The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in August 2007 and works across the South. Our mission is to promote justice by partnering with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights. Using a community lawyering approach to priority setting, SCSJ's focus areas currently include voting rights, criminal justice transformation, youth decriminalization, and environmental justice. SCSJ provides comprehensive resources for communities seeking to create structural change in areas from research and litigation to organizing and communications and utilizes all mechanisms for supporting those communities, including movement lawyering strategies.
For more information about our work and our unique community lawyering approach, visit our website at www.scsj.org.
Diversity and Inclusion Statement:
SCSJ is committed to a policy of equal employment opportunity for all persons without regard to race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, personal appearance, marital or family status, citizenship, past, current, or prospective service in the uniformed services, genetic information, natural hair styles, or other status as protected by State and Federal laws. It is our intention to promote the full realization of equality in opportunity and employment.
Environmental Justice's Vision and Framework:
The Environmental Justice (EJ) program uses a community-based lawyering approach to redress environmental injustices throughout the South. SCSJ’s EJ program advocates for and empowers environmental justice communities through community legal education, strategic counseling, and litigation on a wide range of issues including zoning and land use, air and water pollution, energy equity, and climate change resilience. The EJ program’s work will often overlap with that of the Voting Rights and Justice System Reform program areas.
SCSJ seeks interns to assist the EJ team during the 2023-2024 academic year (Fall and/or Spring semesters). Interns will assist with all facets of SCSJ's advocacy, including, but not limited to, legal research and writing to support active state and federal litigation; policy research and development; outreach to community partners; investigative tasks; and otherwise working closely with the EJ team. SCSJ seeks candidates who are committed to racial, social, and economic justice; interested in advancing these ideals across the South through creative advocacy; and committed to learning and practicing a community lawyering model. Interns will work closely with EJ lawyers, community organizers, and SCSJ's communications team.
- Completed the first year of law school.
- Commitment to the communities in which we work. SCSJ advocates alongside and on behalf of communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities throughout the South. SCSJ prioritizes recruiting team members who share a commitment to advancing racial, social, and economic justice in the South and a commitment to following the lead of community members in doing so.
- Commitment to social justice principles and SCSJ's community-lawyering model of practice. The needs of our clients, partners, and communities will always shape the goals of our litigation and advocacy. We seek to bring the community into the courtroom and ensure that our community's stories and priorities drive our work.
- Interest in environmental justice. We don't expect you to be an expert in environmental justice cases or to have prior experience working on environmental justice litigation or policy. While these experiences can be helpful, and we welcome applications from those with such experience, we also strongly encourage applicants who do not have substantive environmental justice experience to apply for an internship if interested.
- Ability to be a team player. SCSJ strives to support its interns as valued members of our team while recognizing the level of experience interns bring to the work. We will not expect you to have the correct answer immediately, and we strongly encourage you to ask questions about how to do things. The only non-negotiable factors relating to work product are effort and communication. If you work hard and communicate when you need help, you can succeed at SCSJ.
- Excellent legal research skills. SCSJ interns use legal databases for case law, statutory, and administrative rule research. SCSJ interns also supplement that work with internet searches, phone calls, and records requests to do fact research. We encourage you to be curious and motivated to learn how to develop cases of community-focused advocacy, including (but not limited to) litigation.
- Excellent legal writing skills. SCSJ interns help research, draft, and edit legal filings in state and federal court, administrative record submissions, demand letters, and public-facing reports. We involve our interns in all of our advocacy. We will also make sure that interns have an opportunity to develop a writing sample during the course of the internship.
- Pursuing a career in the public interest, broadly defined. SCSJ prioritizes hiring interns interested in developing careers as public interest lawyers. We encourage applicants to use their applications to tell us how they want to develop as advocates and how SCSJ can help them reach their goals. SCSJ will prioritize applicants who can show how they want to use skills acquired in their internship to advance racial, social, and economic justice.
- Familiarity with environmental justice issues.
- Legal and policy advocacy supporting grassroots campaigns led by people of color organizing to address issues related to environmental health.
- Working for or closely with grassroots organizations addressing racial and gender justice issues.
- Familiarity working at the intersections of race, gender/sexuality, and economics.
- Assuming supportive responsibilities in SCSJ cases at all stages of litigation, including fact development, legal research, assisting with drafting and editing of filings, preparing for depositions and court hearings, and coordinating with SCSJ clients.
- Researching and drafting memos, motions, and briefs on various justice system reform topics.
- Committing to and helping implement community lawyering strategies, including coordinating with SCSJ partners to meet community needs and advance goals; attending and helping facilitate community forums, training, individual outreach, and other duties as needed.
- Other projects as assigned, in keeping with a fast-paced and creative organizational strategy.
Duration and Start Date:
SCSJ seeks interns who can commit to working 10 to 20 hours per week during the Fall and/or Spring semesters.
SCSJ is willing to work with applicants to secure funding for the internship from your law school or encourages students seeking externship credit hours to apply. If your law school does not provide semester funding, SCSJ is committed to ensuring you are compensated. We strongly encourage applicants to apply regardless of funding status.
SCSJ's staff is planning to be back in the office at least part-time by the start of the 2023-2024 academic year. SCSJ prefers applicants who can work a hybrid model in our Durham office but will consider applicants who can only work remotely.
Candidates must upload a cover letter, resume, two references, and writing sample here as one PDF file. Candidates should label files with their last name, first name, and the semester that they are applying to intern (Fall 2023 and/or Spring 2024).
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Candidates who can start ASAP for the Fall semester are encouraged to apply.
SCSJ is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applicants regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, gender, gender identity, age, or disability.
If you have any questions or concerns about the internship, the application process, or anything related, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a disability and need assistance completing the online application, please contact email@example.com.