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, 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.
Justice System Reform's Vision and Framework:
The Justice System Reform (JSR) program promotes social, economic, and racial justice by focusing on directly affected communities who bear the brunt of our deeply flawed and intractably racist system of mass incarceration. Informed and led by community input, we use litigation, organizing, issue advocacy campaigns, communications, and expert policy analysis in a braided approach to disrupt, dismantle, and reimagine. Our work seeks to support, protect, and empower safe and healthy communities while creating a less punitive, more accountable criminal legal system. JSR also seeks to increase our grassroots partners’ capacity to build power and achieve demands that change the living conditions of their base.
Voting Right's Vision and Framework:
Hosting one of the country’s premier voting rights programs, SCSJ has litigated voting rights and redistricting cases all across the South, in states including North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, including three Supreme Court arguments since 2018. Active in both state and federal court, SCSJ’s voting rights team litigates a broad scope of voting rights cases, including cases brought under state and federal constitutions, the Voting Rights Act, and the National Voter Registration Act. With a commitment to combating voter suppression in all its forms, SCSJ has also represented voters prosecuted for participation in the political process and voters who have been subject to intimidation and defamation. SCSJ also engages with local election officials to help protect access to the ballot, troubleshoot issues, and provide technical expertise to ensure that all voters have the ability to participate in our democracy. SCSJ also works on proactive electoral reform advocacy projects at the federal, state, and local levels. SCSJ’s model of practice requires team members who work well with grassroots groups and in collaboration with other civil rights groups, and who have deep passion for and commitment to fighting for inclusive political participation.
SCSJ seeks legal interns to assist each of its three program areas — environmental justice, justice system reform, and voting rights during Summer 2024. 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 program area team for which they are selected. 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 all aspects of SCSJ’s cross-disciplinary team, including its lawyers, community organizers, data analysts, and 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.
- No direct experience in any of our 3 areas of practice required. We don't expect you to be an expert in environmental justice, justice system reform or voting rights cases or to have prior experience working on 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 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 at least one 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.
We are looking for committed applicants who want to learn. We recognize that there are lots of different people, with different experiences and different goals, who fit that description. If that’s you, we strongly encourage you to apply.
- Familiarity or experience working on issues related to environmental justice, criminal legal reform, voting rights, racial justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, or education.
- Experience supporting grassroots or issue-advocacy campaigns on matters of social justice.
- Prior communications, organizing, or campaign experience.
- Experience with policy or legal advocacy.
- 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 topics within our program areas.
- 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 40 hours per week for 10 weeks during the Summer of 2024.
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 funding, SCSJ is committed to ensuring you are compensated. We strongly encourage applicants to apply regardless of funding status.
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 program area to which they are applying (Summer 2024).
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis but must be submitted no later than December 15, 2023.
If you have a disability, need assistance completing the online application, have questions or concerns about the internship or application process please contact email@example.com.