The University of Pennsylvania Law School is doubling the number of public-service fellowships available to new graduates.

The Catalyst Grant fellowships will provide stipends for between six and eight graduates who take up yearlong volunteer attorney stints in federal, state or local government; in public defender offices; or in nongovernmental organizations or international tribunals.

Since 2009, the school has offered six public-interest fellowships each year, intended to help young attorneys earn a year of practical experience at agencies or organizations that lack the resources to hire them.

“To solve the problems our country faces, it’s crucial that new generations of lawyers dedicate themselves to public service, including and especially in government,” dean Michael Fitts said. “The new program builds upon our existing programs and on our historic commitment to making careers in government and public interest work accessible to our graduates.

Recipients of the grants will receive up to $25,000 and will qualify for the school’s student loan assistance program, which can cover the entire student loan payment for most Penn graduates in public-interest law jobs up to a $140,000 cap.

“It makes such a difference when we can offer students the means to just get a foot in the door—the catalyst grants enable students to approach organizations and agencies that otherwise might not consider them,” said associate dean Arlene Finkelstein, who oversees the school’s Toll Public Interest Center. “They will have the opportunity to work as staff attorneys in or law-related jobs to gain experience, to establish a reputation that will make them even stronger candidates for long-term positions when funding becomes available, and of course to address critical and otherwise unmet social needs.”

Funding for the new grants comes from donations. The school will begin offering the grants to 2014 graduates.

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