Mental Health Equity Fellowship

Mental Health Equity Fellowship: Call for Applicants

The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation (The Coehlo Center) at LMU Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, in partnership with Loyola’s Anti-Racism Center (LARC), seeks applicants for the Mental Health Equity Fellowship, a post-graduate public interest fellowship supported by Justice Catalyst with funding from Kebok Foundation. The Mental Health Equity Fellowship is a two-year term that begins Fall of 2022.  Applicants may be law students who expect to graduate in May 2022, law graduates up to two years out of law school, and/or law graduates serving judicial clerkships or other fellowship that is term-limited with a completion date by Fall of 2022. The selected candidate will work under the supervision of faculty and staff with The Coehlo Center and LARC. 

Background: While very few people with mental illness have any predilection to violence, ongoing public misperception of this population coupled with racial and other intersectional biases, increases the risk that those with “serious mental illnesses” or SMIs[1] will end up arrested, incarcerated, and homeless. Of those incarcerated, almost 20% have SMIs compared to less than 5% in the general population.  Moreover, once entangled in the criminal system, these individuals can be found “mentally incompetent” increasing their vulnerability to due process violations including prolonged periods of incarceration without access to the full spectrum of mental health treatment options including quality in-patient acute psychiatric care as well as outpatient and community-based services. 

The public healthcare system exacerbates the cycle of incarceration and homelessness experienced by those with SMIs. Government agencies that disperse funding across the healthcare system, concentrate resources on general physical and mental health treatment, rather than treatment of SMIs due to its “costliness.”  As a result, individuals with SMIs who rely on public healthcare, remain underserved.  People with SMIs experience de facto inequality—legal enforcement regimes overcriminalize them and the public healthcare system deprives them of equal access to specialized acute psychiatric and substance use disorder services available to their wealthier counterparts.

The Fellowship: The Mental Health Equity Fellowship, a collaboration of The Coehlo Center and LARC, will pursue policy and litigation strategies to rectify the systemic failures that relegate individuals with SMIs to jail and/or homelessness.  Applying a disability rights and anti-racist intersectional framework, the Fellow will work to ensure that individuals with SMIs gain access to a full spectrum of mental health treatment options from quality in-patient psychiatric care to outpatient and community-based services, regardless of socioeconomic and insurance status.  The Fellow will utilize evidence-based approaches that bring together community stakeholders including affected individuals, disability rights advocates, mental health experts from both the public and private sectors, and government officials.  Informed by community stakeholders, the Fellow will generate research and recommendations for policy advocacy and litigation interventions that reduce criminal system involvement and improve access to quality mental healthcare for those with SMIs.


  • Strategic planning in collaboration with faculty directors of The Coehlo Center and LARC on research methods, partnerships, and stakeholders, to develop evidence-based approaches to identify systemic gaps in services to those with SMIs and potential legal and policy responses.
  • Coordination of stakeholder convenings to inform research that generates analysis of systems affecting those with SMIs and law and policy recommendations.
  • Cultivation and sustaining of partnerships with affected individuals, disability rights advocates, mental health experts, public agencies, private acute psychiatric providers, community-based mental health services, government officials, and lawmakers.
  • Collection and reporting of data and research that yields law and policy recommendations including strategic litigation, legislative reforms, and agency redesign, to better serve those with SMIs.
  • Policy advocacy and litigation support to stakeholders and partners as needed.
  • Other duties related to the objectives of the Mental Health Equity Fellowship.


  • Recent graduate (0-2 years) from law school and/or serving in a term-limited position since graduation such as a judicial clerkship or other fellowship which will conclude by fall of 2022.  
  • Bar membership or willingness to sit for next state bar required.
  • Knowledge of and demonstrated interest in mental health advocacy and disability rights with a focus on serious mental illness.
  • Experience with and/or ties to low-income communities of color including the homeless and incarcerated populations.
  • Understanding of race-conscious, intersectional, and culturally humble approaches to social justice lawyering.
  • Experience with and/or understanding of the law, policy, and systems that affect those with serious mental illness.
  • Dedication to collaboration and cooperation with internal colleagues and supervisors and community stakeholders.
  • Excellent writing and research skills.

The annual salary is comparable to other post-graduate public interest fellowships and commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits.

To Apply: Please submit cover letter, a resume, three references, and a legal writing sample no longer than 10 pages to  Applications will be accepted on a rolling-basis through Friday, February 11, 2022, at 11:59pm PST.

As part of Loyola Marymount University, a Jesuit, Carnegie-classified R2 institution, LLS seeks outstanding applicants who share its commitment to inclusive excellence and the promotion of justice. We are an equal opportunity employer committed to providing an environment free from discrimination and harassment as defined by federal, state and local law. We welcome and invite all persons of diverse and intersectional identities, life experiences, and beliefs to apply.

[1] Acute psychiatric and/or behavioral conditions, including substance use disorders with psychotic symptoms that result in “functional impairment which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.”