Legal Internships, Externships & Volunteer Opportunities

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) accepts applications for interns, externs and volunteers to work at both our Los Angeles and Orange County offices. People of color, women, people with disabilities, people over 55 and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex are encouraged to apply.

Law Students

ACLU SoCal law clerks gain experience in the full range of civil liberties and constitutional rights cases. Students are involved in research and preparation of legal memoranda, fact investigations, client and witness interviews, discovery, pre-trial motions, handling of expert witnesses, as well as accompanying lawyers at court appearances and case development meetings.

ACLU SoCal has limited resources and is currently unable to pay stipends. Students are encouraged to apply for Public Interest Law Foundation grants or other grants and to investigate work-study options as alternative sources of compensation. The ACLU can serve as a work study host and will support students’ applications for funding with supporting materials and documentation.

ACLU SoCal’s Legal Department primarily works in the following areas, with attorneys dedicated to each area: conditions of confinement in Los Angeles County jails, educational equity, First Amendment, immigrants’ rights, LGBT rights, reproductive justice, gender equity, national security, police practices, privacy and racial justice.

Summer:  The Legal Department generally hires between 18 and 25 law clerks each summer depending upon the needs of staff attorneys and their ability to supervise and give substantive work to their clerks. We ask that law students commit to no fewer than eight weeks and prefer ten week (or longer) commitments (though exceptions may be made in certain circumstances). The office is open five days a week and successful applicants can expect to work eight hour days (with some longer days occasionally depending upon the work). Most clerks will work closely with one or two attorneys. When applying, know that unless you specifically identify a subject area of preference or apply to a specific project below, your application will be viewed by all attorneys seeking clerks – please fashion your application materials accordingly.

The six areas accepting dedicated Law Student applications are:

  • General Subject Internship (follow the application procedures below)
  • Orange County Office Internship
  • National Security and Immigrants’ Rights (Position filled for summer 2014)
  • Jails Project
  • LGBT Rights Project, Reproductive Justice and Gender Equity  (Position filled for summer 2014)

ACLU SoCal endeavors to make our summer internships as rewarding as possible. Each year the ACLU hosts eight to ten Brown Bag lunches to which interns from all the local non-profits are invited. Last year’s guests included Ninth Circuit Judges the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt and Chief Judge the Honorable Alex Kozinski, and a Supreme Court Roundup by Erwin Chemerinsky.  Each attorney also hosts a Brown Bag lunch on their particular subject area to which only our interns are invited. We have hosted trainings on specific subject areas. And though we have limited resources our interns are invited to several social events, as well.

This year, through the generosity of ACLU SoCal supporter Mrs. Rikiko Allen, we will be conducting the fourth annual Magnus Tomohiro Kubo-Allen Essay Competition, open to all our summer interns, which will culminate in the awarding of three $1,000 stipends.

Fall/Spring: The Legal Department welcomes law student externs in both the Fall and Spring Semesters. The number hired varies depending upon the needs of staff attorneys and their ability to supervise and provide substantive work to externs. Externships are open to all law students. Students should be able to commit to a minimum of 10 hours each week during the semester (some of which occasionally may be done out of the office). Usually externs are not assigned to particular subject areas, if you are interested in working with a particular attorney or in a particular area please note it in your cover letter and in the subject line of your cover email.

Graduate and Undergraduate Students

The Legal Department encourages non Law Students to apply for internships. Applications are accepted for both Summer and Fall/Spring internships. We ask that applicants commit to no fewer than 8 weeks and prefer 10 week or Semester/Quarter-long commitments. Applicants with particular interest in one of our subject areas should consider applying to work with an attorney in that area. Valuable contributions have been made by students from the fields of education, sociology, political science, and statistics among others.

Additionally, there are two areas within the Legal Department that particularly seek non-law students:

Attorneys

Volunteers

The Legal Department encourages attorneys to volunteer their time to ACLU SoCal. Volunteer attorneys should be able to commit to working at least 15 hours a week over eight weeks, in or out of the office or more hours over a shorter time period – when applying, please state how much time you can contribute and for what duration. Please understand that the nature of the work we do may not allow us to engage all who may be interested in contributing time. Please follow the application procedures below. In addition, please include a list of references.

Deferred Associates

The Legal Department is always interested in hosting deferred associates. We have welcomed several the last few years with periods ranging from two months to a year. If you are a recently hired associate and your firm places deferred attorneys with non-profit law firms consider speaking to them about working at ACLU SoCal. The deferred associates who have worked for us recently have done substantive work litigating cases under the supervision of our attorneys. Please follow the application procedures below. In addition, please include a list of references.

Pro bono

The Legal Department also seeks to establish new relationships with firms interested in providing pro bono assistance on our cases. If you or your firm are interested in donating time or co-counseling cases, please contact Peter Eliasberg, ACLU SoCal legal director.

Paralegals

The Legal Department welcomes applications from volunteer or intern paralegals to support the work of the legal department. Please follow the application procedures below – writing samples are not required. In your cover letter please let us know how many hours you can commit to and for what length of time.

General Interest Volunteers

If you are not a lawyer or law student there are still ways of getting involved in the Legal Department. The following departments gratefully accept volunteers:

Each have different minimum volunteer requirements and terms.

Application Procedure:

All applicants should email a cover letter, resume, and writing sample, and include the preferred subject area in your email subject line. Items may also be mailed or to the address listed below, but but email applications are preferred.

Summer applications are accepted beginning September 1st or as soon as your school’s rules allow. We will continue to accept applications until we are fully staffed. Those selected for interviews will be contacted; interviews may be conducted on the telephone for students living outside the Southern California area. Summer hiring decisions are made on a rolling basis. Most offers are made by January, though some may be made later in the Spring. Please note that due to the large number of resumes we receive, we are unable to answer each student personally or return writing samples submitted to us.

Extern applications are accepted throughout the year. Please note in the subject line the semester for which you are applying.

Emailed applications are preferred. However, items can be mailed to:
Christian Lebano
Internship Application
ACLU Foundation of Southern California
1313 West Eighth St., Suite 200
Los Angeles, California 90017

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