Bertha SJI - Ella Baker Summer Internship Program

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Ella Baker Summer Internship Program

Application Info:
The deadline to apply for the 2014 program has passed.

Thank you for your interest.

CCR created the Ella Baker Summer Internship Program to train the next generation of social justice lawyers. The program uses a combination of theory and practice to help talented and committed law students work alongside social movements, community organizations, and impacted individuals. Interns gain practical litigation experience and sharpen their theoretical understanding of the relationship between social change, organizing and lawyering.

What do Ella Baker interns do?

Interns work under the direct supervision of attorneys and are given high-impact assignments and mentorship. Interns also participate in weekly educational seminars. Topics range from litigation skills, theories of social change, and guest lectures by noted local organizers & activists. Interns participate in legal research & writing for domestic and international litigation, factual investigation, client & witness interviews, policy/legislative research, client and community meetings, court proceedings, and other law related panels and events.

Who was Ella Baker?

CCR created the Ella Baker Summer Internship Program in 1987 to honor the legacy of Ella Baker, a hero of the civil rights movement. She was an organizer for the NAACP and an executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ella Baker strongly believed that young people could make significant change. She said, "My theory is, strong people don’t need strong leaders." As an advisor to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), she said, "Most of the youngsters had been trained to believe in or to follow adults if they could. I felt they ought to have a chance to learn to think things through and to make decisions."

The Center for Constitutional Rights is proud to honor her life and memory with the Ella Baker Summer Internship Program. It is our hope that many young people will be inspired to follow in her footsteps.

Program Dates

The internship will begin on June 2, 2014 and end on August 8, 2014. Interns are expected to work 40 hours per week for a minimum of ten weeks. There is an Orientation on June 2-3 and a Final Debrief on August 7-8.

Program Locations

Students in the Ella Baker program are hosted at four sites: New York City, New Orleans, Miami, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Each site offers students the opportunity to work at a legal organization where collaboration with social movements and community organizations is emphasized. CCR has stitched these sites together in a single program to expose students to the unique opportunities and challenges of social justice lawyering in different cities, institutions with unique and varying political histories and contexts. In 2014, students will be placed at one of the following sites:

New York City, NY

Ella Baker interns in New York work at the main offices of the Center for Constitutional Rights and are supervised by CCR’s attorneys. Students gain experience working on cases in CCR’s three docket areas: Government Misconduct/Racial Justice, Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative and International Human Rights. Students conduct legal research and writing, factual investigation, background research and legislative/policy advocacy. In the past, students have worked on cases involving solitary confinement, discriminatory policing practices, social and economic rights, immigrants’ rights, U.S. detention and targeted killing practices, universal jurisdiction over international human rights abuses, gender and LGBTI justice domestically and internationally. Students also have the opportunity to work with CCR’s Education and Outreach Department on various advocacy campaigns. Students at this site experience the unique opportunities and challenges of doing social justice lawyering at a national organization. (Number of Interns: 12-15)

New Orleans, Louisiana

Ella Baker interns in New Orleans work at the Community Justice Clinic at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and are supervised by clinical faculty. Interns in New Orleans work on justice issues in the U.S. south and particularly on litigation and advocacy projects in New Orleans. Students learn substantive, procedural and practical advocacy skills in order to assist community members with post-disaster housing and government accountability issues. Particular emphasis is placed on social justice issues in the context of community revitalization and the unique opportunities the New Orleans rebuilding presents. Interns research substantive law, draft pleadings, participate in community education and outreach, and advocate informally, administratively, and through carefully targeted state and federal litigation. In the past, interns have worked on local campaigns to: challenge police abuse and misconduct, displacement from rental and public housing, and a range of other civil and criminal issues. Students at this site will experience the unique opportunities and challenges of using a community lawyering approach in post-Katrina New Orleans. (Number of Interns: 5-6)

Miami, Florida

Ella Baker Interns in Miami work at the Community Justice Project (CJP) of Florida Legal Services and are supervised by CJP attorneys. CJP believes lawyers create social change by building the power of community and worker organizations directed by those most affected by social injustice. Interns in Miami will work on CJP’s varied caseload, including county, state and federal litigation, class actions, direct representation, community outreach/education, legislative advocacy, and lobbying on behalf of associations of workers/tenants and community organizations. Students’ work will relate to local campaigns to: resist anti-immigrant legislation; pass local “wage theft” ordinances; preserve low-income mobile home parks; confront “slumlords” in low-income housing; and improve working conditions for taxi-drivers. Students at this site experience the unique opportunities and challenges of utilizing a community lawyering approach at a legal services organization in one of the poorest cities in the U.S. (Number of Interns: 4-5)

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Ella Baker interns in Port-au-Prince work with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), the premiere human rights legal organization in Haiti. The BAI has pioneered a “victim centered approach” that combines traditional legal strategies with empowerment of victims/community organizations and political advocacy. At the national level, BAI lawyers represent clients in court, but also engage with judicial and government authorities through media advocacy, human rights reporting, lobbying and even organizing demonstrations. On a global level, the BAI also advocates in a variety of international fora and transnational advocacy campaigns. Interns will be integrated into all activities of the BAI, working on a combination of domestic and international legal, advocacy and/or organizing projects with partner organizations. They will also collaborate with BAI’s U.S. partner, the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Due to the dynamic and fast-paced nature of legal work in Haiti, interns must demonstrate language proficiency in French or Kreyol; however, students with proficiency in both languages are preferred. (Number of Interns: 2-3)


Intern Qualifications
  • First year or second year law student
  • Excellent legal research and oral/written communication skills
  • Experience and/or a demonstrated commitment to social justice, organizing and/or social movements
  • Familiarity with issues surrounding of racial justice, gender justice, civil rights, international human rights, national security law
  • Miami Interns - Proficiency in Spanish a plus
  • Haiti Interns - Fluency in either Kreyol or French required (both are preferred)

Because we have limited resources, CCR strongly advises applicants to make every effort to secure their own funding. Possible sources of funding include: your law school; your local Bar Foundation; Equal Justice America, etc. CCR may be able to provide funding only for those who have demonstrated that they have been diligent in seeking alternate funds but have been unsuccessful.

If you have specific questions about the Ella Baker Program, please contact:
Mr. An-Tuan Williams
Center for Constitutional Rights
Social Justice Institute Associate

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