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
Most summers all Ella Baker interns work at the Center for Constitutional Rights’ office in NYC. The internship was fully remote during the summer of 2020 and was remote but with a 3-day in-person gathering the summer of 2021. Center for Constitutional Rights staff continue to mostly work from home at the current time, with plans to slowly return to the office (if safety allows) during the fall and winter of 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we do not yet know whether the summer of 2022 will be remote or in-person. That decision will be made by Center for Constitutional Rights management, likely a couple of months before the 2022 summer program start date, based on what is safe for staff, interns, and the larger community. That said, we certainly hope to be in-person for 2022. Regardless, interns will work under the direct supervision of Center for Constitutional Rights attorneys and advocacy program managers on our 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. 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, immigrants’ rights, U.S. detention and targeted killing practices, universal jurisdiction over international human rights abuses, and gender and LGBTQIA+ justice domestically and internationally. Interns also have the opportunity to work on various advocacy campaigns.
The internship will begin on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, and end on Friday, August 12, 2022. Ella Baker interns are expected to work 40 hours per week.
Students must have completed their first year of law school by summer 2022. The Center for Constitutional Rights 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, 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 at a lower amount than the Center for Constitutional Rights, we will provide you with summer funding or will supplement your school’s funding. Last year the Center for Constitutional Rights funded internships up to $7500/summer. Accepted students will receive more information about this process after receiving notice of their acceptance. The Center for Constitutional Rights 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 September 14, 2021, and closes on October 19, 2021, at midnight ET. During this period, candidates will be able to complete an online application on the Center for Constitutional Rights website (ccrjustice.org) or at the link: https://ellabakerccr.wufoo.com/forms/ella-baker-2022-summer-internship-application/. Please note, we will not accept applications before September 14 or after October 19. Once the website link is live, students will be prompted to upload the following documents as a single PDF, named “Doe, Jane Application”:
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, but we do sometimes hire exceptional 1Ls. Please note, in 2020 and 2021 we did not interview or hire any 1Ls. We will make a decision about 1L hiring after the 2L process is complete. If we do hire 1Ls for 2022, applicants may upload their applications between December 1, 2021, and December 30, 2021. 1L applications uploaded before or after this period will not be considered.
After receipt of application materials, interviews will be offered to some applicants. All interviews will be conducted via videoconference.
Interviews for 2L applicants will be held from early to mid-November, 2021, and 2L students will be informed by early December if they are selected. Interviews for 1L applicants (should they occur) will be held in late January 2022, and 1L students will be informed if they were selected by early February.
Why is the Internship Named After Ella Baker?
Ella Baker devoted her 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 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: