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 psychiatric 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; an appeal seeking to broaden the judicial interpretation of the scope of Title VII prohibitions against employment discrimination; a challenge to the D.C. Jail’s failure to house transgender individuals in accord with their gender identity; 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 acludc.org.
NATURE OF FELLOWSHIP
The ACLU-DC seeks rising third-year law students, judicial clerks, and law graduates to sponsor for externally-funded one- or two-year legal fellowships. We will work with a successful applicant to develop a project proposal to submit to funding organizations. Please note that the ACLU-DC does not have independent internal funding for this fellowship position; we seek to host an externally-funded fellow only.
Applicants will be asked to submit ideas for a project proposal relating to civil liberties and civil rights in Washington, D.C. Proposed projects often combine impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. We will give preference to projects that either focus on criminal justice reform (our biggest area of current in-house litigation) or are new and innovative, enabling the ACLU-DC to serve unmet legal needs or expand our reach. Proposals should include a short description of the problem your project seeks to address, concrete strategies and tools to address the problem, goals for what you want to accomplish during the fellowship, and why you are the best candidate for this fellowship project. We understand that project proposals may be broad at this stage.
Likelihood of obtaining funding will be a consideration (so, for instance, having access to additional school-based funding opportunities would be advantageous).
Past legal fellows have had the opportunity to develop their own cases and serve as lead counsel, testify before the D.C. Council, conduct Know Your Rights trainings, take depositions, argue in court, and speak on behalf of the ACLU-DC to national and local media outlets.
- You will have obtained a J.D. by fall 2022.
- 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 excellent legal research skills, including the judgment to discern what cases are relevant to a particular research question, and thoroughness in covering the question asked.
- You have 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 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, advise, and work collaboratively with clients and other community members.
- Your experience includes at least one clinical or externship semester or summer internship working in a litigation setting involving legal research and writing.
- You will be a D.C. Bar member by fall 2022 or will seek admission during the fellowship.
- You meet the eligibility criteria for one or more externally-funded fellowships that would fund a fellowship at the ACLU-DC.
We will supplement the amount of the fellowship salary so that the fellow will receive a salary of $64,000 per year. Benefits currently provided to all ACLU-DC employees (including externally-funded fellows) include employer-paid health insurance, vacation and sick leave, and 401(k) availability with employer match.
The deadline for applying is 11:59pm Eastern time on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, but our evaluation of candidates is rolling, so earlier submission is advantageous. To apply, complete the application at https://acludc.com/legalfellow2023. If you require accommodations to complete the application, please email operations (@) acludc.org. Please submit:
- A copy of your resume that lists relevant experience.
- A detailed cover letter explaining your interest in this fellowship, the nature of your proposed project and the population you seek to serve, and why you are well-suited to carry out this particular project.
- A list of three references, including a sentence about each one identifying what information the person can provide. If possible, at least one of your references should be a practicing attorney.
- In place of a transcript, a list of all law school courses that you have taken, are currently taking, or (where applicable) are scheduled to take next semester.
- A writing sample, which should be legal in nature (documents analyzing a specific legal problem in the context of real or hypothetical litigation are preferable to law review articles) and not edited by others.
- A separate statement indicating whether, if your application for an Equal Justice Works, Skadden or other externally-funded public service fellowship at ACLU-DC is unsuccessful, your law school has a program that could fund a fellowship at ACLU-DC, and if so, what rules govern the allocation of such school-based fellowships, how many such fellowships are awarded each year, and any conditions attached to such funding (such as the requirement to continue to apply for jobs during the fellowship year).
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. If you have a disability and need a reasonable accommodation regarding any part of the application process, please include your accommodation request(s) in your application email.