Maryland Law and Policy Fellowship

Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) and the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) are excited to invite applications for a one-year legal fellowship. Please come join our dynamic team of legal experts and scientists to work at the exciting interface of law, policy, and environmental research.

MDSG supports research, education, extension, and outreach on critical environmental issues in the Chesapeake and coastal bays and their watersheds. ALEI is comprised of legal specialists and other extension specialists who help agricultural producers understand and comply with state, federal, and local laws and regulations.

The Maryland Sea Grant legal fellow will help work toward these goals through projects involving training and programming for government agencies, coastal industries, and coastal communities addressing coastal law and policy in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay.

Fellowship Experience

The primary effort of the fellow is to provide legal research, writing, and educational assistance to ALEI and MDSG. We invite applicants who have a curiosity about coastal environmental issues and legal education around those issues. The work is not advocacy. Fellows conduct legal scholarship and provide education for government agencies, coastal industries, and coastal communities addressing coastal law and policy in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay with an emphasis on reaching underserved populations. Project topics are likely to cover legal questions in environmental areas such as aquaculture, sea level rise impact and resilience, and stormwater management in Maryland.

This is an excellent opportunity to gain experience with a variety of legal, policy, and regulatory matters concerning aquaculture, environmental compliance, and land use policy, including the impacts of sea level rise on coastal communities and governmental responses to the changing landscape. The fellowship serves to increase the capacity of local, state, and federal government agencies as well as non-governmental partners and coastal industries in Maryland, and to promote integration of a range of perspectives into problem-solving for Maryland to provide more inclusive solutions and facilitate training around and development of coastal laws and policies.

Delivering presentations to stakeholder groups, including commercial, public, and private property owners and regulatory officials, will be required. Professional development activities include networking with different environmental legal groups, presentations, and travel to learn about other marine-focused legal education work in the region. The legal fellow will also investigate funding sources for structuring a long-standing legal resource within MDSG.

If you are excited to gain professional development experience working with multiple audiences, build out your network, and sharpen your legal research and problem solving skills, we encourage you to apply for this position. The legal fellow will be hired by MDSG and work under the direction of ALEI Environmental and Agricultural Faculty Legal Specialist Nicole Cook. ALEI will provide legal expertise, while MDSG provides connections to coastal scientists and communities.

The legal fellow will be located at the beautiful University of Maryland’s Wye Research Center in Queenstown, Maryland. However, if that is not possible due to COVID-19-related restrictions and/or protocols, the fellow will work remotely.


Fellows will be contractual employees of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science-MDSG. This position is full-time with benefits, Contractual Contingent 2, with an expected salary of $54,000 plus fringe benefits including healthcare options.


  • Applicants must have earned a J.D. or equivalent LL.M. for foreign-trained attorneys
  • Enthusiasm for pursuing a career in the areas of natural resource management, protection, or stewardship, or public or policy or law of marine and/or coastal environments
  • Excellent research, writing, and oral communication skills
  • Ability to work independently

Maryland Sea Grant and the National Sea Grant College Program champion diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by recruiting, retaining and preparing a diverse workforce and proactively engaging and serving the diverse populations of coastal communities. Sea Grant is committed to building inclusive research, extension, communications and education programs that serve people with unique backgrounds, circumstances, needs, perspectives and ways of thinking. We encourage applicants of all ages, races, ethnicities, national origins, gender identities, sexual orientations, disabilities, cultures, religions, citizenship types, marital status, job classifications, veteran status, and income, and socioeconomic status types to apply for this opportunity.


Applications due: July 6, 2021

Selection: August 2021

Fellowship period: One year from hire date (expected September 1, 2021)

How to Apply

Step 1: Contact MDSG well before the application due date to address questions.

Step 2: Register for an account to prepare your application on MDSG’s eSeaGrant application portal, Click “Add Fellowship Application” to navigate the system and create your fellowship application.

Step 3: You must complete your application using the eSeaGrant proposal portal. Complete the "Applicant Information" and "Demographic Information" tabs. Then upload a single PDF with the following application components in the "Application Package Upload" tab. The required documents are:

  • Resume (not to exceed 2 pages)
  • Cover letter (not to exceed 1 page)
  • Statement of personal, educational and career goals (not to exceed 1,000 words). The statement should emphasize the applicant’s abilities and the applicant’s expectation of the fellowship experiences in terms of career development. The statement should be clear on what intrigued the applicant to apply for this position, discuss experiences of translating difficult legal concepts to non-legal audiences and convey how the student’s experiences within and beyond academia (e.g., critical thinking skills, writing experiences, talking and working with people from different backgrounds and experiences, intuition, cultural experiences) may have prepared the applicant for this position. Strong writing and oral communication skills are important, and we encourage applicants to speak to these skills and/or highlight them in the Resume.
  • Clear copies of all undergraduate and graduate student transcripts (unofficial are acceptable).

Step 4: Submit a list of three references and their contact information in the Reference Request tab on eSeaGrant.

Step 5: Submit your application by July 6, 2021. Applications will not be considered until all components are received.

Selection Process

We seek to identify a fellow who most closely aligns with MDSG and ALEI’s mission to support research, education, and outreach to advance understanding and sustainability of aquaculture and Maryland’s Chesapeake and coastal bays and watersheds. The fellow is expected to bring strong legal knowledge and an interest in legal education to the science-driven activities of MDSG and ALEI.

All applications that meet the application requirements will be evaluated by a panel. The weighted importance of the different components of the application are listed below under “Application evaluation criteria.” The panel will consider the applicant’s interest in a legal career tied to the broad field of the environment and consistent with the mission of MDSG, further the panel will consider the applicant’s experience in policy, public education, legal and grant writing, relevant non-academic experiences and a demonstrated ability to work with a diverse range of people. We look for an applicant whose values align with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goals. Qualified applicants will be selected to interview with the panel. Guidance on the interview process will be provided to applicants who advance to this second round of selection. Based on the application and the interview process, a final fellow will be selected.

Application evaluation criteria:

  • Quality of the career goals statement
  • Cover letter
  • Academic record
  • Resume

Current and Past Fellows

Elissa Torres-Soto headshotElissa Torres-Soto

Elissa Torres Soto is a recent Environmental and Energy Law LL.M. graduate from Georgetown University Law Center. With the supervision of Nicole Cook from the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), she is currently working on a legal journal article about the standing requirements to present a protest to a new commercial shellfish aquaculture lease in the State of Maryland. She is also working on a fact sheet about how to transfer a commercial shellfish aquaculture lease in Maryland. Another of Elissa’s projects includes developing a guide for navigating the state and federal permitting processes for nature-based projects on the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area.

A native from Puerto Rico, Elissa enjoys going to the beach, hiking, and being around nature. She obtained her Juris Doctor degree in 2018 and was admitted to the practice of law in Puerto Rico in 2019. Her career goals are to aid in the strengthening of public policy and administrative processes focused on environmental justice, climate resiliency, and clean water for all.


Jenna Clark, Research Programs Manager
Maryland Sea Grant College
(301) 405-7500

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