Location: We expect our Summer 2022 internships will proceed in-person at our offices in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Fresno. In your application materials please include your preference and willingness to be based in each of these locations.  
Deadline: Open until filled.

The ACLU of Northern California’s Legal-Policy Department invites law and policy graduate students to apply for its Criminal Justice Program Internships.  Students willing to work with intensity and focus will find an internship at ACLU NorCal a rewarding learning experience.  Qualified applicants are enthusiastic, creative, and detail-oriented; have strong research, writing, and oral communication skills; and can articulate a commitment to work for social justice and the ideals of the ACLU. 

About the Legal-Policy Department

The Legal-Policy Department pursues cutting edge impact litigation and promotes policy change in order to defend and expand the civil liberties and civil rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The Department’s work focuses on six broad program areas:  Criminal Justice; Democracy & Civic Engagement; Gender, Sexuality & Reproductive Justice; Immigrants’ Rights; Racial & Economic Justice; and Technology & Civil Liberties.  The Department’s staff is based in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Fresno, although staff is currently carrying out our work remotely due to Covid-19.  Department staff work closely with other departments within ACLU NorCal, including Organizing, Communications, Development, Finance & Administration, as well as with ACLU California Action.

Criminal Justice Internship

Criminal Justice Program Interns will participate in one of three main project areas: Prosecutorial Accountability; Police Accountability; or Decarceration.  The Prosecutorial Accountability project aims to increase engagement in prosecutorial elections, increase accountability and prevent error, and draw attention to the immense power and discretion exercised by prosecutors. The Police Accountability project aims to reduce criminalization, police power and abuse of power, implementation of police reform at the state and local level, and effective oversight on police power. The Decarceration project aims to reduce incarceration and includes bail reform work and indigent defense advocacy.  Interns will be tasked with legal and policy research and analysis; helping to author reports, advocacy materials, portions of court documents, and pre-litigation demand letters; and/or assisting with legislative or other local campaigns. Interns may attend and participate in public hearings at the state and county level and participate in meetings with criminal justice policy-makers and advocates as such opportunities arise.  When possible, interns may also attend appellate arguments, trial proceedings, and depositions.  Interns are encouraged to attend and participate in monthly program meetings, where prospective litigation and policy strategies are discussed. 

At times, work may arise that gives interns the opportunity to work across the Department’s six program areas, including in the areas of Racial & Economic Justice and Gender, Sexuality & Reproductive Justice. 

Applicants for the Criminal Justice Program Internship must currently be enrolled in law school or a graduate program in criminal justice, public policy, or a related field, and applicants must demonstrate a passion for criminal justice and a commitment to work for social justice and the ideals of the ACLU. 

The Legal-Policy Department accepts 1-2 Criminal Justice interns per term. 

Application Process

Summer internships are full-time for 10 – 12 weeks and usually begin the day after Memorial Day. “Split” summers may be considered where the intern is available for a minimum of 10 weeks. Part-time internships are not available during the summer.

For summer internship funding, students should seek available funding through their schools. For students coming from schools that do not offer summer funding or who do not obtain adequate school funding, ACLU NorCal will consider providing funding to students, as available.

Application deadlines

Applicants are encouraged to apply early in the hiring cycle. 

  • Spring term: Applications will be accepted beginning on or around September 24 for the following spring term.
  • Summer term: Applications will be accepted beginning on or around October 5 for the following summer term. ACLU NorCal staff will not begin to review applications from first year law students until December 2, 2021.
  • Fall term: Applications will be accepted beginning on or around March 15 for the following Fall term.

How to apply

Applications from all interested law and graduate students are welcome. (Please note that ACLU NorCal does not consider applications from undergraduate students.)  Applications must include the following in PDF format:  (1) Cover Letter that includes (a) a brief statement about why you want to work on the particular Program Team you’ve applied for, (b) your preference and willingness to be based in each of our three office locations (San Francisco, Sacramento, and Fresno), and (c) how you encountered the internship opening; (2) Resume; (3) Writing Sample; and, (4) List of References with contact information. 

The ACLU of Northern California advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to support a work environment free from discrimination on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (over 40), sexual orientation, military and veteran status, and any other basis prohibited by law. The organization also provides reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. This equal employment opportunity policy applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, selection, advancement, training, problem resolution, and separation from employment. Through this policy, the ACLU NorCal strives to establish and maintain an equitable and accessible work environment that is free from discrimination and supportive of a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of our communities and the people we serve.  ACLU NorCal will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).

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