2020 Public Interest Legal Fellowship

DC Law Students in Court (LSIC) invites creative, driven, and client-centered rising third-year law students and recent law graduates with judicial clerkships to apply for an opportunity to partner with LSIC on public interest legal Fellowship applications. LSIC is interested in hosting a fellow for the two-year Skadden, two-year Equal Justice Works, 18-month Soros Justice, and other post-graduate fellowships to begin in the fall 2020 in LSIC’s Washington DC office. Applicants must secure funding for this position. In addition to pursuing national funding opportunities, we encourage students and graduates to contact their law schools regarding potential funding.

OVERVIEW OF LSIC

50 years ago a consortium of District of Columbia law schools created Law Students in Court as a response to the crisis in legal services for the poor. LSIC is the oldest legal services clinic in the District; our mission is to make justice a reality for low-income residents of DC by teaching and inspiring the next generation of law students while providing free and high-quality legal services to those who most need it. LSIC’s attorneys and student advocates zealously defend against evictions, support the preservation and creation of affordable housing, break down barriers to employment and housing for re-entering citizens, and ensure that equal justice applies to all regardless of income.

We are committed to protecting the legal rights of vulnerable men, women, and children who have civil, criminal, and housing legal problems that originated in the District. Our steady presence in the courts and in the community serves as a vital check on a system that favors people with resources over people without. To date, LSIC has protected the rights of more than 250,000 DC residents and trained more than 4000 social justice advocates.

NATURE OF THE FELLOWSHIP

A fellow will gain practical experience including client interviewing and counseling, case investigation, litigation, discovery, negotiations, trial skills, community engagement and outreach, legislative and public policy advocacy, and public education.

LSIC will work closely with the selected fellowship candidate to develop a collaborative project proposal addressing landlord-tenant, housing, support and advocacy for returning citizens, immigration, civil protection orders, or other justice reform issues of special interest to the applicant.

Possible projects include, but are not limited to,  the following topic areas:

1) Housing, including “Civil Gideon,” Eviction Defense, Affordable Housing, Criminalization of Public Housing, or more

LSIC’s largest practice area is housing. We are the largest provider of legal representation in eviction defense matters at the Landlord & Tenant Branch of DC Superior Court while also providing representation in other housing areas such as preserving affordable housing, housing conditions cases, discrimination, rent stabilization, issues of criminalizing public housing, and more. We would welcome a project to build onto or complement our existing work. Your project could involve a combination of direct representation and systemic advocacy to help both preserve the supply of affordable housing in DC while also keeping low-income tenants in their homes. We are also interested in a project focused on behalf of public housing residents who have been issued illegal barring notices which remove them from their families.

2) Immigration, including Defense of Detained Individuals and/or “Crimmigration”

LSIC represents detained immigrants in bond hearings at Arlington Immigration Court. We hope to grow this program through pro bono representation and to build out similar, adjacent work through a Fellowship project. Your project could focus on advising noncitizen criminal defendants of the immigration consequences of their criminal cases, or something of LSIC’s and your mutual selection.

3) Expungement, including advocacy for Returning Citizens

LSIC is one of the largest providers of criminal records sealing services in DC. Our services are in high demand but our resources are quite limited. We would welcome a Fellow to increase our capacity in this area and to build out complementary work. In particular, we are interested in legislative and other systemic advocacy around the DC criminal record sealing law.

4) Civil Protection Order | Holistic Intrafamily Violence Prevention | Procedural Due Process Rights

LSIC is the only organization with a project dedicated to representing respondents in Civil Protection Order proceedings. Namely, we represent individuals who have been accused of an intrafamily crime or act of violence in order to better serve the entire family and reduce future acts of intrafamily violence. These individuals risk losing custody of their children, deportation, incarceration, or other severe consequences that we generally think are only the result of criminal proceedings – where defendants have guaranteed counsel and the government must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. We would welcome a project focused on representation of respondents and/or building out systemic and legislative advocacy around this issue.

REQUIREMENTS

Applicants should have:

  • A demonstrated commitment to LSIC’s mission and social justice lawyering;
  • Client-centered experience;
  • Excellent legal research and writing skills;
  • The ability to work well in a team and independently;
  • Current or pending membership in the DC bar (preferred);

Applicants should consult the Skadden Foundation, Equal Justice Works, and Open Society Foundation websites for more information about their selection processes and compensation.

TO APPLY

To apply, please submit the following to showard@dclawstudents.org

  • 1 page letter of interest, detailing your interest in serving as a fellow with LSIC. If you have potential areas of interest or a project to propose, please include information on the nature of your proposed project and the population you seek to serve, and why you are well-suited to carry out this particular project;
  • Resume;
  • Legal writing sample, preferably a motion, memorandum, or brief;
  • Law school transcript (informal is acceptable);
  • Contact information for 3 references, identifying their relationship to you;
  • A statement indicating whether, if your application for a Skadden, Equal Justice Works, or other privately funded public service fellowship at LSIC is unsuccessful, your law school could fund a fellowship at LSIC and pertinent information regarding what funding opportunities would be available.

Please be sure to include “2020 Fellowship Candidate” in the subject line.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

LSIC is an equal opportunity employer: people of color; women; people with disabilities; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people; and people with personal/familial experience with the criminal justice and family court system are welcome and encouraged to apply.

Please contact Sterling Morriss Howard, Director of Development, via email at showard@dclawstudents.org with any questions regarding the fellowship application process. 

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