Ella Baker Summer Internship Program

From taking on the NYPD’s racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk program to challenging indefinite detention and torture at Guantánamo and the cruel and unusual treatment of incarcerated transgender women by detention facilities in the South, the Center for Constitutional Rights has been on the front lines of the fight for social justice for 55 years. We’re a multiracial, diverse staff committed to building the power of the people and communities we represent. Whether it’s immigration detention, solitary confinement, the Movement for Black Lives, Muslim profiling, Palestinian human rights, or environmental or gender injustices in the South, we fight for civil and human rights through creative use of litigation and other forms of legal as well as non-legal advocacy. Building upon its historic roots in the Deep South, the Center for Constitutional Rights has expanded this movement advocacy model to the South, through its Southern Justice Rising initiative, to help strengthen, support, and build the power of southern regional movements to fight oppressive power and to actualize their visions for a more equitable future.

The Ella Baker Program

CCR created the Ella Baker Summer Internship Program in 1987 to honor the legacy of Ella Baker, a hero of the civil rights movement, and to train the next generation of social justice lawyers. Through our program, interns gain practical litigation experience and sharpen their theoretical understanding of the relationship between social change, organizing and lawyering. Ella Baker interns also become connected to a global community of social justice law students and lawyers through our Ella Baker Alumni Network.

Intern Roles & Responsibilities

The internship was administered in a hybrid setting for the summer of 2023. Next year, we will continue to have a hybrid program with the option of being fully remote. Interns will work under the direct supervision of CCR attorneys and advocacy program managers on CCR cases and projects. Interns also participate in training on litigation skills, movement lawyering, and other relevant topics. Interns’ responsibilities may include: legal research & writing for domestic and international litigation, factual investigation, client & witness interviews,
policy/legislative research, and participation in client and community meetings. Interns are also provided opportunities to attend court proceedings and organization events.

In the past, interns have worked on cases involving solitary confinement, discriminatory policing practices, social and economic rights, free speech, immigrants’ rights, U.S. detention and targeted killing practices,
environmental justice, universal jurisdiction over international human rights abuses, gender and LGBTI justice domestically and internationally, and related work in the South in connection with the Southern Justice Rising initiative. Interns also have had the opportunity to work on various advocacy campaigns.

Program Dates

The internship will begin on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 and end on Friday, August 9, 2024. Ella Baker interns are
expected to work 40 hours per week.

Intern Qualifications

  • Students must have completed their first year or second year of law school by summer of 2023. CCR does not accept law graduates in the Ella Baker program.
  • Experience and/or a demonstrated commitment to racial justice, gender justice, civil rights, international
    human rights, national security law, and/or social justice organizing.
  • Excellent legal research and communication skills.


Because we have limited resources, CCR requires applicants to make diligent efforts to secure summer funding from their law schools. If you are not able to get funding from your school, or your school provides funding at a lower amount than CCR, CCR will provide you with summer funding or will supplement your school’s funding. Last year CCR funded internships up to $7500/summer. Accepted students will receive more information about this process after receiving notice of their acceptance. CCR also provides up to $1000 in relocation funding for students who live outside the New York City area and up to $500 for local transportation costs.

Application Deadlines and Timeline

The application process opens for 2Ls on August 28, 2023 and closes on October 7, 2023 at midnight PST. During this period candidates will be able to complete an online application on CCR’s website (ccrjustice.org) or at the link: https://ellabakerccr.wufoo.com/forms/ella-baker-2024-summer-internship-application. Please note, we will not accept applications before August 28 or after October 7. Once the website link is live, students will be prompted to upload the following documents as a single PDF, named “Doe, Jane Application”:

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • Three references with contact information

If granted an interview, applicants may also be asked to submit a short legal writing sample.

The Ella Baker Internship program is primarily staffed by 2Ls. This year, we will not hire 1Ls for the 2024 summer program. Interviews for 2L applicants will be held from early to mid-October 2023, and 2L students will be informed by early November if they are selected.

The Center for Constitutional Rights only offers internships for a single term or semester (fall, spring, or summer). Students who have formerly interned with us are not eligible to apply for another internship.

Why is the Internship Named After Ella Baker?

Ella Baker devoted her life to social change. During the Depression she organized consumer cooperatives andwrote, taught, and lectured on consumer affairs for the Federal Works Progress Administration. In the 1940’s she traveled throughout the South, often alone in dangerous segregated areas, organizing chapters of the NAACP. She was an early executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ella Baker strongly believed that community members and young people could make significant changes in their lives. She said, “My theory is, strong people don’t need strong leaders.” She seldom appeared on television or in news stories, explaining that, “The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come.” Many consider her greatest influence to be with the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). As an advisor to SNCC members who were generations younger, she rarely intervened, although her advice was often sought. 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.

For more Information

If you have questions about the Ella Baker Program, please contact:  [email protected] 

Last modified 

January 5, 2024