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Open Door Fellowship

The North Carolina Bar Association and North Carolina Bar Foundation are committed to recognizing, respecting, promoting and encouraging diversity in the legal community. As part of their ongoing commitment to address inequities in access to legal services and participation in the legal profession experienced by historically excluded or disadvantaged individuals and communities in North Carolina, these two organizations are proud to support the NCBF Open Door Fellowship. As the legal profession in North Carolina grows and its members become increasingly diverse, this flagship program signals a collective commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and a desire to welcome all who want to serve the people of North Carolina through the legal profession.

The NCBF Open Door Fellowship is a unique, competitive opportunity for first-year North Carolina law students. Open Door Fellows gain valuable, hands-on legal experience while widening their professional networks to “open doors” and prepare them for the next steps in their legal careers.

We seek applications from first-year law students who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion through their activities, background and life experiences, as well as first-year law students who are members of groups that have been historically underrepresented in the legal profession, including first-generation college students and those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Applicants must be interested in practicing law in North Carolina, be enrolled full-time at an ABA-accredited North Carolina law school, and have a demonstrated commitment to the NCBF’s mission and values.

Fellowship Highlights

  • Participation in a 10-week experience with an employer host that is arranged by the NCBA + NCBF.
  • Participation in a professional development programming series coordinated by the NCBA + NCBF, including opportunities hosted by the NCBA Minorities in the Profession, Women in the Profession and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committees, as well as the NCBA Young Lawyers Division.
  • Payment of $10,000 over 10 weeks.
  • Be a guest of the NCBA at its June Annual Meeting and be recognized as an NCBF Open Door Fellow.

Meet the 2024 Fellows | April Franklin + Darius Alexander

Meet the 2023 Fellows | Tavaria Smith + Zi Zhou 

Application Requirements

The 2025 Open Door Fellowship application is expected to open December 1, 2025.

  • Application (link will open 12/1/25), including four short essay questions
    1. Describe what “open doors” means for you and for the legal profession (500 words or less)
    2. Describe any obstacles that you have had to overcome in order to get to this point in your life and career (500 words or less)
    3. Describe why this opportunity would be particularly impactful for you (500 words or less)
    4. Describe your short and longer-term career goals and aspirations, and ways that you anticipate contributing to the North Carolina community of legal professionals as an attorney (500 words or less)
  • Resume
  • Undergraduate transcript (unofficial is acceptable)

Questions? [email protected]