The core of the Program is the students, all of whom are designated Hays Fellows at the Law School. Fellows also assume one of the endowed fellowships in the Program. Currently, all Fellows are third-year NYU law students, but from 1958 to 1972, one or two graduate law students received Hays Fellowships each year and in 1996–1997 an Australian graduate student who was enrolled in the Hauser Global Scholars Program at the Law School was appointed a Hays Fellow.
Each Fellow assumes substantial responsibility for work on one or more projects, under the supervision of one of the practicing lawyers cooperating with the Program. Fellows have worked with attorneys at the ACLU, NYCLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, NOW Legal Defense Fund, Lambda Legal Defense Fund, Children’s Rights, Inc., the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the Center for Reproductive Rights, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Compassion and Choices, the Legal Aid Society, as well as public defender offices, legal services organizations, and civil liberties-oriented law firms.
Since 1991, each semester the Program has invited a former Fellow to meet with the current Hays Fellows in an informal setting to discuss their backgrounds, aspirations, successes and disappointments in civil liberties work, and recollections of their year as a fellow. These events have proved enormously popular with each class of Fellows, who acquire a sense of civil liberties from an established lawyer who had similar experiences as a student and shares their general outlook.
Since 2006, the Program has invited distinguished public interest lawyers to meet with the current Hays Fellows in an informal setting to discuss civil liberties issues and the work of non-profit law organizations.
Following their apprenticeship in the Hays Program a large majority of Fellows have continued to work in the public interest field as private lawyers, doing pro bono work, as civil liberties lawyers, in legal services organizations, in government civil rights offices, and as law professors.
Many former Fellows have been directors or legal directors of public interest organizations, including several ACLU affiliates, the Legal Aid Society, legal services offices, and National Defender organizations.
The names of all public interest organizations at which former Hays Fellows have worked are too numerous to list. Among the groups are:
Other Fellows have become law teachers, often combining civil liberties activism with academic careers. Fellows are teaching or have taught at Cambridge, Fairfield, John Jay, and Miami Universities, and at these law schools in addition to NYU: Albany, Brooklyn, Cardozo, Cornell, Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, Kentucky, Loyola (Los Angeles), Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Roger Williams, Rutgers-Newark, Seton Hall, St. Mary’s (San Antonio), Syracuse, and Yale.