The Legal Action Center (LAC) seeks candidates to sponsor in fellowship applications to Equal Justice Works or Soros Justice Fellowships for the following project based in LAC’s New York City office.
LAC is a non-profit law and policy organization whose mission is to fight discrimination against, and protect the privacy of, individuals with criminal records, alcohol or drug histories, and/or HIV/AIDS. Through its New York City headquarters and Washington, D.C. office, LAC uses a multi-faceted approach to effectuate its mission, including litigation, legal services, education, and policy analysis and advocacy.
Background: Since the 1970s, the “tough on crime” and “war on drugs” approaches in the United States have created mass incarceration, mostly of Blacks and Latinos. One tragic and unintended consequence of these polices is that an estimated 100 million Americans have a criminal history on record. These men and women find themselves in a state of perpetual punishment of collateral consequences that make it difficult for them – for the rest of their lives – to obtain jobs, housing, education, public assistance, drivers’ licenses, the right to vote and other necessities.
Given the post-9/11 era we live in and the technological advancements in the last decade, widespread access and dissemination of criminal record information is now the norm. Approximately 92% of employers conduct criminal background checks for some or all of their job applicants. Landlords are also increasingly running criminal background checks on housing applicants. The use of criminal background checks is so pervasive that over the past decade or so, the commercial background check industry has become highly profitable industry, with over 500 companies.
Unfortunately, the widespread access to criminal record information hinders employment and housing opportunities for the estimated 100 million Americans with criminal records in a myriad of ways. For example, many commercial background check companies fail to fully comply with federal and state fair credit reporting act (consumer protection) laws designed to create an accurate and fair process. Commercial background checks are rife with inaccurate criminal record information, including sealed/expunged information, which results in lost jobs or housing opportunities. (For more information on LAC’s pending fair credit reporting act litigation, click here.) Furthermore, there is rampant discrimination based on criminal history, especially in the area of employment and housing.
Project: Many job and housing applicants with criminal records face an unimaginable struggle because they are attempting to do the right thing – find employment and/or stable housing – but are continuously rejected based on their past criminal history. At this critical time in our nation, where demonstrations, conversations and polls around the country reveal a widespread rejection of the failed policies of mass incarceration, the war on drugs, and the assumptions that fueled them, it is imperative to push even harder for the enforcement of laws that protect individuals with criminal records history, especially in the areas of employment and housing. It is equally important to think critically and strategically about changing the current web of laws that keep people with criminal records out of the workforce and, in some instances, homeless. LAC seeks to sponsor a fellow to:
- enforce New York State and New York City’s anti-discrimination laws that protect individuals from employment discrimination based on criminal record;
- enforce federal and New York State fair credit reporting act laws (consumer protection laws) governing background screening industry;
- conduct informal advocacy for people with criminal record histories in New York to get employment;
- evaluate and enforce ban-the-box laws in New York;
- strategize with individuals directly impacted by mass incarceration about approaches to education, policy reform, and legal enforcement;
- educate job developers, employers, landlords, policy makers, community based organizations, and community members about applicable laws in this area; and
- participate in LAC’s policy initiatives in this area.
Application Instructions: Submit a cover letter explaining your interest in this project, resume and writing sample to Monica Welby, firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, but priority will be given to those received by July 15, 2015.
The Legal Action Center (LAC) is seeking applications from second and third year law students for our part-time Semester Legal Internship program. LAC’s Legal Interns work with our attorneys and policy staff to assist with impact litigation, direct client services, and policy advocacy on behalf of individuals with substance use disorders, criminal records, and/or HIV/AIDS. Much of LAC’s work is undertaken in the areas of employment discrimination, health care access, health privacy, disability and other civil rights law, and the administration of the criminal justice system. Excellent research and writing skills are required.
ABOUT THE LEGAL ACTION CENTER: The Legal Action Center is the only non-profit law and policy organization in the United States whose sole mission is to fight discrimination against people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, and/or criminal records, and to advocate for sound public policies in these areas. For four decades, LAC has worked to combat the stigma and prejudice that keep these individuals out of the mainstream of society. The Legal Action Center is committed to helping people reclaim their lives, maintain their dignity, and participate fully in society as productive, responsible citizens.
LAC works to reduce alcohol and drug addiction and abuse by conducting policy advocacy to expand and improve treatment and prevention, providing legal assistance to people in recovery or still suffering from addiction, and working with programs that serve them to fight discrimination and violations of privacy. LAC works to prevent HIV/AIDS and protect those living with HIV/AIDS by providing legal assistance to people with HIV/AIDS and programs that serve them, and advocating for expanded prevention, care and other services. LAC helps improve the criminal justice system by helping qualified people with criminal records to obtain employment and services needed to re-enter society successfully, assisting programs that work with them, and conducting public policy advocacy and research to reform sentencing laws, expand community corrections, and promote other sound policies.
JOB DESCRIPTION AND DUTIES: Working with staff at LAC’s New York City office, Legal Interns assist attorneys and policy staff with the broad array of work LAC performs, including:
- legal research and writing for impact litigation and client advocacy;
- research and writing for public policy advocacy;
- working directly with clients and prospective clients by conducting intakes, providing information to individuals seeking to overcome barriers based on their criminal histories, and drafting client advocacy documents; and
- drafting position papers, legislation, and other policy documents.
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, resume, and writing sample to the Legal Action Center, Attention: Legal Intern Coordinator, 225 Varick St., Suite 402, New York, NY 10014; fax: (212) 675-0286; email: email@example.com, with subject line “Legal Internship.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply for this internship, please send a cover letter and resume to Ms. Boyd at email@example.com.