Ella Baker Summer Internship 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

Interns work under the direct supervision of CCR attorneys and advocacy program managers on CCR cases and projects. Interns also participate in trainings on litigation skills, movement lawyering, and other relevant topics. Interns’ responsibilities may include: legal research and writing for domestic and international litigation, factual investigation, client and 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, and attend other law related panels and events.

Ella Baker interns work at the Center for Constitutional Rights office in NYC. 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, and gender and LGBTQIA+ justice domestically and internationally. Students also have the opportunity to work on various advocacy campaigns. Students at the Center for Constitutional Rights experience the unique opportunities and challenges of doing social justice lawyering at a national organization.

Program Dates

The internship will begin on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 and end on August 7, 2020. Interns are expected to work 40 hours per week.

Intern Qualifications

Students must have completed their first year of law school by summer 2020. The Center for Constitutional Rights does not accept law graduates in the Ella Baker program.

Excellent legal research and communication skills.

Experience and/or a demonstrated commitment to racial justice, gender justice, civil rights, international human rights, national security law, and/or social justice organizing.


Because we have limited resources, the Center for Constitutional Rights 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 of less than $6000, the Center for Constitutional Rights will provide you with summer funding or will supplement your school’s funding. Accepted students will receive more information about this process after receiving notice of their acceptance. The Center for Constitutional Rightsis also looking into creating a relocation fund for students who live outside the New York City area.   

Application Deadlines and Timeline

The application period for 2Ls seeking a 2020 summer internship is now closed.   

Unfortunately, we will not be hiring any 1Ls for the Summer of 2020. We encourage potential 1L applicants to consider applying in their 2L year.  

We will be accepting applications from students seeking a 2021 internship in the fall of 2020.

Application Instructions

The Application period for all 2020 summer interns is now closed. 
Candidates for a 2021 summer internship will be able to complete an online application here in the fall of 2020.  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.

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 1940s 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.

More Information

If you have specific questions about the Ella Baker Program, please contact:


Last modified 

November 26, 2019