Ella Baker Summer Internship Program Announcement: Center for Constitutional Rights

2L Applications Due: November 11, 2012
1L Applications Due: December 15, 2012

Apply online

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.  The Ella Baker Summer Internship Program is part of CCR’s new Social Justice Institute (SJI), an innovative training institute for social justice law students and lawyers created in partnership with the Bertha Foundation. Along with the Ella Baker Program, the SJI supports existing and aspiring social justice lawyers through a range of programs including: post-graduate fellowships, fall/spring internships and externships, Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses, regional conferences and national training institutes.


CCR created the Ella Baker Summer Internship Program in 1987 to honor the legacy of Ella Baker, a hero of the civil rights movement, and to train the next generation of social justice lawyers. The program uses a combination of theory and practice to train talented and committed law students on how to work alongside social movements, community organizations, and impacted individuals. Through our program, interns gain practical litigation experience and sharpen their theoretical understanding of the relationship between social change, organizing and lawyering.

Interns work under the direct supervision of attorneys and are given high-quality assignments and periodic feedback. Interns also participate in weekly educational seminars. Topics range from litigation skills, theories of social change, and guest lectures by noted local organizers & activists.  Interns’ responsibilities may include: legal research & writing for domestic and international litigation, factual investigation, client & witness interviews, policy/legislative research, and participation in client and community meetings. In addition, students are provided opportunities to attend court proceedings, community and client meetings, view films about social justice issues, and attend other law related panels and events.


Students in the Ella Baker program are hosted at four sites (New York City, New Orleans, Miami, Port-au-Prince). Each site offers students the opportunity to work at a legal organization where collaboration with social movements and community organizations is emphasized.  CCR has stitched these sites together in a single program to expose students to the unique opportunities and challenges of social justice lawyering in different cities, institutions with unique and varying political histories and contexts. In 2013, students will be placed at one of the following sites:

1)      New York City

Ella Baker interns in New York work at the main offices of the Center for Constitutional Rights and are supervised by CCR’s attorneys. Students gain experience working on cases in CCR’s three docket areas: Government Misconduct/Racial Justice, Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative and International Human Rights. Students conduct legal research and writing, factual investigation, background research and legislative/policy advocacy. In the past, students have worked on cases involving solitary confinement, discriminatory policing practices, social and economic rights, immigrants’ rights, U.S. detention and targeted killing practices, universal jurisdiction over international human rights abuses, gender and LGBTI justice domestically and internationally. Students also have the opportunity to work with CCR’s Education and Outreach Department on various advocacy campaigns. Students at this site experience the unique opportunities and challenges of doing social justice lawyering at a national organization. (Number of Interns:  12-15.)

2)      New Orleans, Louisiana

Ella Baker interns in New Orleans work at the Community Justice Clinic at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and are supervised by clinical faculty. Interns in New Orleans work on justice issues in the U.S. south and particularly on litigation and advocacy projects in New Orleans.  Students learn substantive, procedural and practical advocacy skills in order to assist community members with post-disaster housing and government accountability issues.  Particular emphasis is placed on social justice issues in the context of community revitalization and the unique opportunities the New Orleans rebuilding presents.  Interns research substantive law, draft pleadings, participate in community education and outreach, and advocate informally, administratively, and through carefully targeted state and federal litigation. In the past, interns have worked on local campaigns to: challenge police abuse and misconduct, displacement from rental and public housing, and a range of other civil and criminal issues.  Students at this site will experience the unique opportunities and challenges of using a community lawyering approach in post-Katrina New Orleans. (Number of Interns:  5-6.)

3)      Miami, Florida 

Ella Baker Interns in Miami work at the Community Justice Project (CJP) of Florida Legal Services and are supervised by CJP attorneys.  CJP believes lawyers create social change by building the power of community and worker organizations directed by those most affected by social injustice.  Interns in Miami will work on CJP’s varied caseload, including county, state and federal litigation, class actions, direct representation, community outreach/education, legislative advocacy, and lobbying on behalf of associations of workers/tenants and community organizations. Students’ work will relate to local campaigns to: resist anti-immigrant legislation; pass local “wage theft” ordinances; preserve low-income mobile home parks; confront “slumlords” in low-income housing; and improve working conditions for taxi-drivers. Students at this site experience the unique opportunities and challenges of utilizing a community lawyering approach at a legal services organization in one of the poorest cities in the U.S.  (Number of Interns:  4.)

4)      Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Ella Baker interns in Port-au-Prince work with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), the premiere human rights legal organization in Haiti. The BAI has pioneered a “victim centered approach” that combines traditional legal strategies with empowerment of victims/community organizations and political advocacy. At the national level, BAI lawyers represent clients in court, but also engage with judicial and government authorities through media advocacy, human rights reporting, lobbying and even organizing demonstrations. On a global level, the BAI also advocates in a variety of international forums and transnational advocacy campaigns.  Interns will be integrated into all activities of the BAI, working on a combination of domestic and international legal, advocacy and/or organizing projects with partner organizations. They will also collaborate with BAI’s U.S. partner, the Boston-basedInstitute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Due to the dynamic and fast-paced nature of legal work in Haiti, interns must demonstrate language proficiency in French or Kreyol; however, students with proficiency in both languages are preferred.  (Number of Interns: 2.)


The internship will begin on June 1, 2013 and end on August 11, 2013.  Interns are expected to work 40 hours per week for a minimum of ten weeks. Students will be asked to attend an Orientation on June 1-2 and a Final Debrief on August 10-11.


·         First year or second year law student;
·         Excellent legal research and oral/written communication skills
·         Experience and/or a demonstrated commitment to social justice, organizing and/or social movements
·         Familiarity with issues surrounding of racial justice, gender justice, civil rights,  int’l human rights, national security
·         Miami—proficiency in Spanish a plus; Haiti—fluency in Kreyol or French required (both preferred)


You must complete an online application. In additional to completing the online form, you must upload the following documents as a single PDF in order for your application to be considered complete: a) Cover Letter  (please be sure to include information about your site preferences); b) Resume; and c) three references with contact information. Note: If granted an interview, applicants may also be asked to submit a short legal writing sample.


2L applicants must upload their applications by November 11, 2012. 1L applicants must upload their applications by December 15, 2012. After receipt of application materials, interviews will be offered to suitable applicants and may be conducted in person or over the phone. Selected interviews for 2L applicants will be held from December 3-21, 2012 and 2L students will be informed in early January 2013 if they were selected.  Selected interviews for 1L applicants will be held from January 14-25 and 1L students will be informed if they were selected in early February.


Because we have limited resources, CCR strongly advises applicants to make every effort to secure their own funding. Possible sources of funding include: your law school, Bar Foundations, and Equal Justice Works. If you are unable to secure funding from other sources, you may apply for funding from CCR based on demonstration of need and proof that you have been unsuccessful in securing alternate funding.  In addition, CCR offers three funded internships for students interested in working on specific issue areas. These named fellowships include:

Ø  The Millspaugh Catlin International Human Rights Internship has been made possible through the generous gift of the Millspaugh Catlin Family Foundation, honoring the memory of Herman Copelon. The Millspaugh Intern will work on cases under CCR’s international human rights/corporate accountability docket. At the request of the benefactor, preference will be given to a CUNY law student applicant.

Ø  The Gregory H. Finger Racial Justice Internship was created by former CCR Executive Director, long-serving Board Member, and former Board Chair Greg Finger. This fellowship reflects his commitment and dedication to social justice and education. This fellowship is offered to a student with a strong commitment to public interest law and/or advocacy and a demonstrated interest in working on CCR’s broad-ranging racial justice docket.

Ø  The Helena Rubinstein Fellowship for Women’s Justice is made possible through the generosity of the Helena Rubenstein Foundation. This fellowship is offered to a student with a strong commitment to public interest law and advancing women’s justice and a demonstrated interest in working on CCR’s broad-ranging gender justice caseload.

Interested applicants should include an explanation in your cover letter of your interest in/qualifications for a particular Fellowship.


If you have specific questions about the Ella Baker Program, please contact Mr. An-Tuan Williams at awilliams@ccrjustice.org. But, please no e-mail inquiries or phone calls about the status of your application!