Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Call For Applications: Yale Information Society Project/Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic Fellowship Opening

 

Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic (MFIA) Clinical Fellowship Opening

CLINICAL FELLOWSHIP OPENING

July 1, 2022

The Yale Information Society Project is now accepting applications for a fellowship position with the Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic (MFIA), beginning in July 2022. MFIA is a law student clinic that supports robust investigative journalism, promotes the public’s right of access to information, and protects freedom of expression.

The ideal candidate will have at least two years of relevant litigation experience, including some demonstrated interest in the fields of media law, First Amendment, FOIA, Internet law, administrative law, or intellectual property law.

 

About the MFIA Clinic

Founded in 2009, MFIA was the first law school clinic dedicated to defending the rights of newsgatherers and promoting government transparency. It evolved out of the recognition that new technologies were forcing radical changes on the media market and leaving established news organizations in a financial condition that precluded them from either pursuing the affirmative litigation essential to effective newsgathering or vigorously fighting efforts by governments and others to unmask confidential sources and prevent whistleblowing.

MFIA helps to fill these gaps by providing pro bono legal services to journalists, activists and academics who lack access to the legal services needed to exercise their First Amendment rights and to hold governments accountable. The Clinic pursues affirmative litigation to enforce newsgathering rights, compel access to information and prevent the spread of disinformation, advises on prepublication issues, and defends against lawsuits seeking to punish newsgatherers and publications. MFIA also develops and implements litigation strategies and policy initiatives for achieving structural change in the rules governing government transparency and accountability.

MFIA is a program of the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression at Yale Law School and is administered by the Yale Information Society Project (ISP). Both the ISP and the Abrams Institute are directed by Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment Jack Balkin. The Clinic is directed by Abrams Clinical Lecturer and Senior Research Scholar David Schulz, an experienced media litigator who also serves as Senior Counsel to the Media Practice Group at Ballard Spahr, LLP.

Over the past decade, the MFIA Clinic has achieved successes for a wide range of clients, from individual journalists at start-up websites, to such major news organizations as The New York TimesThe Guardian, the Associated Press, and ProPublica. It has also successfully represented a range of investigative advocacy clients, from individual civil rights activists to international rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Privacy International. The Clinic has a diverse docket organized loosely into four broad areas:

Newsgathering and publication: Defending those exercising the rights afforded by the Constitution’s press clause in a world where online publishing is widespread, and litigating issues that shape the ability of journalists to gather news, including prior restraints, privacy, and the use of new technologies. Current cases include challenges to state drone regulations that impede newsgathering, and to the abusive use of governmental power to punish disfavored news reporting.

Government accountability: Securing information needed for democratic oversight of government operations at both the state and federal level. The Clinic’s current focus includes cases seeking to hold law enforcement and intelligence agencies accountable, including for their actions or inactions leading up to January 6, and to support local investigative journalism in Connecticut, New York and New England.

Constitutional access: Enforcing and expanding the constitutional right of access to governmental proceedings and related records. Current matters include a challenge to the closure of all domestic abuse proceedings in Puerto Rico and motions seeking to define the scope of public access to classified information placed into the records of court proceedings.

Open data: Ensuring access to scientific information and data vital to scientific advancement and fact-based regulatory decisions. Current cases seek to achieve the level of access to medical data needed to ensure the integrity of the new drug approval process and to facilitate academic research.

MFIA also runs the “DocProject,” a dedicated team of Yale law students working under the supervision of experienced media lawyers to advise documentarians and independent filmmakers during the production phase of their projects. The project provides advice on libel, privacy, and other newsgathering issues.

The MFIA website provides more detail about the Clinic’s current caseload.

About the Fellowship

MFIA seeks candidates for this position with at least two years of relevant experience who are interested in pursuing a career in litigation or public advocacy on issues surrounding digital-age free expression and government transparency. Previous Fellows have gone on to work in-house at media companies and law firm media practices, at non-governmental organizations, or as law school clinical professors.

The Fellow will work closely with the Clinic’s team of litigators, which currently includes Clinic Director David Schulz, another full-time Fellow, and two visiting clinical lecturer, Sandra Baron and Jennifer Borg. The fellowship provides the opportunity to gain hands-on experience litigating cutting edge issues, to supervise and teach law students, to work on legal scholarship, and to participate in the intellectual life of the Yale ISP. The duties of the Fellow include:

  • assuming overall responsibility for selected cases on the MFIA docket and supervising Yale Law School students in the Clinic;
  • assisting the Clinic’s intake process and shaping its docket;
  • teaching several substantive and skill-based classes to students as part of the Clinic’s weekly seminar;
  • supervising summer law student interns at the Clinic and covering Clinic cases during semester breaks;
  • coordinating the Access and Accountability Conference hosted each fall by MFIA and the Abrams Institute;
  • engaging in the scholarly activities of the ISP, which include regular academic lunches, workshops, conferences, and talks.

Fellows must live in the New Haven area during their fellowship. The fellowship starts on July 1 and lasts for one year, renewable for a second year. The salary for the fellowship will be $75,000. Fellows also receive Yale health benefits and access to university facilities, as well as a travel budget for academic and clinic conferences.

Application Instructions

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and must be submitted no later than January 17, 2022. Applications should include:

  • A statement of no more than three (3) pages describing the applicant’s interest in the fellowship, relevant practice experience, and career goals;
  • A copy of the applicant’s resume;
  • A law school transcript; and
  • At least one sample of recent legal writing, preferably a brief or memorandum.

***Please indicate clearly in your application materials that you are applying for the MFIA Fellowship***

Application materials should be sent (in electronic form) to Heather Branch at heather.branch@yale.edu.

For further information, please feel free to contact MFIA Clinic Director David Schulz at david.schulz@yale.edu.

Yale University considers applicants for employment without regard to, and does not discriminate on the basis of, an individual’s sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance. Questions regarding Title IX may be referred to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, at TitleIX@yale.edu, or to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 8th Floor, Five Post Office Square, Boston MA 02109-3921. Telephone: 617.289.0111, Fax: 617.289.0150, TDD: 800.877.8339, or email: ocr.boston@ed.gov.

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