The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia (ACLU-DC) seeks first-year law students for full-summer internships in the summer of 2021. (Our posting for second-year law student internships was released in September and has since closed.)

The ACLU-DC is an affiliate office of the American Civil Liberties Union, a national nonprofit organization devoted to the protection of civil liberties and civil rights through litigation, legislation, and public education. The ACLU-DC works primarily on issues that directly impact people who live in, work in, and visit the District of Columbia, and also on challenges to certain federal government policies and practices where they fall within the jurisdiction of the D.C. federal courts.

Among the matters currently on our docket are: representing Black Lives Matter-DC and individual activists in challenging the attack by federal and local law enforcement on civil rights demonstrators in Lafayette Square on June 1; two lawsuits against the District of Columbia over inadequate protections for prisoner health at the D.C. Jail and a psychitatric hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic; a challenge to the D.C. Department of Public Works’ failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee who uses medical marijuana off duty to treat a disabling medical condition; and defending on appeal an injunction we won against new rules implemented by the administrative arm of the federal judiciary that would prohibit more than 1,000 federal employees from expressing their views publicly about partisan candidates for office. To learn more about our work, visit


Legal interns will be exposed to and participate in the process of developing and litigating impact cases to advance civil rights and liberties. The legal intern’s primary duties will be conducting legal research for current and potential cases (and some legal work in support of our policy advocacy before the D.C. Council), and drafting memoranda, pleadings, motions, and/or discovery requests. Legal interns will also likely be asked to interview potential clients and help investigate the facts of potential cases.

Depending on the state of our docket in summer 2021, interns are likely to have additional opportunities to become immersed in the work of the ACLU-DC’s Legal department, including legal strategy sessions, court proceedings, depositions, and client meetings. ACLU-DC staff believe strongly in mentorship and in thorough and timely feedback on all work product. Through this internship, interns should expect to further develop skills integral to effective lawyering including, but not limited to legal writing and research skills, client interviewing, and critical thinking.

Financial stipends may be available for candidates not receiving summer funding from their law schools.


In assessing applicants, the qualifications below will be evaluated with the understanding that 1L candidates are still in the process of developing their skill sets as legal advocates.

  • You are currently a first-year law student.
  • You have excellent work ethic, including dependability, diligence, the ability to take ownership over projects, and the commitment to see projects through to completion in a fast-paced, collaborative environment.
  • You are receptive to feedback, enthusiastic about learning and self-improvement, and eager to incorporate feedback into future work.
  • You have an excellent foundation in legal research, including the judgment to discern what cases are relevant to a particular research question, and thoroughness in covering the question asked.
  • You have (or are on your way to developing) the capacity to engage in thoughtful and perceptive legal analysis, including the ability to build a logical and persuasive argument, to read and understand legal decisions and statutes, and to grasp whether and how legal authorities apply to a new set of facts.
  • You have (or are on your way to developing) excellent legal writing skills, including the ability to present ideas in a clear and organized manner and to write a memo that teaches the reader what you have learned through research (whether the meaning of a specific case or the state of a body of law in general).
  • You have the empathy and interpersonal skills necessary to connect with, listen to, learn from, and ask questions of clients and other community members.


The deadline for applying is 11:59pm Eastern time on Tuesday, December 1, 2020. To apply, complete the application available online at". If you have a disability/ies and need a reasonable accommodation regarding any part of the application process, please email To complete the application, you will need to upload:

  1. A copy of your resume that lists relevant experience.
  2. A statement of interest of no more than 600 words that addresses the following three topics:
    • What civil rights/liberties issue do you feel is most pressing right now and why?
    • How do your skills and experiences make you a good fit for this position?
    • Describe a specific example of when you took ownership (or responsibility) of a project or assignment. What did it mean to you to take ownership? What was the end result?
  3. A list of three references, including a sentence about each one identifying what information the person can provide.

The ACLU-DC is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU-DC encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, or any other classification protected by the D.C. Human Rights Act or federal employment law.