Fall 2020 Legal Fellowship Sponsorship - National Prison Project and Women’s Rights Project, NY or DC

  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • New York, NY, USA
  • May 21, 2019
Full time Public Policy

Job Description

Fall 2020 Legal Fellowship Sponsorship - National Prison Project and Women’s Rights Project, NY or DC


Office:  National Offices, New York, NY

Location:  New York

MAY 15, 2019


Fall 2020 Legal Fellowship Sponsorship Opportunity

Notice to Third-Year Law Students and Recent Graduates

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation

National Prison Project and Women’s Rights Project

New York, NY or Washington, D.C.


For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. With more than one million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, national origin, record of arrest or conviction.

The ACLU invites second- or third-year law students and recent law graduates to apply for a sponsorship opportunity to work with us as a Legal Fellow.  The National Prison Project and the Women’s Rights Project of the National office based in D.C. and New York, respectively, seek applicants to consider for a sponsored fellowship such as Skadden, Equal Justice Works, or other public interest fellowships to begin in the fall of 2020.



The National Prison Project (NPP) seeks to ensure constitutional conditions of confinement in prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, and immigration detention facilities. The Project has successfully litigated on behalf of prisoners in more than 25 states, and since 1991 has represented prisoners in five cases before the United States Supreme Court. The Project is the only organization litigating conditions of confinement cases nationwide on behalf of men, women, and children. NPP policy priorities include reducing prison overcrowding, improving prisoner health care, eliminating violence and maltreatment, and increasing oversight and accountability in prisons, jails, and other places of detention. You can learn more about the work of the National Prison Project here.

The Women’s Rights Project is part of the ACLU’s Center for Liberty, which is dedicated to the principle that we are all entitled to determine the course of our lives based on who we are and what we believe, free from unreasonable government constraint and baseless stereotypes. The Center for Liberty encompasses the ACLU’s work on women’s rights, reproductive freedom, LGBT rights and the rights of people living with HIV, freedom of religion and belief, and the rights of people with disabilities. Founded in 1972 by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Women's Rights Project (WRP) has been a leader in the legal battles to ensure women’s full equality in American society. WRP is dedicated to the advancement of the rights and interests of women and works to break down gender stereotypes that limit opportunities for individuals. You can learn more about the work of the Women’s Rights Project here.

We are particularly interested in a project combatting sexual violence behind bars. Fifteen years after the passage of the landmark Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), pervasive sexual violence behind bars remains a nationwide problem. Although DOJ and ICE adopted comprehensive regulations to implement the law in 2012 and 2014 respectively, in practice they have largely been realized on paper rather than on the ground – and have not created the major cultural and operational shift in correctional institutions originally anticipated. The result is that thousands of people continue to suffer rape, sexual abuse and sexual harassment with little to no protections in institutions across the country. Women, LGBT and gender non-conforming prisoners are particularly vulnerable, regardless of whether they are in custody for immigration or criminal violations. Trans and gender nonconforming incarcerated people also experience high rates of sexual violence from both staff and other prisoners.  Trans women placed in men’s prisons against their will face particularly heightened vulnerability. With the ongoing detention of individuals for immigration violations and continued high incarceration rates generally, the need for actualizing the potential of PREA, and urging greater protection, is even more urgent.

The ACLU National Prison Project (NPP) has been a key proponent of strengthening PREA to protect men, women and children in prison, jail and detention settings at all levels. But more needs to be done and NPP is in a unique position to do this work because of its national reach and existing expertise. The Women’s Rights Project (WRP) has fought to create greater state accountability for government perpetuation of violence against women, through litigation and advocacy identifying such violence as a civil rights issue. While case authorities enforcing and applying PREA standards are sparse in the criminal incarceration context, they are even fewer in the immigration detention field.  This fellow will allow NPP and WRP to significantly advance both advocacy and litigation in the arena of combatting sexual violence behind bars.

The fellowship is intended to focus on two primary areas. The first focus area will be on providing technical assistance and training to ACLU affiliates and allies on methods to use DOJ and ICE audit data related to PREA to improve and monitor correctional policies in their home jurisdictions.

The second prong of the fellowship will focus on developing the law around sexual violence in custodial settings.  The dearth of case law provides an opportunity to create positive judicial precedent in select states or circuits. In addition, a gap in the law exists around the issue of consent behind bars.  In order to more actively shape the law in this area, the fellow will work with NPP’s Appellate Litigation Project to monitor pro se prisoner and detainee filings to identify promising cases and potentially file amicus briefs or offer to serve as appellate counsel. The fellow will also collaborate with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project to identify potential cases.

Our staff will work with candidates to develop their proposals for submission, helping tailor the proposal to address an important civil liberties issue. Proposed projects often combine litigation and advocacy with community outreach and public education.



  • Conduct legal research and analysis and develop theories to support new litigation projects.
  • Draft legal memoranda, pleadings, affidavits, motions, and briefs.
  • Interview witnesses and potential clients.
  • Participate in discovery and trial practice.
  • Draft and edit public education and non-litigation advocacy materials.
  • Provide support and assistance to ACLU affiliates and cooperating attorneys.
  • Help manage summer legal internship program and supervise student interns.
  • Engage in public speaking and attend meetings and/or conferences as needed.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity within the office using a personal approach that values all individuals and respects differences in regards to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance.
  • Commitment to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts.



  • D. or expected to receive a J.D by the spring of 2020.
  • Demonstrated commitment to public interest law, civil liberties, gender justice, racial justice, prisoners’ rights, immigrants’ rights, and eradicating gender-based violence and sexual violence behind bars.
  • Willingness to work closely with the National Prison Project and the Women’s Rights Project through the funding application process.
  • Excellent research, writing, and verbal communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a proven ability to work independently as well as within a team.
  • Self-motivated with the ability to take initiative, manage a variety of tasks and see projects through to completion.
  • Commitment to the mission of the ACLU.



The ACLU offers a generous and comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU compensation scale, to supplement the external funding.



If you would like to be considered for a sponsorship opportunity, please submit: a letter of interest that includes a description of a project proposal (please indicate in your letter of interest whether you only seek sponsorship for your proposal or would be open to other ideas)

  • current resume
  • legal writing sample
  • names and telephone numbers of three references

Materials should be sent to  hrjobsWRP@aclu.org  referencing “2020 Legal Fellowship Sponsorship – National Prison Project/Women’s Rights Project”  in the subject line.


We will review applications on a rolling basis, but priority consideration will be given to those who submit applications by June 10, 2019.

Please indicate where you learned of this job posting.


This job description provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications required. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU reserves the right to change the job description and or posting at any time without advance notice.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, record of arrest or conviction, and veteran status.

The ACLU undertakes affirmative action strategies in its recruitment and employment efforts to assure that persons with disabilities have full opportunities for employment in all positions.

We encourage applicants with disabilities who may need accommodations in the application process to contact: HRJobsINCL@aclu.org.  Correspondence sent to this address that is not related to accommodations will not be reviewed. Applicants should follow the instructions above regarding how to apply.

The ACLU comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation are national organizations with the same overall mission, and share office space and employees. The ACLU has two separate corporate entities in order to do a broad range of work to protect civil liberties. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU.”




The ACLU offers a generous and comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU compensation scale.