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Volunteer Internship Opportunities

Section Descriptions

Appellate Section (APP)

The Appellate Section represents the United States in both civil and criminal civil rights cases in the federal courts of appeals. Many of the Section's cases are appeals from district court judgments in cases originally handled by the Division's trial sections, and the Section works cooperatively with the trial sections in those cases. The Appellate Section also monitors federal civil rights cases in which the United States is not a party. If a private case involves developing or problematic areas of civil rights law or involves an issue that may significantly affect the Division's enforcement responsibilities, the Section may file a brief as amicus curiae setting forth the government's position. In addition, the Section works with the Solicitor General's Office in developing the government's position in Supreme Court cases involving civil rights issues. The Section also provides legal counsel to other components of the Division and of the Department on issues affecting civil rights enforcement.

The Section will hire at least one or two volunteer interns for summer 2013. Rising second and third-year law students who can commit to working full-time for a minimum of eight weeks are eligible to apply. The Section is interested in candidates who have excellent research and writing and skills; a demonstrated commitment to the enforcement of civil rights laws; a strong interest in appellate litigation; and the ability to work independently. Among other things, volunteer interns may be asked to (1) conduct legal research and draft memoranda on constitutional, civil rights, and general litigation issues; (2) help attorneys prepare for oral arguments, including participating in moot courts; (3) research and compile legislative histories; and (4) help proofread and cite-check appellate briefs and prepare record materials to be filed in court. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until February 1, 2013.

Criminal Section (CRM)

The Criminal Section prosecutes criminal civil rights violations, most notably charges of official misconduct; hate crimes; and involuntary servitude and human trafficking. Interns in our Section conduct research and provide written memoranda, primarily on substantive civil rights, evidentiary, or procedural criminal law issues. Interns occasionally also provide first drafts of federal criminal trial pleadings. The position is unpaid and we prefer interns to work 16-40 hours per week, for an average of 10 weeks. Applicants should have strong legal research and writing skills. A demonstrated interest or experience in criminal law is a significant plus, but not an absolute requirement. The CRM will be hiring up to eight volunteer interns for the Summer 2013 term. Applications should be submitted by December 31, 2012.

Disability Rights Section (DRS)

The Disability Rights Section (DRS) is specifically charged with enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.

The volunteer legal intern position involves assisting DRS in investigating allegations of discrimination against individuals with disabilities in violation of title I, title II, and title III of the ADA. Also, the legal intern will be responsible for conducting legal research, compiling data, reviewing documents, drafting letters, preparing legal memoranda and briefs. Our ideal candidate has strong legal research and writing skills, effective communication skills and a demonstrated commitment to civil rights. Experience in American Sign Language and a foreign language is desirable but not required. Also, experience in disability rights law and with minority, immigrant, women, LGBT, and other populations and communities affected by the Division's work is a plus. Please visit our website at www.ada.gov for more information about our section. The Disability Rights Section accepts interns for every semester of the academic year, as well as the summer.

Applications are considered on a rolling basis so interested candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. The position is unpaid. For spring and fall internships, we prefer that the student work for a minimum of 15 hours per week for a 10 week period. For a summer internship, we prefer that the student work 40 hours per week for at least a 10 week period. We are now considering applications for summer 2013 and fall 2013.

Educational Opportunities Section (EDO)

More than fifty years ago, in its landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court held that the intentional segregation of students on the basis of race in public schools violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Subsequent federal legislation and court decisions also mandate that school officials not discriminate against students on the basis of sex, national origin, language barrier, religion, or disabilities. The Educational Opportunities Section enforces these statutes and court decisions in a diverse array of cases involving elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. Student interns in the Section have the opportunity to review different types of education-related cases, assist attorneys in drafting pleadings and briefs relevant to those cases, and research substantive issues relating to federally proscribed discrimination in schools across the country. Interns receive assignments from different attorneys in the office in order that they may experience a variety of approaches to litigation. We typically ask that our volunteer interns during the school year work for a minimum of 15-20 hours in the office and for at least ten weeks. We ask that our interns during the summer work 40 hours per week for at least eight weeks. Interns must have strong legal research and writing skills. Our ideal candidate also has a demonstrated commitment to civil rights work with a particular emphasis on education. The EDO is currently accepting volunteer internship applications for summer 2013. The deadline for applications for is March 1, 2013. Applications may be considered on a rolling basis and internships may be filled prior to the deadline, so interested candidates are strongly encouraged to apply early.

Employment Litigation Section (ELS)

The Employment Litigation Section enforces against state and local government employers the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (“Title VII”), and other federal laws prohibiting employment practices that discriminate on grounds of race, sex, religion, and national origin. The Section also enforces against state and local government employers and private employers the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”) which prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employee or applicant for employment because of such person's past, current or future military obligation. The Employment Litigation Section occasionally has had law student volunteer interns during the fall and spring semesters, depending on the needs of the Section, and will consider having up to three volunteer interns this spring, and up to two volunteer interns this summer. In the past, volunteer interns have assisted in investigations and litigation under Title VII and USERRA, including completing legal research projects, reviewing and summarizing documents and depositions, drafting portions of briefs and memoranda, and preparing for witness interviews. The ideal candidate has strong legal research and writing skills, and an interest in employment discrimination work. The deadline for applications for fall 2011 is August 31, 2011, and the deadline for applications for spring 2012 is November 15, 2011. Applications may be considered on a rolling basis and internships may be filled prior to these deadlines, so interested candidates are strongly encouraged to apply early.

Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS)

The Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS) (formerly Coordination and Review Section) is entrusted with enforcing numerous federal laws, regulations, and executive orders, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Safe Streets Act of 1968, and Executive Orders 12250 and 13166, which collectively protect persons seeking to benefit from federally funded programs, activities, and services from discrimination based on race, color, national origin (including language), religion, and sex. FCS investigates and resolves administrative complaints against Department of Justice recipients, including law enforcement agencies, detention facilities and courts, pursuant to Title VI and the Safe Streets Act. Legal interns occasionally have the opportunity to assist with investigations, including on-site witness interviews, conducting document reviews, writing document requests, and participating in negotiations. Legal interns assist with legal research and writing projects related to ongoing investigations and litigation, federal agency coordination, and technical assistance. They may assist with training presentations for federal agencies and recipients. As part of FCS’s coordinating responsibilities, we work closely with the civil rights offices of numerous federal agencies to ensure a uniform application of civil rights laws. FCS attorneys and legal interns develop close working relationships and interns are assigned an attorney mentor upon their arrival. The ideal candidate will show a demonstrated commitment to civil rights law and possess strong research, analytical, and writing skills. FCS is also seeking candidates with fluency in a second language and/or experience with civil rights issues relating to race or national origin, and/or, more specifically, language access or environmental justice. We also seek candidates who are familiar with other federal agencies' Title VI programs or Department of Justice funding recipients including courts, law enforcement, corrections, and prosecutorial agencies. Such knowledge or experience, however, is not required.

FCS is seeking 3-4 interns for upcoming semesters. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until positions are filled.

Housing and Civil Enforcement Section

The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section (HCE) enforces: the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibits discrimination in credit, Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in certain places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and theaters, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which prohibits local governments from adopting or enforcing land use regulations that discriminate against religious assemblies and institutions or which unjustifiably burden religious exercise, and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides for the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and civil protections in areas such as housing, credit and taxes for military personnel while they are on active duty. Legal interns have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in investigating and litigating civil rights cases under the diverse array of laws that HCE enforces. In the past, legal interns have performed a wide variety of tasks, including interviewing witnesses, researching legal issues, participating in trial strategy sessions, reviewing documents, attending mediations, and drafting memoranda, complaints, motions, and briefs under the supervision of attorneys. Interns are assigned an attorney-mentor, and they also work closely with the attorneys for whom they complete assignments.

The ideal candidate demonstrates a deep commitment to civil rights and has strong legal writing and research skills. To apply, please submit a resume, a transcript (unofficial is fine), a brief writing sample (5-10 pages), and a cover letter including (1) the time period you are available to work and (2) a statement of interest. HCE accepts interns for every semester of the academic year, and we prefer applicants who can commit at least 20 hours per week for twelve weeks during each academic semester. HCE accepts interns during the summer, and we ask that applicants for summer internships commit 40 hours per week for a minimum of ten weeks. Applications are considered on a rolling basis, so interested candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. HCE is currently accepting applications for Summer 2013.

Office of Special Counsel (OSC)

The OSC is a small office that enforces a federal statute to protect U.S. citizens and work-authorized immigrants from immigration-related discrimination in employment. The student volunteer position involves assisting OSC in litigating, investigating allegations of discrimination, such as conducting legal research, reviewing documents, compiling data, drafting letters, preparing legal memoranda, and sitting in on and/or conducting witness interviews, as well as policy-related work, such as preparing comments on proposed regulations and draft legislation, and attending interagency meetings. The position is unpaid and we prefer that the student work full-time for a duration of at least ten weeks. Our ideal candidate has strong research, writing and communication skills as well as an interest in learning. Demonstrated interest or experience in immigration or employment discrimination is a plus, but not required. OSC is currently accepting applications for summer 2013. The deadline for summer applications is February 1, 2013.

Policy and Strategy Section (POL)

The Division's Policy and Strategy Section is a newly established section that supports and coordinates the Division’s legislative, policy, regulatory, guidance and human rights programs, working with the Division’s other sections to generate proactive policy development and legislative proposals. The Section reviews and/or prepares legislative proposals, testimony, and reports to be presented to Congress, and drafts and/or coordinates responses to requests from Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and other federal agencies on pending and proposed legislation. The Section also reviews and recommends regulations, executive orders, reports on compliance with international human rights treaties, and, working with the Division’s sections, supports the development of civil rights policy across the range of areas covered by the Division’s jurisdiction, including the preparation or commissioning of policy white papers and conferences. Interns will assist attorneys and public policy professionals in all of these areas, and may assist attorneys in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General with legal research related to special projects.

The Policy and Strategy Section accepts applications from law students, public policy graduate students, and undergraduate students. We prefer that interns be available to work full-time, or at least 32 hours per week, for a minimum of 8 weeks. Applications for fall 2012 are being accepted now on a rolling basis. The section is accepting internship applications on a rolling basis for summer 2012 from public policy graduate students and joint policy/law students who have completed at least one semester of their policy school requirements. The section's summer law internship positions have been filled.

Professional Development Office (PDO)

The Professional Development Office (PDO) is the Civil Rights Division's training office. We develop training programs for attorneys and other staff in a number of areas, including electronic discovery issues, advocacy skills, and litigation practice. We are seeking one or two law students to assist with a wide array of legal research projects, primarily related to electronic discovery. You may be asked to help develop training materials for Civil Rights Division lawyers and to assist with other training programs hosted by the PDO. Strong research and writing skills are essential. You must commit to work for a minimum of 16 hours per week for at least six weeks. To apply, please submit a resume, a transcript (unofficial is fine), a brief writing sample (no more than 5 pages), and a cover letter including (1) the time period you are available to work and (2) why you believe your education or experience makes you a good candidate for this position. Applications are due by November 1, 2011 for spring 2012, March 1, 2012 for summer 2012 and June 1, 2012 for fall 2012.

Special Litigation Section (SPL)

The Special Litigation Section seeks interns for volunteer internships. For fall and spring, a time commitment of at least eight hours per week is preferred.

The Special Litigation Section is an office within the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, charged primarily with enforcing federal civil rights statutes concerning the civil rights of institutionalized persons and the conduct of law enforcement agencies. The two main statutes that the Section enforces are the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act ("CRIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997a, and the police misconduct provision of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141 ("Section 14141"). CRIPA authorizes the Attorney General to conduct investigations and litigation relating to conditions of confinement in state or locally operated institutions (the statute does not cover private facilities). Under CRIPA, the Section investigates covered facilities to determine whether there is a pattern or practice of violations of residents' federal rights (the Section is not authorized to represent individuals or to address specific individual cases). Section 14141 authorizes the Attorney General to file lawsuits seeking court orders to reform police departments engaging in a pattern or practice of violating citizens' federal rights. The Section also enforces the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), 18 U.S.C. § 248, and certain aspects of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000. The Special Litigation Section's website, http://www.justice.gov/crt/split/, provides additional information about the Section's work.

Assignments for interns may include conducting legal and factual research, witness interviews, and assisting attorneys in conducting preliminary inquiries, investigations, litigation, or monitoring. The intern position is not compensated. The SPL will be hiring nine to ten spring 2012 interns. Applications are due by November 1, 2011.

Voting Section (VOT)

The Voting Section has enforcement responsibility for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, the Help America Vote Act of 2002, and certain civil provisions of the Civil Rights Acts that relate to voting. To carry out its mission, the Section brings lawsuits against states, counties, cities, and other jurisdictions to remedy denials and abridgements of the right to vote. The student volunteer will assist by conducting legal and factual research regarding ongoing administrative reviews, investigations and litigation as well as other general research. The position is unpaid and we prefer that the student work for a minimum of 20 hours per week for a duration of at least eight weeks. Demonstrated interest or experience in voting rights work and/or fluency in one of the languages covered by the Voting Rights Act will be considered a plus, but not required. The Voting Section accepts interns for every semester of the academic year, as well as the summer. Applications are considered on a rolling basis so interested candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

General Information Office of the Assistant Attorney General
 
Leadership
Molly J. Moran
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Contact
Civil Rights Division
(202) 514-4609
Telephone Device for the Deaf (TTY) (202) 514-0716
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