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
Interns work under the direct supervision of CCR attorneys and are given high-quality assignments and periodic feedback. 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' 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. In addition, students are provided opportunities to attend court proceedings, community and client meetings, view films about social justice issues, and attend other law related panels and events.
Ella Baker interns work at the Center for Constitutional Rights' office in NYC on cases in CCR's three docket areas: Government Misconduct/Racial Justice, Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative and International Human Rights. 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 staff on various advocacy campaigns. Students at CCR experience the unique opportunities and challenges of doing social justice lawyering at a national organization.
The internship will begin on Monday June 5, 2017 and end on August 11, 2017. Interns are expected to work 40 hours per week for a minimum of ten weeks.
- Students must have completed their first year or second year of law student by summer of 2017. CCR does not accept law graduates in the Ella Baker program.
- 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 of racial justice, gender justice, civil rights, international human rights, and/or national security law
Because we have limited resources, CCR strongly advises applicants to make every effort to secure their own summer funding. Possible sources include: your law school; local Bar Foundation; Equal Justice America, etc. However, if a student can demonstrate they diligently sought alternate funding but were ultimately unsuccessful, CCR will provide the student with a summer stipend. Accepted students will receive information on CCR sponsored stipends upon receiving notice of their acceptance.
Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2017 Ella Baker Summer Internship Program.
Why is the Internship Named After Ella Baker?
Ella Baker devoted her adult life to social change. During the Depression she organized consumer cooperatives and wrote, 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 the 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.
If you have specific questions about the Ella Baker Program, please contact
Center for Constitutional Rights
Senior Staff Attorney and Associate Director of Legal Training and Education