Graduate Fellowship - NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

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NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. | Washington, DC

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Published 11 days ago

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Inc. (“LDF”) invites rising third-year law students, judicial clerks, and other recent law school graduates to apply for LDF sponsorship for public interest fellowship projects to begin in the fall of 2019, Spring 2020 or Fall 2020. Sponsorship will enable the applicant to submit proposals for consideration to fellowships offered by the applicant’s law school.

LDF is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF’s transformative mission is to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. For over 70 years, LDF has litigated civil rights cases in a broad range of areas, including education, economic justice, criminal justice, and voting rights. Some of LDF’s most prominent cases include Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948) (holding that the enforcement of racially restrictive covenants in housing violated the Equal Protection Clause), Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (striking de jure racial segregation in public education); Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971) (announcing the disparate impact theory of discrimination under Title VII); Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972) (finding death penalty unconstitutional under 8th Amendment); McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987) (ruling that statistical evidence alone was insufficient to find racial discrimination in Georgia’s death penalty); Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013) (invalidating key provision of the Voting Rights Act). LDF’s current litigation and advocacy practice seek redress for racial discrimination in cases and advocacy issues all across the country. 

We seek to sponsor a public interest Fellow to address systemic obstacles and policies that underlie continuing racial disparities and discrimination. The Fellow will work with LDF attorneys and other staff on trial and appellate litigation in state and federal courts, policymaking, and/or other forms of advocacy. Fellowship projects may include the following issues:


  • Discriminatory school discipline policies and practices.
  • Racial disparities resulting from school system operations (e.g., curricular offerings, student assignment, discipline policies, distribution of teachers).
  • Enforcement of existing school desegregation consent decrees.
  • Diversity and inclusion in higher education.


o  Discriminatory use of credit history or criminal background checks.

o  Discriminatory practices in mortgages or foreclosure (or other housing-related issue).

o  Criminalization of poverty.


o  Racially discriminatory and/or excessive use of force by law enforcement.

o  Parole and/or probation reform.

o  Solitary confinement.

o  Criminalization of youth of color diagnosed, or misdiagnosed, with a disability.

o  State and federal sentencing reform.

o  Prosecutorial misconduct and/or racially discriminatory exercise of discretion.

o  Capital punishment.


o  Challenging discriminatory voting laws—particularly those occurring in areas formerly covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act pre-Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder—under the remaining provisions of the VRA and other federal laws.

o  Developing and implementing public education campaigns regarding a variety of state and local level voting-related issues, and the expansion of opportunities for people with felony convictions to vote.

o  Assisting LDF’s efforts in Washington, D.C. related to federal voting laws and policies.

Selected candidates will be required to seek their own funding through their law schools by preparing and submitting proposals as required by those schools, with guidance from the LDF staff. The Fellow’s work may involve any of the issue areas addressed or a more specific area, depending upon the nature of the fellowship proposal. For more information about LDF’s work, please visit our website:

Qualifications & Application Process:

Candidates should have a demonstrated commitment to racial justice and addressing racial inequality; outstanding research and writing skills; the ability to work both collaboratively and independently; and the capacity for creative thinking. Interested candidates should apply by sending the following materials: (1) a cover letter specifying the candidate’s interest in working with LDF and relevant experience; (2) a resume; (3) a list of three references; and (4) a legal writing sample. Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to include a brief description of potential project idea(s) in the cover letter. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Please e-mail application materials to with the subject line “[First Name + Last Name] – LDF Fellow” and address the cover letter to:      

Oris Diaz

Director of Human Resources

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

40 Rector Street, 5th Floor

New York, New York 10006

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Inc. (“LDF”) invites rising third-year law students, judicial clerks, and other recent law school graduates to apply for LDF sponsorship for public interest fellowship projects to begin in the fall…

Details at a glance

  • On-site Location
  • Full Time Schedule
  • J.D. Required

How To Apply


Washington, DC