criminal defense attorneys, and a bail bondsman.    


Building on these opportunities, Fellows have found great placements during their externships and internships, and after they graduate. Many work with the San Diego Public Defender and the San Diego District Attorney, and with public defenders and district attorneys throughout the United States. Others have worked with the U.S. Attorneys Office, a local Innocence Project, and many very successful private criminal defense attorneys.  And many have been able to hit the ground running by starting their own practice as private criminal defense attorneys.


This is a great program for students who are passionate about practicing criminal law. If you are interested in exploring the Criminal Law Fellowship Program further, the Program Director would be happy to answer any questions you have or put you in touch with a current Criminal Law Fellow whose interests are similar to yours. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Professor Anders Kaye by phone (619-961-4259) or email.




The IP Fellowship Program provides an extraordinary set of opportunities for law students pursuing careers in IP-related fields.


While students at most schools cannot take an intellectual property course until their second year, students in our Program get to jump right in during their first year with a special introductory course covering patent, copyright, and trademark law, as well as lots of other extracurricular opportunities to start exploring the field with practitioners and professors. Upper level students get the full range of doctrinal classes offered at any law school, but our Program also offers an array of special practice-skills building classes that are offered nowhere else.


Perhaps most exciting, the IP Fellowship Program includes live client clinics collectively known as the Small Business Law Center. Under the supervision of law school faculty who are also licensed attorneys, students assist independent inventors, small business, artists, and non-profits to secure patent, copyright, and trademark protection for the inventions, creations, and businesses. For students hungry to plunge into their IP careers, this is a fantastic opportunity to refine practice skills, deepen experience, and start building a professional network in the field.   


IP Fellows also have lots of other unique opportunities. Among other things, they can:

  • work as a research assistant to a professor who specializes in intellectual property law (we have more IP professors than most schools – check us out here;
  • participate in for-credit externships working “in-house” for corporations and experienced intellectual property lawyers in the San Diego legal community and throughout the country;
  • compete in interschool competitions dealing with IP law;
  • write and publish papers under the supervision of a faculty member; and should you choose to take the patent bar, we will assist you in numerous ways.


The Program pays off for our students. The skills and networks Fellows develop in the Program have helped many of them land rewarding jobs in IP fields after graduation. Many of our patent law graduates have entered major law firms where you would usually expect to find only graduates of the very top law schools. You can read testimonials from students and recent graduates on our website here.


If you are interested in exploring the IP Fellow Program further, the Program Director would be happy to answer any questions you have or put you in touch with a current IP fellow whose interests are similar to yours. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Professor Steve Semeraro by phone (619-961-4305) or email.