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’s office in NYC. The internship was remote during the summer of 2020 and Center staff continue to work from home at the current time. Due to the COVID19 pandemic we do not yet know whether the summer of 2021 will be remote or in-person, that decision will be made by Center for Constitutional Rights management based on what is safe for staff, interns and the larger community. That said, we certainly hope to be in-person again for 2021. Regardless, interns will work under the direct supervision of Center 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 & writing for domestic and international litigation, factual investigation, client & witness interviews, policy/legislative research, and participation in client and community meetings. In addition, interns are provided opportunities to attend court proceedings, community and client meetings, and law related panels and 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, gender and LGBTI justice domestically and internationally. Interns also have the opportunity to work on various advocacy campaigns. Interns at the Center for Constitutional Rights experience the unique opportunities and challenges of doing social justice lawyering at a national organization.
The internship will begin on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 and end on August 13, 2021. Interns are expected to work 40 hours per week.
Students must have completed their first year of law school by summer 2021. 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 at a lower amount than the Center, we will provide you with summer funding or will supplement your school’s funding. For the 2021 summer, the stipend amount is $7500. Accepted students will receive more information about this process after receiving notice of their acceptance. This funding is taxable income, subject to all federal, state and local withholdings and deductions. The Center for Constitutional Rights also provides up to $1000 in relocation funding for students who live outside the New York City area.
Application Deadlines and Timeline
The application process opens for 2Ls on September 15, 2020 and closes on October 19, 2020 at midnight ET.
The Ella Baker Internship program is primarily staffed by 2Ls, but we do sometimes hire exceptional 1L applicants. Please note, in 2020 we did not interview or hire any 1Ls. We will not make a decision about 1L hiring until the 2L process is complete. If we do hire ILs for 2021, applicants may upload their applications between December 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020. 1L applications uploaded before or after this period will not be considered.
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-2021-summer-internship-application/ Please note, we will not accept applications before September 15 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”:
- Cover Letter
- Three references with contact information
If granted an interview, applicants may also be asked to submit a short legal writing sample.
After receipt of application materials, interviews will be offered to some applicants and may be via videoconference or over the phone.
Interviews for 2L applicants will be held from early to mid-November, 2020, and 2L students will be informed by early December if they are selected. Interviews for 1L applicants, if any, will be held in late January 2021, 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: