SPRING 2018 LEGAL INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY, ACLUF, National Prison Project, Washington, D.C.

Legal Internships
District of Columbia
August 31, 2017


American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
National Prison Project, 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 that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. Whether it’s achieving full equality for the LGBT community, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, ending mass incarceration, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than a 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, disability or national origin.

The National Prison Project of the ACLU’s National Office in Washington, D.C. invites applicants for Spring 2018 Legal Internships. The ACLU provides a $5,000 stipend to law student summer interns who work full-time at the ACLU for 10 weeks. If students receive funding from their law schools in an amount that is less than $5,000 the ACLU will provide a stipend to cover the shortfall in their funding, up to $5,000. Arrangements can also be made with the student’s law school for work/study stipends or course credit. 


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 seeks to promote prisoners’ rights through class action litigation and public education. Its priorities include reducing prison overcrowding, improving prisoner medical care, eliminating violence and maltreatment, and increasing oversight and accountability in prisons, jails, and other places of detention.

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 for 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; work, education, and treatment programs are inadequate; and prison violence has increased. 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 Project, with a staff of six lawyers, has fought and continues to fight unlawful prison conditions and practices through successful litigation on behalf of prisoners in more than 25 states. Since 1991, the Project has represented prisoners in five cases before the United States Supreme Court. The ACLU is the only organization litigating prison conditions of confinement nationwide on behalf of men, women, and children.


The Spring Legal Internship is either full-time or more typically part-time with weekly hours that are negotiable, requires a commitment for the semester, and has a preferred start date of early January 2018.

Interns will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by working alongside the National Prison Project team.  More specifically, legal interns will:

  • Work closely with staff lawyers on major class action civil rights lawsuits in federal court.
  • Draft pleadings and briefs, discovery and motion practices, and assist with trials and appeals.
  • Provide technical assistance to ACLU local affiliates, cooperating lawyers, and other lawyers who seek assistance from the Project.


  • First, second and third year law students may apply.
  • Applicants must have strong analytical 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.

Students are highly encouraged to seek public interest fellowships or other funding for the internship. Arrangements also can be made with the student’s law school for work/study stipends. In the event a student is unable to secure alternative funding, a stipend will be provided by the Project.


Please send a cover letter describing your interest in prison reform and civil liberties, including any relevant life or work experience; a legal writing sample; a resume; and three references to hrjobsNPP@aclu.org. Reference [Spring  2018 Legal Internship, NPP] in the subject line. If applying for a part-time internship, please specify in your application your preferred weekly schedule.  Please note that this is not the general ACLU applicant email address.  This email address is specific to National Prison Project postings. In order to ensure your application is received please make certain it is sent to the correct e-mail address.

Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this internship opportunity. Applicants are encouraged to submit materials as early as possible as decisions are made on a rolling basis.

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.

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 contact HRJobsINCL@aclu.org. 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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