Blackstone Legal Fellowship

The Blackstone Legal Fellowship is an American legal training and internship program developed and facilitated by Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Since its inception in 2000, more than 1,900 law students have participated in the program. Its main campus is in Scottsdale, Arizona. Notable faculty have included U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Blackstone Legal Fellowship
MottoLearn. Lead. Defend.
TypeLegal internship
AffiliationAlliance Defending Freedom
DirectorJeffery J. Ventrella


Sir William Blackstone in 1774

Blackstone Legal Fellowship is a highly competitive, nine week intensive summer legal training program which spans June though August. It was founded in 2000 for the purpose of preparing Christian law students for professional legal careers. The first class comprised 24 interns.[3] Since its inception Blackstone has trained more than 1,900 Christian law students.[2] In an interview, ADF co-founder Alan Sears said in 2000 Blackstone was created in response to his observation, "There’s got to be a better way for law students in America and for young lawyers than we currently have."[4] The program is made up of interns, called Fellows, from a diverse selection of law schools as well as elite institutions such as Harvard and Yale.[3] The program is named for Sir William Blackstone, the famed eighteenth century English legal scholar and jurist whose influential commentaries on the common law had a profound impact on the Founding Fathers of the United States.[5]

In 2012, Sears was asked about the major achievements of ADF. He said "among the things I am most thankful for are our Blackstone Legal Fellowship graduates."[4]

In 2017, President Donald Trump's nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Amy Coney Barrett, was criticized by Senator Al Franken for teaching constitutional law at Blackstone. In her Senate committee hearing he referred to ADF as a "hate group". Barrett responded that the hate group label is "controversial". Barrett was confirmed to the court by the Senate.[6]

Program informationEdit

The Blackstone Fellowship consists of three phases described as Learn, Lead, and Defend. Fellows spend the first two weeks of the program in the classroom studying in areas such as ethics, theology and jurisprudence. Sessions consist of lectures as well as hands-on interactive presentations.[3][7]

The second phase of the program focuses on six-week field placements at a variety of venues across the United States and abroad including "public-interest law firms, attorneys, law professors, think tanks, and public-policy organizations." Placements are selected based on students' aptitude and career goals.[3][7]

Finally, the Fellows return to ADF in Scottsdale for a week long series of presentations focusing on career development and professional networking. Speakers include legal academics, members of the judiciary, elected representatives, and practicing attorneys. Interns are given an orientation to the Blackstone alumni network.[3]


Blackstone Fellows receive a scholarship of $6,300. In addition, stipends are available to cover expenses during the placement phase of the program.[1][3]


Stephanie Ann Gray

The following is a list of people who are currently or have been affiliated with Blackstone.

  • Amy Coney Barrett, taught constitutional law at Blackstone. Currently judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit[8][6]
  • J. Budziszewski, professor, member of Advisory Board of Blackstone[9]
  • Robert P. George, legal scholar, member of Blackstone Advisory Board[9]
  • Mary Ann Glendon, former U. S. Ambassador to the Holy See, current member of Blackstone Advisory Board[9]
  • Stephanie Gray, Canadian pro-life activist, faculty member at Blackstone[9]
  • Edwin Meese, former Attorney General of the United States, currently member of Blackstone Advisory Board[9]
  • Charles E. Rice, former legal scholar and member of Blackstone Advisory Board[9]
  • Andrew Sandlin, Christian minister and theologian, faculty member at Blackstone[9]


  1. ^ a b "Blackstone FAQ's". Alliance Defending Freedom. 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Blackstone Legal Fellowship". Alliance Defending Freedom. 2018. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Dexter, Duggan (February 16, 2014). "How tomorrow's legal activists start the journey with a trip to Arizona". Arizona Daily Independent. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  4. ^ a b McFeely, Tom (January 18, 2012). "Alliance Defense Fund's Chief Convert". National Catholic Register. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  5. ^ Bailyn, Bernard, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (2017 edition).
  6. ^ a b Gottry, James (November 10, 2018). "Religious freedom has won some key battles recently". Washington Examiner. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Grebing, Karen (ed.). "Blackstone Legal Fellowship Preparing AMSL Students to be Leaders of the Future". Ave Maria School of Law Advocate. Ave Maria School of Law (Fall 2013): 22–23. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  8. ^ McIntire, Ken (September 12, 2017). "Religious Freedom Advocates Rebuke Al Franken for 'Hate Group' Slur". The Daily Signal. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Blackstone Legal Fellowship". Alliance Defending Freedom. Retrieved February 2, 2018.

Further readingEdit

  • Budziszewski, J. (2006). Natural Law For Lawyers. ACW Press and The Blackstone Legal Fellowship. ISBN 978-1932124798.

External linksEdit