New York State Excelsior Fellowship

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New York State Excelsior Fellowship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 26, 2017 11:55 am

Hey all,

Does anyone have information on the New York State Excelsior Fellowship? I am trying to find out as much info on the Fellowship as possible regarding agencies that participate in Excelsior, what the program is like, exit options (is it worth doing?), and any other relevant info.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327380
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: New York State Excelsior Fellowship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:14 pm

i'm in my 2nd year of the fellowship.

participating agencies change every year based on need but there's a lot of repeat participants. i have no idea why the fellowship can't hand out a list of participating agencies every year, but a good way to get a fuller picture is to go on linkedin and search for fellows, and see what agencies people were at.

as to "what the program is like," well there's really two sides to the fellowship - your work and the professional development sessions. your work will depend entirely on your agency and where you're placed in that agency, but at the end of the day you should be treated like any other employee at your agency. the development sessions are pretty much a gigantic waste of time, but it's a way to get out of work for a day and you're bound to click with a few people in your fellowship cohort, so i'd say spending some time with good people is always a plus.

exit options will again depend entirely on your agency. some people stay at their agency in full time positions, others go to federal, state, or city agencies (the State AGs office has taken a few fellows), others go to private sector in a number of capacities.

feel free to ask questions

Anonymous User
Posts: 327380
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: New York State Excelsior Fellowship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:i'm in my 2nd year of the fellowship.

participating agencies change every year based on need but there's a lot of repeat participants. i have no idea why the fellowship can't hand out a list of participating agencies every year, but a good way to get a fuller picture is to go on linkedin and search for fellows, and see what agencies people were at.

as to "what the program is like," well there's really two sides to the fellowship - your work and the professional development sessions. your work will depend entirely on your agency and where you're placed in that agency, but at the end of the day you should be treated like any other employee at your agency. the development sessions are pretty much a gigantic waste of time, but it's a way to get out of work for a day and you're bound to click with a few people in your fellowship cohort, so i'd say spending some time with good people is always a plus.

exit options will again depend entirely on your agency. some people stay at their agency in full time positions, others go to federal, state, or city agencies (the State AGs office has taken a few fellows), others go to private sector in a number of capacities.

feel free to ask questions


Thanks for the response! I accepted the offer and I wanted to know what I was getting myself into.

1. You mentioned that the professional development sessions are a waste of time - what do you mean? What are those sessions about? What is supposed to be the purpose?

2. They mentioned that you get assigned two mentors, one in the agency and another senior level - do you have an ongoing relationship with your mentors? Is that useful/helpful?

3. When did you find out what agency you are placed with? Did you have enough time to find housing in Albany? (assuming you are in Albany and not NYC)

4. I know the pay for the two years is 55k, if you stay with the agency after the fellowship is over, does your pay increase?

5. Are there opportunities to go to court or trial? I know this will depend on the agency - have you heard about people able to get trial experience?

6. Are you happy you chose Excelsior?

Thanks a lot for answering questions!

Anonymous User
Posts: 327380
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: New York State Excelsior Fellowship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:i'm in my 2nd year of the fellowship.

participating agencies change every year based on need but there's a lot of repeat participants. i have no idea why the fellowship can't hand out a list of participating agencies every year, but a good way to get a fuller picture is to go on linkedin and search for fellows, and see what agencies people were at.

as to "what the program is like," well there's really two sides to the fellowship - your work and the professional development sessions. your work will depend entirely on your agency and where you're placed in that agency, but at the end of the day you should be treated like any other employee at your agency. the development sessions are pretty much a gigantic waste of time, but it's a way to get out of work for a day and you're bound to click with a few people in your fellowship cohort, so i'd say spending some time with good people is always a plus.

exit options will again depend entirely on your agency. some people stay at their agency in full time positions, others go to federal, state, or city agencies (the State AGs office has taken a few fellows), others go to private sector in a number of capacities.

feel free to ask questions


Thanks for the response! I accepted the offer and I wanted to know what I was getting myself into.

well congrats! I'll answer these in bold

1. You mentioned that the professional development sessions are a waste of time - what do you mean? What are those sessions about? What is supposed to be the purpose?

I'll taper this a bit and say it's mostly a waste of time. the sessions have changed over the course of my two years. the first few, we had higher-ups within the state come and talk to us about their work. it was cool, but definitely took away from time in the office which can be frustrating if things are busy. there was one guy who came in last year to do a CLE on FOIL, which is great, but it turned out his credentials had lapsed and he couldn't technically teach a CLE class, so we didn't get credit. very annoying. now we have some consulting firm telling us "how to be leaders" once a month. seems like a waste of money. we also had one late last year that was all about post-fellowship life i.e. how to stay at your agency and what to do if you want to start looking elsewhere.

2. They mentioned that you get assigned two mentors, one in the agency and another senior level - do you have an ongoing relationship with your mentors? Is that useful/helpful?

i know the mentorship thing is something the fellowship is trying to build out, and they're doing a decent job of refining it. as of right now i do not have a dedicated agency mentor, but i have fantastic relationships with a lot of people at my agency which is very useful.

3. When did you find out what agency you are placed with? Did you have enough time to find housing in Albany? (assuming you are in Albany and not NYC)

you'll find out your agency sometime in June, typically mid to late June (unless they've made the placement process more efficient). my 2 cents on this: once your semester ends your one and only concern should be the bar exam. you'll get your placement while studying, but you'll have a full month after the bar before your placement starts - worry about housing then.

4. I know the pay for the two years is 55k, if you stay with the agency after the fellowship is over, does your pay increase?

it can, yes. there are two ways to stay with your agency - either an appointment from your agency's head, or civil service. something like 1% of NY state employees get appointments, so you'd likely have to do civil service. if you do the civil service legal specialties exam, you'd come in as a "Senior Attorney" and the pay is around $76,000. keep in mind, staying at your agency through civil service is not guaranteed.

5. Are there opportunities to go to court or trial? I know this will depend on the agency - have you heard about people able to get trial experience?

you're right that it will depend on the agency, but yes, a few of my friends are getting substantial trial experience and others are getting experience in agency hearings.

6. Are you happy you chose Excelsior?

at the end of the day, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. the best piece of advice i can give is to find every possible avenue of finding work in your agency and make as many great relationships there as you can. from what i can see, the people who are most unhappy as an excelsior fellow are those who have little work, or more specifically, little actual legal work, to do at their agency. sometimes the draw is just bad luck, but i've seen (in my own experience and that of others) that if you prove yourself capable and open to doing new things, work will absolutely come your way, and your status within your agency will grow. that, in my opinion, is how to make the most out of this program.

Thanks a lot for answering questions!

Anonymous User
Posts: 327380
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: New York State Excelsior Fellowship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:i'm in my 2nd year of the fellowship.

participating agencies change every year based on need but there's a lot of repeat participants. i have no idea why the fellowship can't hand out a list of participating agencies every year, but a good way to get a fuller picture is to go on linkedin and search for fellows, and see what agencies people were at.

as to "what the program is like," well there's really two sides to the fellowship - your work and the professional development sessions. your work will depend entirely on your agency and where you're placed in that agency, but at the end of the day you should be treated like any other employee at your agency. the development sessions are pretty much a gigantic waste of time, but it's a way to get out of work for a day and you're bound to click with a few people in your fellowship cohort, so i'd say spending some time with good people is always a plus.

exit options will again depend entirely on your agency. some people stay at their agency in full time positions, others go to federal, state, or city agencies (the State AGs office has taken a few fellows), others go to private sector in a number of capacities.

feel free to ask questions


Thanks for the response! I accepted the offer and I wanted to know what I was getting myself into.

well congrats! I'll answer these in bold

1. You mentioned that the professional development sessions are a waste of time - what do you mean? What are those sessions about? What is supposed to be the purpose?

I'll taper this a bit and say it's mostly a waste of time. the sessions have changed over the course of my two years. the first few, we had higher-ups within the state come and talk to us about their work. it was cool, but definitely took away from time in the office which can be frustrating if things are busy. there was one guy who came in last year to do a CLE on FOIL, which is great, but it turned out his credentials had lapsed and he couldn't technically teach a CLE class, so we didn't get credit. very annoying. now we have some consulting firm telling us "how to be leaders" once a month. seems like a waste of money. we also had one late last year that was all about post-fellowship life i.e. how to stay at your agency and what to do if you want to start looking elsewhere.

2. They mentioned that you get assigned two mentors, one in the agency and another senior level - do you have an ongoing relationship with your mentors? Is that useful/helpful?

i know the mentorship thing is something the fellowship is trying to build out, and they're doing a decent job of refining it. as of right now i do not have a dedicated agency mentor, but i have fantastic relationships with a lot of people at my agency which is very useful.

3. When did you find out what agency you are placed with? Did you have enough time to find housing in Albany? (assuming you are in Albany and not NYC)

you'll find out your agency sometime in June, typically mid to late June (unless they've made the placement process more efficient). my 2 cents on this: once your semester ends your one and only concern should be the bar exam. you'll get your placement while studying, but you'll have a full month after the bar before your placement starts - worry about housing then.

4. I know the pay for the two years is 55k, if you stay with the agency after the fellowship is over, does your pay increase?

it can, yes. there are two ways to stay with your agency - either an appointment from your agency's head, or civil service. something like 1% of NY state employees get appointments, so you'd likely have to do civil service. if you do the civil service legal specialties exam, you'd come in as a "Senior Attorney" and the pay is around $76,000. keep in mind, staying at your agency through civil service is not guaranteed.

5. Are there opportunities to go to court or trial? I know this will depend on the agency - have you heard about people able to get trial experience?

you're right that it will depend on the agency, but yes, a few of my friends are getting substantial trial experience and others are getting experience in agency hearings.

6. Are you happy you chose Excelsior?

at the end of the day, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. the best piece of advice i can give is to find every possible avenue of finding work in your agency and make as many great relationships there as you can. from what i can see, the people who are most unhappy as an excelsior fellow are those who have little work, or more specifically, little actual legal work, to do at their agency. sometimes the draw is just bad luck, but i've seen (in my own experience and that of others) that if you prove yourself capable and open to doing new things, work will absolutely come your way, and your status within your agency will grow. that, in my opinion, is how to make the most out of this program.

Thanks a lot for answering questions!


Thank you so much! Appreciate the insight into the program. I was between this and a DA's Office and I thought this would be a better opportunity long-term for me. It seems like, depending on the agency, it will be.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327380
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: New York State Excelsior Fellowship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:00 am

Bumping this. It's just about the only Excelsior Fellowship information I can find.

If your goal is work for the NY AG's office after the fellowship, can anyone speak to what the best placements are?

Also, which placements are in Albany/upstate and which are in NYC? I'm really hoping to save on COL.

Thank you!

Anonymous User
Posts: 327380
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: New York State Excelsior Fellowship

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 28, 2018 10:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:Bumping this. It's just about the only Excelsior Fellowship information I can find.

If your goal is work for the NY AG's office after the fellowship, can anyone speak to what the best placements are?

Also, which placements are in Albany/upstate and which are in NYC? I'm really hoping to save on COL.

Thank you!


Former fellow here. There are a small handful of agencies that will actually allow you to do some trial work - those will be the best placements if you're looking to go to the AGs afterwards. I think some of the housing/tenant agencies even had fellows working directly with the AGs office. Aside from those agencies though, I think the best placement for targeting the AGs would be in an agency's General Counsel office, at any agency.

Most placements are in Albany, something like 75-90% of placements. If you express an interest in going to Albany they'll almost certainly honor it as most people prefer NYC.

Anonymous User
Posts: 327380
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: New York State Excelsior Fellowship

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:02 pm

10 weeks in to my fellowship. I like my placement itself quite a bit, but the rest of the fellowship stuff is really tedious.

- The Professional Development things are a nightmare if you're coming from NYC. I left home at 5am and got back just before 11pm. And it's on a Thursday, so I had to work the following day. It's a minimum 14-hour day with the Amtrak commute alone. If you have an additional commute on top of that, it gets ridiculous. The session itself was also a complete waste of time. It was basically just speakers gloating about how amazing and effective our state government is. Uhhhhhhhh, no.

- I've met some good people in my cohort, but on the whole it's pretty much what people warned me to expect at law school. It's already gotten extremely cliquey. It feels like most people just want to network, and if you're not aggressively playing that game, they don't want anything to do with you.

Overall: It's good, and I'm glad I took it, but the non-work stuff sucks.



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