The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) invites rising third-year law students and recent law graduates to apply for a sponsorship opportunity to work with us as a public interest legal fellow. As an integral part of the ACLU-NJ, our fellows gain practical experience through defending and expanding civil liberties and constitutional rights: they will work on lawsuits, advocacy, policy research, and public education.
We will work with a successful applicant to develop a project proposal for specific funding organizations, including Equal Justice Works, the Open Society Foundations (Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship), the Justice Catalyst, and the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, and for law schools, such as Yale’s Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowship and University of Chicago’s Postgraduate Public Interest Law Fellowship. We will help tailor a fellowship project to both address an important civil liberties issue and develop the fellow’s skills as a lawyer, while satisfying the funding organization’s requirements. Please note that the ACLU-NJ does not have independent internal funding for this fellowship position.
As the New Jersey affiliate of the national ACLU, we advance wide-ranging civil rights, civil liberties, and racial justice issues. We are focused on ending discriminatory criminal justice policies, challenging abusive police practices, protecting and expanding voting rights, and fighting for the rights of immigrants, students, and LGBTQ people. Rare among ACLU affiliates, we also prioritize issues at the nexus of civil liberties and economic justice because of our belief that people must possess the basic necessities of life in order to enjoy other constitutional rights and freedoms.
Past and current fellows have: advanced the rights of incarcerated young people to an adequate education, challenged civil asset forfeitures, advocated against solitary confinement in immigration detention, advocated for and litigated in furtherance of increased government transparency, combated debtors’ prison practices in municipal courts, and tracked the school-to-prison pipeline that criminalizes young New Jerseyans in their classrooms.
In addition to having passion for the work of the ACLU-NJ, the ideal candidate will be a self-starter and be able to work independently, manage projects, and collaborate and be part of a team. We are looking to sponsor candidates who are able to think critically, write clearly and accessibly, and have litigation (such as a clinic or clerkship) or policy advocacy experience.
The ideal candidate will also have a strong commitment to racial equity, and an understanding of how power is manifested in matters of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, ability, and socio-economic circumstances.
The ACLU-NJ values a diverse work environment and strongly encourages applications from women, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ, people with disabilities, people who have experienced poverty or homelessness, people who have had prior contact with the juvenile, criminal, child welfare, or immigration systems, and people who have personal experience with other issues we work on.
To apply, please use the form below to upload a résumé, writing sample, law school transcript and a cover letter that details specific interests and outlines a fellowship project proposal. Applicants should feel free to propose more than one project but are encouraged to keep their cover letters under two pages in length. We understand that project proposals may be broad at this stage. We invite applicants to include in their cover letter information about how their background and/or experiences could contribute to the diversity, cultural vitality, and perspective of our staff and advocacy work. The candidate will be expected to work closely with the ACLU-NJ through the funding process.
We will begin to review applications on a rolling basis beginning June 10, 2019. We anticipate that we will begin scheduling first-round phone interviews in early July. The fellowship position will have a start date in September 2020.
The ACLU-NJ is an equal opportunity employer and embraces diversity, including those characteristics protected by law and beyond. We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills, and we value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The more inclusive we are, the better we are.