Jobs

LAC is a non-profit law and policy organization that specializes in fighting discrimination against and protecting the rights of people with alcohol or drug problems, HIV/AIDS or criminal records.


Internships (New York):

Legal Internships

The Legal Action Center accepts applications from second- and third-year law students to work part-time during the fall and spring semesters, and full-time throughout the summer. The work involves legal research and writing, litigation assistance, client intake, policy analysis and other activities. Much of the work is done in the areas of disability and other civil rights law, employment discrimination, privacy law, and the administration of the criminal justice system. Excellent research and writing skills are required.

ABOUT THE LEGAL ACTION CENTER: The Center is a non-profit public interest law firm and policy organization that specializes in fighting discrimination against and protecting the rights of people with alcohol or drug problems, HIV/AIDS or criminal records. Among other valuable services, we help individuals obtain employment, housing, and benefits despite past criminal convictions, alcohol/drug histories or HIV status. We do this through impact litigation and a comprehensive range of civil legal services, including assisting our clients to obtain and clean up their New York State rap sheets, seek and obtain certificates of good conduct or relief from disabilities that are often essential to finding jobs or acquiring professional licenses, prepare and file employment discrimination and breach of privacy complaints, and gather evidence of rehabilitation. We also advocate on the local, state and national levels for sound criminal justice, drug and HIV policies, and partner with organizations to encourage policy makers to adopt these policies. We also provide training and technical assistance to a wide variety of health and social service providers, policymakers, employers, workforce development agencies, and others.

JOB DESCRIPTION AND DUTIES: Working with staff at LAC's New York City office, the intern will assist attorneys with the broad array of work the Center performs, including legal research and writing for public policy advocacy and litigation (cutting edge impact litigation as well as legal services cases), drafting position papers and legislation, conducting client intakes, and writing letters and other advocacy documents on behalf of clients. At times, interns also conduct administrative hearings.

QUALIFICATIONS: Excellent communication, advocacy, analytic and writing skills required. The Legal Action Center is an equal opportunity employer.

TIME COMMITMENT: At least 10-15 hours per week for at least 10 weeks. Full-time positions are also available. If an intern is available to work more hours each week or for more than 10 weeks, there may be more opportunities to increase the level of responsibility and range of work.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to the Legal Action Center, Attention: Legal Intern Coordinator, 225 Varick St., 4th Fl, New York, NY 10014; fax: (212) 675-0286; email: lacinfo@lac.org, with subject line “Legal Internship.”


Internships (Washington, DC):

Legal Internships

If you are interested in Interning in our Washington, D.C. office, we periodically have positions available. Through our Washington office, LAC advocates with Congress and agencies within the administration to improve our federal laws and policies to end discrimination against people in recovery or still suffering from addiction; to expand funding and coverage for life-saving alcohol and drug treatment, prevention, and research; and to eliminate barriers that people with criminal records face when reentering the community from incarceration.

JOB DESCRIPTION AND DUTIES: LAC interns research, track, and analyze federal legislation and policy, attend Congressional hearings and briefings, and assist in other ongoing projects related to the federal advocacy work. Excellent research and writing skills are required. Past interns have included law school and other graduate students interested in policy advocacy; some LAC interns have elected to continue their internship beyond the summer semester. While this has traditionally been a paid internship, individuals could instead elect to receive credit for their work. The Legal Action Center is an equal opportunity employer. Members of LAC’s stakeholder populations are strongly urged to apply.

More information about LAC and our National HIRE Network, which focuses on expanding employment opportunities for people with criminal records, can be found on our websites, http://www.lac.org and www.hirenetwork.org, or by contacting Sherie V. Boyd, Office Manager, at sboyd@lac.org.

To apply for this internship, please send a cover letter and resume to Ms. Boyd at sboyd@lac.org.

Fellowship Sponsorship Opportunities (New York):

The Legal Action Center (LAC) seeks candidates to sponsor in fellowship applications to Equal Justice Works, Soros Justice Fellowships and/or other one- or two-year fellowship programs for the following projects based in LAC’s New York City office.  Applicants should indicate their interest in applying for one or both of these projects and state their preference, if they have one. 

Projects

1.  Access to Addiction Treatment in the Criminal Justice System. The explosion of prescription opioid addiction and consequent outcries from affected families and communities, combined with a number of high profile overdose deaths, have cast a spotlight on the opioid addiction epidemic sweeping the country.  Policy makers, medical professionals, and the media, as well as impacted families and communities, are demanding solutions.  Yet, criminal justice agencies and family courts nationwide commonly thwart the most effective treatment for opioid addiction.  Scientific research has firmly established that treatment of opioid addiction with medications (such as methadone,buprenorphine, and long-acting naltrexone) in combination with counseling is the most effective treatment for opioid addiction, saving lives and reducing addiction and related criminal activity.  Federal and state health agencies, medical societies, and the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy have urged widespread access to FDA-approved addiction medications.  Despite this, many courts (and related agencies) require individuals whose addictions are successfully being treated with prescribed medication to stop taking their medication, against medical advice. This forced termination of treatment is generally done out of ignorance about the nature of addiction and its treatments, and the mistaken belief that addiction medications “replace one addiction with another,” despite decades of medical and scientific evidence to the contrary.  The result of forcing people off of addiction medications is often relapse, overdose, death, increased crime, and unnecessary incarceration.

The denial of access to addiction medications is not just bad policy.  It also often violates laws prohibiting disability-based discrimination.  (For more information, read LAC’s report, Legality of Denying Access to Medication Assisted Treatment.) 

LAC seeks to sponsor a fellow to help develop a multi-faceted campaign to save lives and increase public safety by ending criminal justice agencies’ policies and practices prohibiting addiction medication.  The campaign would include advocacy for individuals denied access to addiction medication (through cutting edge impact litigation, informal advocacy, and serving as a back-up resource for local criminal and family defense counsel), education of the relevant stakeholders, and/or policy advocacy. 

2.  Equal Health Insurance Coverage for Addiction Treatment. For decades, alcohol and drug addiction has been recognized by all major medical and scientific bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, as a chronic disease of the brain. Yet access to addiction treatment has not kept pace with this understanding of addiction as a disease, and not a moral failing. Health insurers have historically discriminated against people with addiction, for example, by arbitrarily limiting the amount or type of treatment a person can receive, by denying coverage for addiction treatment at much higher rates than medical/surgical treatment, and by charging higher deductibles and co-payments for addiction treatment compared to medical/surgical treatment. Among people who need and seek addiction treatment, the primary reason for not receiving that treatment is lack of insurance coverage and inability to pay. With addiction reaching epidemic levels in the U.S, access to effective addiction treatment is more important than ever.

In 2008, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“federal parity law”) was signed into law, requiring health insurers who cover mental health and addiction treatment to cover such treatment equally—or at parity—with medical and surgical treatment. Yet regulations implementing the law were not released until the end of 2013. Enforcement has been sparse and, according to a 2014 survey, a mere 4% of Americans are aware of the existence of the federal parity law. The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) has recently expanded the reach of the federal parity law, and therefore, the time is ripe to bring enforcement actions and raise awareness about the parity law’s protections.

LAC seeks to sponsor a fellow to lead a federal parity law project, which would include education, policy advocacy, impact litigation, and other types of client representation such as administrative appeals. The goal of the project is to enforce compliance with the law so that people with addiction have access to effective treatment.

Application Instructions:  Submit a cover letter explaining your interest in one or both projects, resume and writing sample to Kate Wagner-Goldstein, kwagnergoldstein@lac.org.  Depending on interest and other factors, LAC would sponsor either one individual (for one project) or two individuals (one for each project).  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.