Public interest-minded students at four of the country’s most prestigious law schools have the chance to snag lucrative 10-week fellowships next summer.

The Ford Foundation on September 13 announced plans to place as many as 100 students from Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, New York University School of Law and Yale Law School in public interest summer jobs in 2013.

Public interest fellowships typically pay stipends just large enough to cover basic costs. By contrast, the Ford fellows will receive $15,000 for summer work at an array of high-profile public interest organizations, including the Brookings Institution, the Environmental Defense Fund and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The foundation has committed $1.75 million for the inaugural year.

“This program opens up a new pathway for law students to gain practical and transformative experience working on many of the defining social justices issues of our age,” said Ford Foundation president Luis Ubiñas. “We believe it will offer them invaluable knowledge and understanding that will inform their careers, whether public or private, while bringing fresh talent to organizations working to advance fairness and freedom.”

The fellowships will go to “high performing” 1Ls and 2Ls at the designated law schools, which were selected because of their history of partnership with the Ford Foundation, he said.

“This is an impressive new investment by the Foundation,” Stanford dean Elizabeth Magill said. “Recipients will benefit from incredibly generous support, develop a deeper understanding of global and domestic issues and become the leading edge of the new generation of lawyers devoted to advancing the public good through law.”

NYU dean Richard Revesz said it was an honor to be part of the program, while Yale law dean Robert Post said the school is “deeply grateful.”

“We are excited to be included in this visionary program,” Post said. “We expect that it will substantially affect how our students inhabit their future roles as leaders in law, business, government and academia.”

Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com.