Selection Process

Each year, students at three prestigious law schools are eligible to apply for the Tony Patiño Fellowship:

  • UC College of the Law San Francisco
  • University of Chicago Law School
  • Columbia Law School

Applications, instructions and deadlines are found on the websites of each law school.

From a pool of approximately 1,000 students, the Fellowship receives about 150 applications.

Each application is read, reviewed and discussed by the Fellowship’s Screening Committee, which narrows the applicant pool to approximately 15 finalists. The Selection Committee then interviews these finalists during Selection Day at their respective law schools.

Up to three Fellows-Elect are chosen each year at each law school.

Fellows-Elect are awarded the Fellowship for a one-year term, renewable annually at the discretion of the Fellowship’s Renewal Committee, which considers each Fellow-Elect’s continued academic and personal achievement. Upon graduation, Fellows-Elect, who have successfully renewed for their second and third years of law school, graduate as Tony Patiño Fellows. The title and the beautiful cast statuette are bestowed upon the Fellows during the annual Selection Day banquet and ceremonies at their law schools.

The Selection Committee has included a number of distinguished jurists, leading legal scholars and longtime supporters of the Fellowship, such as: the late United States Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, the Fellowship’s first National Chairman; the late Professor Jerome Hall, the Fellowship’s first Hastings Chairman; the late Honorable Raymond L. Sullivan of the Supreme Court of the State of California; and James McGarry, the Fellowship’s first counsel and longest serving board member.

More recently, Selection Committee members have included the Honorable Judge Sergio A. Gutierrez, Idaho Court of Appeals; the Honorable Diane P. Wood, United States Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; the Honorable Carol A. Corrigan, Associate Justice, California Supreme Court; the Honorable Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, United States District Judge, Northern District of Illinois; and the Honorable Kenneth M. Karas, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York.

Many Fellows look back on the Selection Day interview with a mix of pride, awe and agony. For most it was their first exposure to the rigorous and oftentimes humbling Socratic method of questioning – administered by some extraordinary legal practitioners.