NAACP Legal Defense Fund : Defend, Educate, Empower

Skip to Navigation
"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

Earl Kirkland

John Payton Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy Fellow

Earl Kirkland currently serves as a John Payton Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy Fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). As a Payton Fellow, Earl works on an array of complex civil rights cases at various stages in the litigation process in federal district and appellate courts across the country. He also authors and significantly contributes to amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts. 

Earl joined LDF as an Education Fellow in September 2017. In that capacity, he litigated to ensure racial equity in education for African-American students and to secure a safe, inclusive, high quality education for all students.

Prior to joining LDF, Earl served as a law clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the Honorable Linda V. Parker of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. He is licensed to practice in Michigan; admission to practice in New York is pending. He is supervised by members of the New York bar.

Earl earned his J.D. from Cornell Law School, where he was actively involved in death penalty post-conviction litigation in Anniston, Alabama, through the law school’s Death Penalty Project. Earl graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, where he attained a B.A. in English and an academic minor in Crime and Justice.