National Prison Project Fall 2018 Legal Fellowship

Legal Fellowships
District of Columbia
February 28, 2018

Litigation Fellowship

American Civil Liberties Union

 National Prison Project, Washington, DC

Only applications associated with an externally funded Fellowship will be accepted via this application process

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. Whether it’s ending mass incarceration, achieving full equality for the LGBT community, advancing racial justice, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties and civil rights cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. 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 National Prison Project (NPP) of the ACLU’s National office in Washington, D.C. seeks applications for a full-time Litigation Fellow. The Fellow will be selected from third-year law students or junior-level attorneys (less than five years of experience).  The Fellowship is expected to commence in the fall of 2018 and last for one year.

The National Prison Project welcomes externally funded Fellowship candidates.   Candidates must identify the externally funded Fellowship opportunity on their own before contacting NPP. 

NPP is happy to participate in supporting such a Fellowship should if fall within the parameters of our work. 



Founded in 1972 by the American Civil Liberties Union, 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.  Since 1991 it 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. The Project leads the nationwide Stop Solitary campaign, which works to end the excessive and inappropriate use of solitary confinement.   The Project also coordinates a nationwide network of litigators, conducts training and public education conferences, and provides expert advice and technical assistance to activists and lawyers throughout the country. 

The Project also works to challenge the policies of over-incarceration that have led the United States to imprison more people than any other country in the world. This is an opportune moment to reform those policies.  There is a growing consensus among criminal justice experts and policymakers that America’s criminal justice system has relied too heavily on incarceration as the first and often only response to non-violent behavior that could better be addressed through other means.  The population in American prisons and jails has tripled in the past 15 years and now approaches two and a half million.  Facilities are overcrowded; medical systems are overwhelmed; and work, education, and treatment programs are inadequate.  This failed experiment does not make us safer, it is not affordable, and it exacerbates the racial disparities that have long plagued the criminal justice system. 



The Litigation Fellow will work closely with Staff Attorneys on major class action and damage cases in federal court.  The work includes drafting pleadings and briefs, participating in discovery and motion practice, and assisting with trials and appeals.  In addition, the Litigation Fellow will provide technical assistance to ACLU affiliates, cooperating lawyers, and others who seek assistance from the Project.



Applicants must have strong analytical, research and verbal skills, an ability to write clearly, and a commitment to civil liberties and public interest law.  A familiarity with criminal justice issues is highly desirable. The Fellow will be selected from third-year law students or junior-level attorneys (less than five years of experience) and will serve for a one-year period.



Applications should consist of a current resume, the names and phone numbers of three references, and at least one legal writing sample. The position will remain open until it is filled.  Applications should be sent to:   Reference Litigation Fellow in the subject line.

In some cases, we are willing to work with an applicant to develop a fellowship proposal.

Only applications associated with an externally funded Fellowship will be accepted via this application process.

Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job posting.

Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this career opportunity.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

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 description and/or posting at any time without advance notice.

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, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, 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 Correspondence sent to this email address that is not related to requests for 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.”

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