Location

Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Santa Ana Offices

Department

Advocacy

Deadline date

Rolling

ACLU SoCal Advocacy Internships, Externships, & Volunteer Opportunities

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) is currently accepting applications for interns, externs, and volunteers to work in our Los Angeles, Orange County (Santa Ana), and Inland Empire (San Bernardino) offices. We are accepting internship applications from students at all academic levels, including high school students, undergraduates, law students, social work students, and other graduate students. We are also accepting applications for volunteers who are not currently enrolled in an academic program. People of color, women, people with disabilities, people over 55, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex are encouraged to apply. Please review the application instructions carefully.

About ACLU SoCal

The ACLU of Southern California comprises two organizations: The ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California (collectively "ACLU SoCal"). Founded in 1923, ACLU SoCal has been at the forefront of numerous major efforts for civil liberties, civil rights, and equal justice in California. ACLU SoCal tackles a vast array of issues, including criminal justice, First Amendment, gender equity, reproductive justice, LGBTQ rights, immigrants' rights, police practices, education equity, jails reform, and economic justice. ACLU SoCal has offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Inland Empire.

Internship/Externship Information

Interns will be assigned to a specific project/subject area. Please review the individual project group postings below for a more detailed description of their work and specific intern/volunteer needs.

ACLU SoCal is currently unable to pay stipends for interns or volunteers. Applicants 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 SoCal can serve as a work study host and will support students' applications for funding with supporting materials and documentation.

Summer Interns

We ask that students commit to no fewer than eight weeks and prefer ten-week commitments or longer (although exceptions may be made in certain circumstances). The office is open five days a week and successful applicants will work eight-hour days (with some occasional longer days depending on the project deadlines).

ACLU SoCal endeavors to make our summer internships as rewarding as possible. Each year, ACLU SoCal hosts eight to ten Brown Bag presentations that are open to interns from all local non-profits. Past guests include Ninth Circuit Judges the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt and the Honorable Alex Kozinski as well as UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who presented a Supreme Court Roundup. ACLU attorneys and advocates also host internal trainings for all interns on topics such as applying for clerkships, applying for fellowships, and interviewing clients to draft declarations. Although we have limited resources, our interns are invited to several social events as well.

Fall/Spring Interns

ACLU SoCal welcomes interns/externs in both the fall and spring semesters. The number hired varies depending upon the needs of staff. Students should be able to commit to a minimum of 10 hours each week during the semester (some of which occasionally may be performed out of the office).

Volunteers

ACLU SoCal also frequently accepts non-student volunteers who are both attorneys and non-attorneys. Volunteers should be able to commit to working at least 15 hours a week over eight weeks, in or out of the office, or the hourly equivalent over a shorter period of weeks. In addition to the information listed in the following section, please state in your application your intended hourly commitment and duration of volunteer service. 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 all application procedures described below. In addition, please include a list of references.

People who seek to volunteer less time can sign up on our website.

Application Procedures:

All applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and transcript (for current students) via email (internship@aclusocal.org) or U.S. mail (email is strongly preferred). In your subject line, please include the following information in square brackets, listed in order of preference: (1) your preferred subject area(s); (2) your geographic preference(s); and (3) the term for which you are applying. For example, "Subject: [First Am/Immigration] [OC/IE/LA] [Summer 2017]" or "Subject: [Jails] [LA/OC/IE] [Fall 2018]." We encourage applicants to indicate no more than one subject area preference, but you may also list more than one or "[General]" as your preferred subject areas if you do not have a particular interest.

We are more likely to hire candidates with geographic flexibility. We cannot guarantee applicants' preferences and we may offer you a position outside of your areas of interest or geographic preference depending on our needs.

We accept summer applications beginning September 1, or as soon as your school's rules allow. We make hiring decisions on a rolling basis, so applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Please note that due to the large number of applications we receive, we may be unable to answer each applicant personally or return submitted materials.

We accept Fall/Spring applications throughout the year.

Emailed (internship@aclusocal.org) applications are strongly preferred. However, items can be mailed to:

Internship Coordinator
ACLU Foundation of Southern California
1313 West Eighth St., Suite 200
Los Angeles, California 90017

 


Criminal Justice

The ACLU SoCal is currently accepting applications for interns who are interested in working on criminal justice issues.

Our office works closely with community partners to conduct impactful advocacy and litigation on a number of criminal justice issues in California.

We, through the affiliate's Jails Project (please see Jails Project's posting for more information), recently achieved a historic settlement in Rosas v. Baca, a federal class action lawsuit that alleged former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and his command staff condoned a long-standing and widespread pattern of violence by deputies against inmates in the jails. Under the settlement, the Sheriff's Department adopted a plan that includes implementation of robust policies to prevent abuse of inmates with mental illness, enhancement in training in use of force for all veteran deputies and new hires, as well as radically enhanced methods for tracking and review of use of force incidents and inmates' complaints and grievances. In another lawsuit, McKibben v. McMahon, we challenged the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's disparate treatment of gay, bisexual, and transgender inmates housed in the West Valley Detention Center's "Alternative Lifestyle Tank," where they are denied equal time out of cell and access to religious, educational, rehabilitative, and vocational programming and are regularly subject to harassment by deputies and custody specialists.

Beyond our litigation, we are actively involved in community engagement and policy advocacy at the local and state level on a broad array of criminal justice issues. We played an integral role in passing Proposition 47, which reclassified six drug and property felonies to misdemeanors and redirected state savings into treatment and prevention. We have since focused on protecting the win from legislation that would erode Prop 47 and on monitoring local implementation. Over multiple years, we've led Local Elections Campaigns, where we provide voter and candidate education opportunities in target counties relating to the District Attorney and Sheriff races. Other community engagement and policy advocacy priorities include civil asset forfeiture reform; alternatives to incarceration, including bail reform and mental health diversion; and jails conditions.

Our legal interns will have an opportunity to conduct legal research, drafting, and analysis for our ongoing litigation and policy projects. Legal interns also will assist in public education, community engagement, advocacy, legislation, and monitoring efforts.

Our policy advocate interns will have the opportunity to work on active campaigns, develop public education materials, give know your rights presentations to community members, attend coalition meetings, conduct research, drafting, and data analysis for policy letters and reports and assist in public education, community engagement, advocacy, legislation, and monitoring efforts.

For more information on opportunities to intern in the Jails Project, please see the Jails Project posting below.

Undergrads, law school students, students in other academic programs, and non-students are encouraged to apply. We are seeking interns for our Los Angeles, Orange County and Inland Empire offices year round.

 


Economic Justice

ACLU SoCal is currently accepting applications for interns who are interested in working on economic justice issues. Our economic justice work falls in three main areas: access to the courts; workers' rights; and access to the social safety net, with a particular focus on protecting the rights of the homeless. Our office has been at the forefront of litigation and advocacy on a growing number of economic justice issues in California.

For example, in Victor Valley Family Resource Center v. City of Hesperia, we are challenging the City of Hesperia's attempts to unlawfully restrict housing and support services for individuals with criminal records in violation of state law and the federal constitution.

In Glover v. City of Laguna Beach, we are challenging Laguna Beach's criminalization and harassment of homeless persons, as well as its lack of resources for the homeless, as violating the ADA, the Eighth Amendment and due process.

In Santiago v. Los Angeles, we are challenging the LAPD's policy and practice of seizing and destroying street vendors' property as violating the Fourth Amendment and due process.

In addition to this ongoing litigation, our office is actively engaged in community engagement and policy advocacy at the local and state level on a broad array of economic justice issues, including: bail reform; civil asset forfeiture reform; court fines and fees reform; legalization of street vending in Los Angeles; the Maximum Family Grant repeal; the right to paid sick days; and low-income housing.

Our legal interns will have an opportunity to conduct legal research, drafting, and analysis for our ongoing litigation and policy projects. Legal interns also will assist in public education, community engagement, advocacy, legislation, and monitoring efforts.

Our non-legal interns will have the opportunity to work on active campaigns, develop public education materials, give know your rights presentations to community members, attend coalition meetings, and perform drafting and data analysis for our reports.

Undergrads, law school students, and students in other academic programs are encouraged to apply. We are seeking interns for our Orange County, Inland Empire and Los Angeles offices for the summer, fall, and spring academic terms.

 


Education, Student Rights & Juvenile Justice

The ACLU SoCal is currently accepting applications for interns who are interested in working on education, student rights, and juvenile justice issues.

Our office has been at the forefront of litigation and advocacy on a number of education and student rights issues in California.

For example, in Reed v. State of California, we filed a class action lawsuit against the State of California and Los Angeles Unified School District to enjoin budget-based layoffs at three Los Angeles middle schools because they denied students their fundamental right under the California constitution to equal educational opportunity.

In DJ v. State of California, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents, students, and a former administrator against the State of California for its failure to respond to reports that school districts did not provide essential language instruction to English learner students.

Most recently, in Cruz v. State of California, we filed a class action lawsuit against the State of California for failing to address the factors that reduce actual student learning time, denying students at low-income schools an equal education.

Beyond our litigation, we are also actively involved in community advocacy and legislative efforts to shape education policy. For example, we currently are a leader in overseeing the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, which is the new way school districts receive funding in California. We also are involved in a wide variety of student discipline and campus police issues, including leading a campaign to remove LAUSD's random student metal detector policy and writing reports about school policies and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Our legal interns will conduct legal research, drafting, and analysis for our ongoing litigation and policy projects. In previous years, our interns met with teachers and students to draft declarations, assisted in drafting legal briefs, and helped our attorneys prepare for depositions. Legal interns also assist in public education efforts by drafting know-your-rights materials and helping conduct presentations.

Our non-legal interns will participate in community engagement, policy advocacy, workshop development and presentation, campaign development, and coalition building. The internship will mainly focus on campaign support, issue-based projects, reports, and intakes.

Undergrads, law school students, and students in other academic programs are encouraged to apply; however, you need not be enrolled in a higher education program. We are seeking interns for both our Los Angeles and Inland Empire offices for the summer, fall, and spring academic terms.

 


First Amendment

The ACLU SoCal is currently accepting applications for interns who are interested in working on First Amendment and government transparency issues. We do First Amendment work on issues relating to freedom of speech, and freedom of conscience and belief and we also work on various Public Records Act issues in an effort to enable the public to learn about how the its government is working and hold it accountable. Here is a sample of our First Amendment and government transparency cases.

In Rosebrock v. Beiter, we challenged a practice by the VA in Los Angeles of allowing people to hang American flags on the perimeter fence of the VA campus, while forbidding our client to hang an American flag upside as a form of protest of the misuse of VA land.

In Davies v. County of Los Angeles, we represented a diverse group of religious leaders and educators challenging the decision by the County to add a Latin Cross to the County seal and succeeded in obtaining a permanent injunction.

In ACLU/Preven v. Los Angeles, we are litigating under the California Public Records Act whether the County can withhold billing records showing how much it is paying private lawyers hired to defend the County and the Sheriff's Department in numerous suits challenging excessive force and other illegal acts by the Department. The case is currently pending in the California Supreme Court.

In addition to litigation, we attempt to protect the First Amendment and further government transparency through developing "Know Your Rights" material and attempting to resolve what we perceive to be First Amendment and other violations through advocacy short of litigation.

Our legal interns will have an opportunity to conduct legal research, drafting, and analysis for our ongoing litigation and policy projects. Legal interns may also assist in public education, community engagement, advocacy, legislation, and monitoring efforts.

Law school students interested in this work are encouraged to apply. We are seeking interns for our Los Angeles and Orange County offices for the summer, fall, and spring academic terms.

 


Immigrants' Rights

ACLU SoCal's Immigrants' Rights Project accepts applications for internships on a rolling basis. Our office has been at the forefront of litigation and advocacy on a number of immigrants' rights issues. We are currently focused on three main areas: access to counsel, immigration detention, and immigration enforcement.

Our access to counsel work focuses on ensuring that no one can be deported without legal assistance and a fair hearing. J.E.F.M. v. Holder challenges the government's failure to provide appointed counsel to pro se children facing deportation. In the landmark victory in our Franco-Gonzalez v. Holder case, the Court established basic protections for immigrants with mental disabilities, including the right to appointed counsel and the right to robust competency determination procedures. We are also actively engaged in advocacy efforts regarding public funding for immigration counsel.

Our immigration detention work ensures that detained immigrants are guaranteed their basic due process rights. Jennings v. Rodriguez challenges the government's policy of detaining immigrants for prolonged periods without providing them a bond hearing and it is currently being litigated in the U.S. Supreme Court. In Hernandez v. Lynch, we seek to require the government to consider immigrants' ability to pay a bond and non-monetary alternatives in setting conditions of release. We also regularly monitor conditions in immigration detention facilities, provide individual legal assistance where possible, and advocate to reform immigration detention.

We currently are a leader in efforts to stop the entanglement of immigration and local law enforcement. We strive to ensure that law enforcement agencies do not unlawfully engage in immigration enforcement and that all individuals have equal access to immigration benefits and are not treated in a discriminatory manner. Through two class actions, Roy v. Los Angeles County and Gonzalez v. ICE, we are challenging the Los Angeles Sheriff's and ICE's practice of detaining people on immigration detainers and extending their detentions in violation of the Fourth Amendment. We are also challenging the government's discriminatory practices in unlawfully delaying and denying the immigration benefit applications of many Muslim individuals, under a covert program known as CARRP. See http://www.aclusocal.org/CARRP.

Our legal interns will have an opportunity to conduct legal research, drafting, and analysis for our ongoing litigation and policy projects. Legal interns also will assist in public education, community engagement, advocacy, legislation, and monitoring efforts.

Our non-legal interns will have the opportunity to work on active campaigns, develop public education materials, assist with know your rights presentations to community members, attend coalition meetings, and perform drafting and data analysis for our reports.

Undergrads, law school students, and students in other academic programs are encouraged to apply. We are seeking interns for our Inland Empire, Los Angeles, and Orange County offices for the summer, fall, and spring academic terms. Preference for students with Spanish or other foreign language proficiency.

 


Jails Project

The ACLU SoCal is soliciting applications from individuals interested in working on the Jails Project. The ACLU SoCal is the court-ordered monitor of conditions of confinement and medical services within all Los Angeles County jail facilities, which is known to be the largest jail system in the nation.

"Conditions" refers to beds, change of clothing, food meals, LGBTQIA inmate classification, recreation, showers, telephones, overcrowding, indigent kits, commissary, protective custody, religious services, mail, allegations of violence and retaliation and other similar issues that may arise."

Through advocacy, public education and litigation, we work to ensure that a basic standard of care is provided to inmates. We also work to decrease our community's overreliance on mass incarceration by advocating for alternatives to incarceration and discharge planning to help reduce recidivism.

This is a great learning opportunity for any student thinking about a career in law or public service, advocating for the justice-involved community and wanting experience in providing individual assistance to inmates regarding human rights and condition issues in the LA County Jails. All, regardless of background, are welcome to apply.

The Project is broken down into two teams: Intake and Legal.

Those who are assigned to our Intake Team (typically made up of undergraduates) will spend most of their time assisting with:

  • screening written and telephone requests by inmates and family members for aid regarding conditions, medical access, mental health access, amongst others in the LA County Jails and
  • assisting the Director of Jails with sorting, analyzing and inputting responses received from the LA Sheriff's Department as a means to ensure they meet legal requirements and standards

Those who are assigned to our Legal Team (typically made up of law students) will spend most of their time:

  • speaking to inmates in the LA County Jails' attorney/visiting rooms to discuss their respective situations and
  • drafting and gathering declarations/narratives in support of acting and ongoing lawsuits and issues, such as
  • Allegations of violence
  • Medical/Mental Health Care
  • Women-specific, e.g. access to abortion
  • Properia (pro per/pro se)
  • American Disabilities Act
  • Gay/Transgender
  • Access to religious services

All students in the Legal Team will undergo an LASD background clearance process. We will need applicant's full name, date of birth and driver's license (if not CA, please indicate state). Those who speak, read and write Spanish fluently would be especially helpful, but any second language can be useful.

We are seeking interns for our Los Angeles office.

 


LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project

Since early in our affiliate's history, protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and those with HIV/AIDS has been at the forefront of our litigation, legislative and advocacy efforts. Recently, we have expanded our advocacy capacity in the areas of LGBTQ rights, reproductive justice and gender equity, creating a project dedicated to these issues. In the area of LGBTQ rights, the project works to protect and expand the rights of the LGBTQ community and those with HIV/AIDS from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. We accomplish this work through strategic and impactful legal advocacy, litigation, policy advocacy, public education and community organizing to enforce existing legal protections and create new ones.

Our LGBTQ Rights work includes litigation when necessary, as well as ensuring strict enforcement of the laws designed to protect members of the LGBTQ community and those with HIV/AIDS. Our current priorities include student rights, the rights of transgender people and the treatment of LGBTQ people in the criminal justice and immigration systems.

In the areas of reproductive justice and gender equity we work to protect and expand the rights of all women and teens to make informed personal decisions about childbearing, to access affordable and confidential reproductive and sexual health care, to achieve equality and be free from discrimination in school, the workplace and in government settings. Our current priorities include confidential health care rights, the rights of pregnant and parenting workers, access to health care for incarcerated women, comprehensive sex education and sex discrimination in sectors traditionally dominated by men.

Law student interns who work in the LGBTQ, Gender and Reproductive Justice Project will have an opportunity to conduct legal research and policy analysis for ongoing litigation and policy projects, litigation and policy projects in development, and engage in advocacy and public education. Legal interns will also have the opportunity to interview potential clients to assist the attorneys with assessing the merits of their cases, and to assist in public education efforts by helping to draft know-your-rights materials and potentially helping conduct "Know Your Rights" presentations.

Our non-legal interns will have the opportunity to be trained and develop the skill-set around key programming and initiatives including community engagement, policy advocacy, workshop development and presentation, campaign development, and coalition building. This is a dynamic opportunity to be involved with various events and action-oriented assignments, as well as more scholarly assignments. The main focus of the internship will be on providing support to campaigns, issue-based projects, and intakes.

Undergrads, law school students, and students in other academic programs are encouraged to apply. We are seeking interns for our Los Angeles office for the summer, fall, and spring academic terms.

 


National Security

The ACLU of Southern California is currently accepting applications for legal interns interested in assisting the office's national security and anti-Muslim discrimination work.

This office has long been a leader in advocating for rights protection in the national security sphere. Through a focus on national security policy, counterterrorism policing, race and religious discrimination, surveillance practices, and related human rights issues, the ACLU of Southern California is committed to challenging federal, state, and local government’s efforts to restrict and control individuals’ and communities’ human rights in purported pursuit of national security.

To that end, this office has litigated a number of key cases seeking to vindicate the rights of Muslim American and other AMEMSA communities ensnared in the national security apparatus. For instance, in Fazaga v. FBI, we filed a federal class action law suit against the Federal Bureau of Investigations for infiltrating mainstream mosques in Southern California and targeting Muslim Americans for surveillance because of their religion. In Hamdan v. Department of Justice, our office filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking information about the United States' role in the detention and torture of Naji Hamdan, a US citizen, in the United Arab Emirates. Most recently, in Vayeghan v. Kelly, the ACLU of Southern California successfully represented an Iranian citizen with a valid visa denied entry to the United States following implementation of President Trump's Muslim ban.

Our legal interns will have an opportunity to conduct legal research, drafting, and analysis for our ongoing litigation and policy projects in the national security context. Legal interns also will assist in public education, community engagement, advocacy, and legislative efforts. We are seeking interns for our Los Angeles office for the summer, fall, and spring academic terms.

 


Police Practices

The ACLU SoCal is currently accepting applications for interns who are interested in working with the Police Practices Project.

Our office has been on at the forefront of litigation and advocacy on a number of policing issues in California, including advocacy and litigation concerning the use of force, racial and identity profiling, civilian oversight and transparency, surveillance, counterterrorism, and police infringement on First Amendment rights.

For example, in Vasquez v. Rackauckas, we filed a due process challenge to the enforcement of a gang injunction by the Orange County District Attorney and the City of Orange Police Department, arguing that individuals should not be subjected to a gang injunction just because police and prosecutors decide that they are gang members, but that they should have basic due process rights—including access to the evidence against them and an opportunity to present their side of the story.

In Fazaga v. FBI, we filed a federal class action law suit against the Federal Bureau of Investigations for infiltrating mainstream mosques in Southern California and targeting Muslim Americans for surveillance because of their religion.

In ACLU of Southern California & Electronic Frontier Foundation v. LAPD & LASD, we are challenging the agencies' refusal to disclose records about the use of Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) systems—sophisticated cameras mounted on squad cars and street poles that read license plates and record the time, date, and location a particular car was encountered—under the Public Records Act.

Beyond our litigation, we are also actively involved in community advocacy and legislative efforts to shape policing policy. For example, we currently are a leader in overseeing the implementation of the Racial and Identity Profiling Act, which changed how California defines "racial profiling" to be more inclusive and expansive, and created the requirement for law enforcement agencies to track and report demographic data for all individuals they stop, including pedestrians. We are also actively engaged in advocacy with municipalities and law enforcement agencies on shaping policies to govern the use of new surveillance technologies, such as body-worn cameras.

Our legal interns will have an opportunity to conduct legal research, drafting, and analysis for our ongoing litigation and policy projects. In previous years, our interns have met with community members and advocates to draft declarations, assisted in the drafting of legal briefs, and helped our attorneys prepare for depositions. Legal interns also will assist in public education efforts by drafting know-your-rights materials and helping to conduct presentations.

Our non-legal interns will have the opportunity to work on active campaigns, develop public education materials, give know-your-rights presentations to community members, attend coalition meetings, and perform drafting and data analysis for our reports.

Undergrads, law school students, and students in other academic programs are encouraged to apply. We are seeking interns for our Los Angeles, Orange County, and Inland Empire offices for the summer, fall, and spring academic terms.

 


Legal Intake

The ACLU SoCal has periodic openings for Interns and Volunteers who, primarily, conduct pre-screening interviews on the telephone and review written requests for legal services. Volunteers and Interns will encounter a wide breadth of legal and social issues from potential clients who have various factual circumstances and communication styles. Interested participants will, necessarily, need to extract certain types of information in an efficient and customer-friendly manner. Relevant information must then be reduced into a stylized record of the interview or review and entered into a data bank system. Other responsibilities include learning about and making appropriate referrals to other legal and social services. Participants receive a procedures manual, hands-on training, and other support throughout the experience.

No legal advice is given through intake, but appropriate cases are referred to the ACLU SoCal's legal staff via a chain of supervisory reviews. Cases that are not within the ACLU SoCal's guidelines are referred to other nonprofit agencies and community resources for possible help.

Throughout the history of the program, many student interns have gone on to law school and other professional education experiences. Likewise, many of our retirees and other volunteers have remained with the program for many years. The experience is a great resume builder, as well as an engaging and continuous learning experience.

We are seeking interns for our Los Angeles office.

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