ACLU of Wisconsin Internships Opportunities
The ACLU of Wisconsin offers internship programs for both law students and undergraduates. The ACLU uses public education, informal advocacy, and targeted litigation to help maintain and advance civil liberties, including freedoms of association, press, religion, and speech, as well as core civil rights, including voting rights, due process, and privacy rights, and the right to equal protection, for all people in Wisconsin.
Law Student Summer Internships
The law student summer internship program is open to students from any accredited law school. The ACLU of Wisconsin accepts up to four law students for in-depth work at our Milwaukee offices from May until August. Summer Interns work full-time for 10 to 12 weeks.
Summer Interns work closely with the Legal Director and staff attorneys on case development and litigation. Students may draft pleadings, briefs, and other legal documents; conduct legal research and prepare memoranda; develop strategy and legal theories; gather evidence; and attend meetings with clients, conferences with opposing counsel, and any court proceedings. Summer Interns also have the opportunity to conduct legal intake of potential clients, interact with other counsel and experts, and attend press conferences and government meetings. Our legal interns develop valuable skills in client and witness interviewing, legal research and writing, pretrial discovery review. Legal interns may also work with our Advocacy & Community Engagement department on public education, organizing, and other non-litigation advocacy work. Interns with a background in the social sciences may also work with the Staff Attorney Researcher on quantitative and qualitative research projects related to civil rights issues, generally on topics involving the criminal legal system.
The ACLU encourages internship applicants to seek funding from their law schools or other sources for work done in connection with the internship but has limited funds to pay a stipend of approximately $5,000 per intern for students who cannot obtain other funding for public interest internships. In addition, the ACLU may be able to defray commuting costs for students who do not live in Milwaukee. The ACLU does not provide health insurance or other benefits for law students.
We encourage law students from the University of Wisconsin Law School and the Marquette University Law School to apply through the Public Interest Interview Program and/or the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Diversity Clerkship program, which generally have application deadlines in January and February. For students from other law schools, please email a cover letter, resume and writing sample to email@example.com by January 31st. Or you may mail the materials to ACLU of Wisconsin, 207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 325, Milwaukee, WI, 53202.
Athan G. Theoharis Undergraduate Summer Internship Program
Athan Theoharis, born to immigrant parents in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1930s, went on to become a leading historian who documented the FBI’s violations of privacy and abuses of power, particularly during J. Edgar Hoover’s decades as FBI director. Dr. Theoharis taught history at a number of universities during his career, ultimately retiring from Marquette University, in his home town of Milwaukee. In addition to his scholarship and teaching, Athan was a committed champion of civil rights and civil liberties. He served on the ACLU of Wisconsin’s board of directors for many years and often spoke on behalf of the organization on issues of surveillance and privacy.
When Athan passed away in 2021, his children established a fund to support internships at the ACLU of Wisconsin for college students who would otherwise be financially unable to take an unpaid internship at a non-profit organization. Each year, one college student with an interest in civil rights and civil liberties will be selected to receive a $5,000 stipend to work for 10 weeks over the summer. Theoharis Interns may work with the Legal Department or the Advocacy & Community Engagement Department of the ACLU of Wisconsin.
Interested students should submit a cover letter and a resume to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 31st. The letter should describe the student’s interest in civil rights and civil liberties and any personal experiences that shaped that interest, as well as an explanation of how the stipend would make it possible to do an internship that would otherwise be financially difficult.
Intake Intern Program (available during the academic year or summer)
The Student Intake Intern provides support to the ACLU of Wisconsin legal department. This is a part-time position open to current college or graduate students, law students, or paralegal students interested in civil rights and civil liberties issues. The ACLU encourages applicants to seek funding from their schools but has limited funding available to pay a stipend, the amount of which will depend on the number of hours worked during the summer or semester.
Under the supervision of the Legal Director and the Legal & Community Engagement Coordinator, the Intake Intern assists with the efficient handling of legal inquiries from members of the public, maintaining the legal department database, and providing occasional litigation support to staff attorneys and cooperating pro bono counsel. Intake interns may also have the opportunity to work with our Advocacy & Community Engagement department on public education, organizing, and other non-litigation advocacy work.
Interested students should submit a cover letter and a resume to email@example.com by January 31st for summer internships and by July 15th for internships during the academic year. The letter should describe the student’s interest in civil rights and civil liberties or the legal profession more generally.
Externally Funded Fellowships for Law Graduates
The ACLU of Wisconsin welcomes proposals from recent law graduates, judicial law clerks, and other qualified applicants for funded fellowships to work on important or cutting edge civil liberties and civil rights issues.
In general, we seek to have one externally funded fellow at the organization at a time. Because most of the available fellowships are for two years, this means we are most interested in applicants whose fellowships would start as our current fellow’s time is coming to an end. Accordingly, we will be accepting applications in the Summer of 2022 for fellowships commencing in the Fall of 2023, and then every even-numbered year following. We may make exceptions for particularly compelling projects that do not fall into this cycle.
The selected applicant will work together with the ACLU of Wisconsin to develop and submit proposals for national public interest law fellowships, such as the Skadden, Soros, and Equal Justice Works Fellowships. An applicant who is eligible for law-school-specific fellowships will be encouraged to apply for those as well.
We welcome project applications relating to any civil rights or civil liberties area, including freedom of speech and religion, police misconduct, voting, due process, privacy, poverty, criminal justice, reproductive freedom, education, and the rights of people of color, women, LGBT persons, persons with disabilities, immigrants, and prisoners. However, proposals related to our current priority areas—reform of the criminal legal system (including police practices, prison conditions, parole, and extended supervision), discrimination in housing and education, the rights of protesters, and the rights of LGBT people—may be more likely to result in a match. Whatever the topic, we will work with the selected fellowship candidate to develop a proposal that builds on the candidate’s interests and skills, ensures appropriate supervision, fits with the ACLU’s priorities, and employs strategies most likely to be effective in advancing the project’s goals.
As part of the ACLU’s mission to increase access and opportunity for those individuals and groups who have historically been underrepresented and underserved, we are committed to having a diverse workplace. People of color, women, LGBT persons and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.
Applicants should have a demonstrated commitment to civil liberties and civil rights, exceptional research and writing skills, and a J.D. degree (or expect one within the next year).
This opportunity is not funded by the ACLU of Wisconsin, although the ACLU may provide certain benefits or other support depending on the terms of the fellowship awarded. The ACLU will cooperate with successful applicants to seek fellowship support, and the salary will be based on the terms of the fellowship awarded.
How to Apply:
To be considered for sponsorship, please submit a cover letter that:
- identifies a specific area of interest, specific fellowship project, and goals for what you want to accomplish during the fellowship;
- explains why you want the ACLU of Wisconsin to host your project; and
- specifies the fellowships for which you would like to apply.
Please include a resume and a writing sample and send the materials by July 15th to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In advance of submitting their applications, applicants may seek guidance about whether their area of interest and proposed work fits within the ACLU’s priorities and strategies by emailing Larry Dupuis at email@example.com.
The ACLU of Wisconsin and ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation are an equal opportunity/affirmative action employers and encourage applications from all qualified individuals including women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.