Our annual Summer Research Fellowship (SRF) brings together outstanding law students, PhD candidates, and postdocs to carry out longtermist legal research. Over the course of 10 weeks, fellows work on their own research projects, attend lightning talks and social events, give presentations, and engage with LPP researchers and other participants. Fellows enjoy a highly interdisciplinary and friendly research environment, and work together with intellectually curious colleagues who deeply care about protecting the interests of future generations.FAQs
About the SRF
Our first SRF took place in summer 2020. The following 6 fellows were part of the first cohort: Cecil Abungu (LLM at Harvard ‘20), D Black (JD at Yale ‘22), Lingxi Chenyang (JD at Yale ‘20 / PhD at Michigan ‘22), Lisa Forsberg (Postdoc at Oxford), Alasdair Phillips-Robins (JD at Yale ‘22), and Leor Zmigrod (Postdoc at Cambridge).
For 10 weeks, the fellows worked on different research projects that focused on improving the long-term future. Topics included representing the interests of future generations in the U.S. democratic process, the cognitive underpinnings of legal longtermism, and clarifying the extent to which the “public interest” in English law includes future generations. We also organized a number of group events: fellows presented their research results, we enjoyed fascinating guest talks, had virtual icebreakers, other social events, and many one-on-one conversations. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the fellowship was fully remote.
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We have tried to make the application process as simple as possible. The details might change from year to year, but the application process usually consists of two rounds. In the first round, we ask you to fill out a simple form and to send us your CV, a short research proposal, and (optionally) a piece of research you have carried out in the past. We ask you to keep your answers short since we believe that longer answers would not increase applicants’ chances of making it to the second round. This second round consists of two short (usually 30-minute long) online interviews with LPP researchers. While we do our best to make final decisions as fast as possible, you can let us know if you need an earlier decision. Please only do so in exceptional circumstances (for example, if you have other offers and need to decide sooner).
Since we expect applicants to take the lead on a research project, the fellowship is targeted primarily at graduate law students, PhD candidates, and postdocs working in law. Students approaching the final year of a 5-year undergraduate law degree are also welcome to apply. We might run different programs targeted at undergraduate students in the future, so make sure to stay up-to-date with our activities. We encourage more experienced researchers, for whom the fellowship might not be well suited, to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore other ways to collaborate.
Our research is primarily motivated by the ideas of effective altruism, and especially longtermism, so we expect applicants to be at least somewhat familiar with both. If you have not yet engaged with these ideas and would like to do so, we recommend having a look at the various resources offered by the Global Priorities Institute at Oxford University, such as Greaves’ and Macaskill’s paper on ‘the case for strong longtermism’. Toby Ord’s ‘The Precipice’ offers a very readable introduction to a variety of existential risks. You can also find a comprehensive list of research projects carried out by LPP researchers and previous summer research fellows here.
We are primarily interested in understanding whether you can identify novel research questions around longtermism as applied to legal studies. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily the project you will have to be working on during the fellowship. We will discuss with you whether your original research proposal is the ideal project for you to work on. Perhaps your research preferences shift after an initial exploratory phase at the beginning of the fellowship, which is absolutely normal.
You can also submit more than one proposal but the total length should still be under two pages including references. (That is, do not submit separate documents for each proposal but a single one up to two pages long.)
In 2020 the fellowship took place entirely remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021 the fellowship originally consisted of eight weeks of remote work plus a two-week in-person symposium in Mexico City. The symposium was canceled due to COVID but fellows were invited to join the Legal Priorities Summer Institute in 2022 instead.
Starting in 2021, we are dedicating two weeks of the summer research fellowship to an in-person symposium. By default, the symposium takes place in Mexico City. We believe that face-to-face interactions among fellows and LPP staff can lead to higher-quality discussions and, as a result, valuable research insights.
The symposium is intended to allow fellows to dive even deeper into their research project by getting extensive feedback from other fellows and LPP researchers. All fellows are expected to give a brief presentation of their research project. We also invite guest speakers and there is plenty of time to socialize and to explore the city.
The SRF Symposium takes place in Mexico City by default. You do not need a visa if you are a citizen of any of these countries. You do need a visa if you are a citizen of any of these countries (unless you have a residence permit or visa to live in one of various countries; we are happy to advise). If you need a visa, please get in touch with us as early as possible to help you arrange one.
Since the symposium is an integral part of the SRF, we strongly prefer candidates who can attend it. You can let us know when applying if you cannot attend, and we can discuss your situation.
Fellows primarily work on their research projects in close collaboration with an LPP researcher. We work together with fellows to come up with projects they are excited to work on. We value teamwork and encourage everyone to collaborate and give feedback to other researchers whenever possible. Fellows are welcome to come up with their own ideas on how to improve the SRF, which could include:
- Starting reading groups
- Having one-on-one conversations with others
- Organizing social events
- Giving talks or hosting workshops on any topics you may be interested in
Fellows can expect to work alongside supportive and kind colleagues who deeply care about doing the most good they can through law. We care about creating a friendly atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas openly and challenging others. Past fellows have highlighted this friendly and supportive atmosphere.
We support fellows in their aim to publish their research projects in law reviews, peer-reviewed journals, our working paper series or similar. You may also focus on exploratory research, and submit a report of your findings at the end of the fellowship.
Yes. Indeed, we may be able to connect you to relevant policymakers in your field.
The fellowship is an excellent opportunity to get in touch with LPP’s work. Additionally, the fellowship can be a great way to explore possibilities for future collaborations as we may continue to support specific projects through grants. Fellows will also be invited to future events organized by LPP.
We pay all fellows a stipend of USD 7,000 for the whole duration of the program. The stipend includes roughly USD 2,000 to cover travel and accommodation expenses for the two-week symposium in Mexico City. Fellows are not employed by LPP.