For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. With more than one million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, national origin, record of arrest or conviction.

The ACLU invites second- or third-year law students and recent law graduates to apply for a sponsorship opportunity to work with us as a Legal Fellow. The National Prison Project of the National office in Washington, D.C. seeks applicants to consider for a sponsored fellowship such as Skadden, Equal Justice Works, or other public interest fellowships to begin in the fall of 2020.

OVERVIEW

Founded in 1972 by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Prison Project (NPP) seeks to ensure constitutional conditions of confinement in prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, and immigration detention facilities. The Project seeks to promote prisoners’ rights through class action litigation and public education. Its priorities include reducing prison overcrowding, improving prisoner medical care, eliminating violence and maltreatment, and increasing oversight and accountability in prisons, jails, and other places of detention.

The Project also works to challenge the policies of over-incarceration that have led the United States to imprison more people than any other country in the world. This is an opportune moment to reform those policies. There is a growing consensus among criminal justice experts and policymakers that America’s criminal justice system has relied too heavily on incarceration as the first and often only response for violations of the law that could better be addressed through other means. The population in American prisons and jails has tripled in the past 25 years and now approaches two and a half million. Facilities are overcrowded; medical systems are overwhelmed; work, education, and treatment programs are inadequate; and prison violence has increased. This failed experiment does not make us safer, it is not affordable, and it exacerbates the racial disparities that have long plagued the criminal justice system.

The Project, with a staff of six lawyers, has fought and continues to fight unlawful prison conditions and practices through successful litigation on behalf of prisoners in more than two dozen states. Since 1991, the Project has represented prisoners in five cases before the United States Supreme Court. The ACLU is one of the only organizations litigating conditions of confinement nationwide on behalf of men, women, and children.

Our staff will work with candidates to develop their proposals for submission, helping tailor the proposal to address an important civil liberties issue. Proposed projects often combine litigation and advocacy with community outreach and public education.

The NPP is particularly interested in a project addressing conditions of confinement in immigration detention facilities.  This can involve litigation and public advocacy, working with affected populations, local and national stakeholders, ACLU affiliates, and our partners in the ACLU national legal department.  The NPP has been working in this field for a number of years, serving as class counsel in several federal civil rights lawsuits challenging conditions in family detention facilities, immigration detention centers and local jails holding immigration detainees.  NPP has a designated staff attorney working on immigration detention conditions, and the fellow would work closely with this attorney and other NPP staff. 

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Conduct legal research and analysis and develop theories to support new litigation projects.
  • Draft legal memoranda, pleadings, affidavits, motions, and briefs.
  • Interview witnesses and potential clients.
  • Participate in discovery and trial practice.
  • Draft and edit public education and non-litigation advocacy materials.
  • Provide support and assistance to ACLU affiliates and cooperating attorneys.
  • Help manage summer legal internship program and supervise student interns.
  • Engage in public speaking and attend meetings and/or conferences as needed.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity within the office using a personal approach that values all individuals and respects differences in regards to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance.
  • Commitment to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts.

EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS

  • J.D. or expected to receive a J.D by the spring of 2020.
  • Demonstrated commitment to public interest law, civil liberties, and criminal justice issues.
  • Willingness to work closely with the NPP through the funding application process.
  • Excellent research, writing, and verbal communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a proven ability to work independently as well as within a team.
  • Self-motivated with the ability to take initiative, manage a variety of tasks and see projects through to completion.
  • Commitment to the mission of the ACLU.

COMPENSATION

The ACLU offers a generous and comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU compensation scale, to supplement the external funding.

HOW TO APPLY

If you would like to be considered for a sponsorship opportunity, please submit: a letter of interest that includes a description of a project proposal (please indicate in your letter of interest whether you only seek sponsorship for your proposal or would be open to other ideas)

  • current resume
  • legal writing sample
  • names and telephone numbers of two references

Materials should be sent to hrjobsNPP@aclu.org, please reference “2019 Legal Fellowship Sponsorship – National Prison Project” in the subject line:

We will review applications on a rolling basis, but priority consideration will be given to those who submit applications by May 17, 2019. 

The ACLU is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please e-mail benefits@aclu.org.  If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

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