Barbara A. Ringer Copyright Honors Program


Barbara Ringer, 8th Register

The Barbara A. Ringer Copyright Honors Program (“Ringer Honors Program”) offers 18- to 24-month paid fellowships for attorneys in the initial stages of their careers who demonstrate exceptional ability and interest in copyright law (“Ringer Fellows”). Ringer Fellows work closely with senior attorneys and others in the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), the Office of Policy and International Affairs (PIA), the Office of the Register (REG), and the Office of Registration Policy and Practice (RPP) on a range of copyright-related law and policy matters. In addition to performing an important public service, Ringer Fellows acquire unparalleled insight into the U.S. copyright system to draw upon in their future careers.

Barbara A. Ringer, for whom the fellowship is named, served as the eighth Register of Copyrights, from 1973 to 1980. She was instrumental in the review and drafting process that led to Congress's adoption of the 1976 Copyright Act.


The Ringer Honors Program is a distinguished public service opportunity for attorneys in the early stages of their careers who have a strong interest and demonstrated record of academic or practical success in copyright law. The Program accepts applications from individuals who are in their final year at a U.S.-accredited law school (receiving a JD or LLM) or who have practiced law for fewer than five years. In addition to promising law students, judicial law clerks and those practicing at a law firm or in another setting are encouraged to apply. Although bar membership is not required for the position, Ringer Fellows must have been awarded their JD by the time they begin the fellowship. Please note that under applicable law, paid positions at the Copyright Office are ordinarily limited to U.S. citizens. The Office expects to appoint one or two Ringer Fellows each year.

Ringer Fellows serve as full-time federal employees and are eligible for salary and benefits as permitted under federal law. They are appointed at a General Schedule (GS) level as an attorney-advisor, ranging from 11 to 14, depending upon their qualifications and experience. A Ringer Fellow who is admitted to a state bar during the period of his or her appointment may be eligible for promotion to a higher GS level, contingent upon his or her performance, the Office's staffing needs, and funding considerations.

The Office generally accepts applications for the Ringer Honors Program from June 1 through September 30. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Office is extending the application deadline until January 31, 2021. The anticipated time frame in which the selected applicant would begin his or her fellowship would be September 2021. An earlier start date may be possible at the discretion of the Office.

To apply, a candidate should email the following materials, combined into a single document file (preferably in a PDF format) labeled with the applicant's name and intended start date (for example, "Jane Smith Fall 2021") to [email protected]:

  • a statement of the candidate's interest in and qualifications for the Ringer Honors Program
  • resume
  • most recent law school transcript
  • a writing sample that is reflective of the candidate's own writing (i.e., that has not been substantially edited by others)
  • contact information (name, title, organization, street address, email address, and phone number) for three academic or professional references with an indication of whether the Copyright Office may contact them without first obtaining clearance from you

Applications must be complete and sent to the correct email address. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The Office typically will contact those candidates found most qualified to move forward in the selection process within three to four months of their application date to schedule an initial interview at the Copyright Office in Washington, DC, at a mutually convenient time. Please note that the Office is unable to reimburse candidates' travel expenses in connection with interviews. If travel costs are a concern, the Office may offer an alternative arrangement, such as an interview in the candidate's area if a Copyright Office attorney happens to be traveling there. Otherwise, the Office will conduct the interview by telephone.

In selecting individuals for the Ringer Honors Program, the Office considers a candidate’s application materials, as well as their academic performance, work experience, writing skills, performance during the interview process, references, and interest and expertise in copyright law and policy.

Depending upon the applicant pool and scheduling of interviews, the Office may notify the candidate(s) chosen to serve as a Ringer Fellow of their selection at any time following their interview through the end of March.

Read about 2020-2022 Ringer Fellow

Read about 2019-2021 Ringer Fellow

Read about 2017-2019 Ringer Fellows

Read about 2016-2018 Ringer Fellows

Read about 2015-2017 Ringer Fellows

Read about 2014-2016 Ringer Fellows

Additional Information