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Economic Justice Fellowship

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August 6, 2013

The Economic Justice Practice Group invites rising third-year law students, judicial clerks, and other recent law school graduates to apply for LDF sponsorship for public interest fellowship projects to begin in the Fall of 2014. Sponsorship will enable the applicant to submit proposals to the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, Equal Justice Works and/or similar programs.

For many decades, LDF has been a leader in the fight for economic equality for communities of color. LDF has litigated several groundbreaking Supreme Court decisions involving economic justice, including Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948) (holding that the enforcement of racially restrictive covenants in housing violated the Equal Protection Clause), Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971) (announcing the disparate impact theory of discrimination under Title VII). In 2010, LDF’s Economic Justice Practice Group litigated and won a unanimous decision before the Supreme Court in Lewis v. City of Chicago, following oral argument by LDF’s then-President and Director-Counsel John Payton.  The case challenged discrimination against African Americans who applied to be Chicago firefighters.

Today the economic disparities facing African Americans are more acute than ever—black families' median income is only 58% the income of white families, at least a quarter of African American families have no assets at all to turn to in times of economic hardship, and current estimates are that African Americans will have lost between $71 and $92 billion in home wealth due to subprime loans by the end of the current economic crisis. Overturning the continuing barriers to equal economic opportunity is critical to changing these outcomes. Thus, LDF's Economic Justice Practice Group focuses on equal employment rights, fair housing, and environmental justice, among other areas, and recent cases include: Davis v. City of New York (a suit challenging the NYPD’s practices of unlawful stops and arrests of New York City public housing residents and their visitors for criminal trespass based on their race and/or ethnicity); Thompson v. HUD (a class action challenging segregation of Baltimore’s public housing); Cogdell v. Wet Seal (a class action lawsuit on behalf of black retail store managers alleging discrimination in pay, promotion and terminations); the Road Home case (a post-Katrina fair housing lawsuit against HUD and Louisiana on behalf of a putative class of African-American homeowners in New Orleans); and Holt v. City of Dickson (a Title VI lawsuit alleging environmental racism by governmental and private actors in rural Tennessee).

The Economic Justice Practice Group Fellow will work with the Group's attorneys to litigate cases in the federal courts and advocate for federal and state-level policy reforms on issues of economic justice. The Fellow will be required to prepare and submit a proposal under the guidance of LDF staff to seek his/her own funding by preparing and submitting a proposal to relevant fellowship programs. The Fellow’s work may involve any of the issue areas addressed by the Economic Justice Practice Group, but applicants should particularly consider proposals that challenge systemic barriers that limit African Americans’ access to economic opportunity as the rest of the country rebounds from the Great Recession.  Proposals may address employment discrimination based on credit history, discrimination in mortgage lending and/or foreclosures, access to credit, or higher education financing, or environmental justice issues.  

Candidates should have a demonstrated commitment to economic and racial justice, outstanding research and writing skills, the ability to work both collaboratively and independently, and the capacity for creative thinking.  Interested candidates should apply by sending the following materials:

  1. a cover letter specifying the candidate’s interest in LDF and relevant experience; 
  2. a resume;
  3. a list of three references; and
  4. a legal writing sample.

The Group prefers to sponsor a single applicant for all relevant fellowships.  Applicants will be considered on a rolling basis; however, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit materials prior to August 16, 2013.  As some fellowships have mid-September deadlines, applicants submitting materials after that date significantly reduce their chances of sponsorship. 

Please send this information by email to or by mail to:

Monica Garcia
Director of Human Resources
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
44 Rector Street, 5th Floor
New York,  New York 10006-1738

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to you without regard to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, marital status, age, veteran status, disability or genetic information.