The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Inc. (“LDF”) 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 Fall 2020.  Sponsorship will enable the applicant to submit proposals for consideration to the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program, and/or similar programs, including fellowships offered by the applicant’s law school.

LDF is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm.  Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s transformative mission is to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society.  For over 70 years, LDF has litigated civil rights cases in a broad range of areas, including education, economic justice, criminal justice, and political participation.  Some of LDF’s most prominent cases include: Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948) (holding that the enforcement of racially restrictive covenants in housing violated the Equal Protection Clause); Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (striking de jure racial segregation in public education); Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971) (announcing the disparate impact theory of discrimination under Title VII); Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972) (finding death penalty unconstitutional under 8th Amendment); McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987) (ruling that statistical evidence alone was insufficient to find racial discrimination in Georgia’s death penalty); and Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013) (invalidating key provision of the Voting Rights Act).  LDF’s current litigation practice and other advocacy seek redress for racial discrimination across the country.

We seek to sponsor a public interest Fellow to address systemic obstacles and policies that underlie continuing racial disparities and discrimination. The Fellow will work with LDF attorneys and other staff on trial and appellate litigation in state and federal courts, policymaking, and/or other forms of advocacy.  Fellowship projects may include the following issues:

  • EDUCATION
    • Discriminatory school discipline policies and practices.
    • Racial disparities resulting from school system operations (e.g., curricular offerings, student assignment, discipline policies, distribution of teachers).
    • Enforcement of existing school desegregation consent decrees.
    • Diversity and inclusion in higher education.
  • ECONOMIC JUSTICE
    • Discriminatory use of credit history or criminal background checks.
    • Discriminatory practices in mortgages or foreclosure (or other housing-related issue).
    • Criminalization of poverty.
  • CRIMINAL JUSTICE
    • Racially discriminatory and/or excessive use of force by law enforcement.
    • Parole and/or probation reform.
    • Qualified immunity.
    • Criminalization of youth of color.
    • State and federal sentencing reform.
    • Prosecutorial misconduct and/or racially discriminatory exercise of discretion.
    • Capital punishment.
  • VOTING RIGHTS
    • Challenging racially discriminatory voting laws—particularly those occurring in areas formerly covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act pre-Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder—via litigation or threatened litigation under the remaining provisions of the VRA and other laws.
    • Developing and implementing campaigns to prepare Black communities to vote and advocate for changes to election practices and procedures before Election Day.
    • Developing and implementing public education campaigns regarding a variety of federal, state and local level voting-related issues like voter suppression, the decennial census and post-2020 redistricting, and the expansion of opportunities for pre-trial detained individuals and people with felony convictions to vote.
    • Assisting LDF’s legislative efforts in related to federal and state voting laws and policies.

Selected candidates will be required to seek their own funding by preparing and submitting proposals to relevant fellowship programs, with guidance from the LDF staff.  The Fellow’s work may involve any of the issue areas addressed or a more specific area, depending upon the nature of the fellowship proposal.  For more information about LDF’s work, please visit our website: https://www.naacpldf.org.

Qualifications & Application Process:

Candidates should have a demonstrated commitment to racial justice and addressing racial inequality; 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 working with LDF and relevant experience; (2) a resume; (3) a list of three references; and (4) a legal writing sample.  Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to include a brief description of potential project idea(s) in the cover letter.  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

This is not an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, skills, efforts or requirements or working conditions associated with the job. While this is intended to be an accurate reflection of the current job, management reserves the right to revise the job or to require that other or different tasks be performed as assigned. This description does not constitute a contract of employment and LDF may exercise its employment-at-will rights at any time.