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. SCSJ’s focus areas are community-driven, and currently include voting rights, criminal justice reform, and youth justice, as well as environmental justice and human rights when resources permit. 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 and Texas, including two Supreme Court arguments since 2018, and another upcoming later this year. 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 works on proactive electoral reform advocacy projects as well. SCSJ seeks an attorney committed to delivering excellent legal services to communities that frequently lack adequate representation. Our 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.

For more information about our work and our unique community lawyering approach, visit our website at www.southerncoalition.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. 

Position Summary: 

SCSJ seeks interns for its Voting Rights program area for Summer 2023. Interns assist with all facets of SCSJ’s advocacy, including but not limited to, state and federal court filings, administrative hearings, policy advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels, election protection work, and community outreach. SCSJ particularly seeks candidates who are committed to the ideals of racial, social, and economic justice, and are interested in working to advance these ideals across the South through creative advocacy. These candidates should also be committed to learning how to become a civil rights lawyer in a community-lawyering model. We endeavor to provide our interns with substantive, meaningful litigation and advocacy experience, including assisting in drafting pleadings and working directly with our clients and coalition members. We also endeavor to ensure our interns have a strong writing sample by the end of the summer.

Required qualifications: 

  • Completed first year of law school.
  • Commitment to the communities in which we work and serve. 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 to SCSJ’s community-lawyering model of practice. The goals of our litigation and advocacy will always be shaped by the needs of our clients, our partners, and our communities. We seek to bring the community into the courtroom, and to ensure that the stories and priorities of our community are what drive our work.
  • Interest in voting rights. We don’t expect you to be an expert in voting rights cases, or to have prior experience working on voting rights litigation or policy. While these experiences can be helpful and we welcome applications from those who have such experience, we also strongly encourage applicants who do not have substantive voting rights experience to apply for an internship if interested.
  • Ability to be a team player. SCSJ strives to support its interns as full, valued members of our team while recognizing the level of experience interns bring to the work. We will not expect you to immediately have the right answer, 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 to do 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. Our aim is to 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 over the course of the summer.
  • Pursuing a career in the public interest, broadly defined. SCSJ prioritizes hiring interns who are 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 you reach your 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 law students 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.

Intern responsibilities: 

  • 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 a variety of voting rights topics.
  • Committing to and helping implement community lawyering strategies, including coordinating with SCSJ partners to ensure that our communities’ needs are being met and goals are being advanced. This may include attending and helping facilitate community forums, trainings, individual outreach, and other duties as needed.
  • Interfacing with election administrators on various issues, including outreach by email, phone, and attendance at public hearings on issues as available and 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 37.5 hours a week for a minimum of 10 weeks. SCSJ can be flexible with semester start and end dates, vacation and travel plans, and other commitments as needed. If you have a commitment or obligation that makes you unsure if you can commit for a minimum of 10 weeks, we encourage you to apply anyway and note that in your application.

Compensation:  

SCSJ is willing to work with applicants to secure funding for the internship from your law school (or school credit if an applicant prefers). That said, if your law school does not provide summer funding, SCSJ is committed to ensuring that you are compensated for your summer. SCSJ expects applicants who are eligible for summer funding through their law school to apply for funding, but will guarantee $2,000/month to each intern we hire for the summer if the applicant is unable to secure funding (up to 3 months of work). We strongly encourage applicants to apply regardless of summer funding status.

Location: 

Due to the ongoing public health crisis, SCSJ staff is working remotely and not in the office in Durham, NC, and will continue likely at least through early 2023. SCSJ will consider applicants who can only work remotely on a case-by-case basis, but expects to be back in the office at least part-time by the start of the intern program. We strongly encourage applicants to apply even if they cannot relocate to Durham full-time for the summer.

To Apply: 

Candidates must upload a cover letter and resume to this Box folder. Files should be properly labeled with the candidate’s name.

Applications will be reviewed beginning on November 1, 2022, and thereafter on a rolling basis.

SCSJ is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applicants without regard to 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 reach out to chrisshenton@scsj.org.

If you are an individual with a disability and need assistance completing the online application, please contact jobs@scsj.org.