September 4, 2019

Summer Trial Litigation Program or Supreme Court and Appellate Program (Chicago, IL)

The Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center (MJC) is one of the nation’s premier civil rights organizations and champions criminal justice reform through litigation, in areas that include police misconduct, rights of the accused, issues facing indigent prisoners, the death penalty, and the rights of detainees.

MJC is accepting applications from law students for summer internships in its Chicago office. Applicants interested in the Chicago office should apply specifically to the Trial Litigation Program or the Supreme Court and Appellate Program, noting which one they are applying to in bold in their cover letter.

Trial Litigation Program: Students will immerse themselves in a fast-paced civil rights trial practice, focusing on issues of police misconduct, mass imprisonment, racial injustice and criminalization of poverty.  Students will draft legal briefs, research caselaw, draft discovery, participate in expert discovery and deposition preparation, and attend court hearings.  Cases include:

  • Systemic challenges to pretrial detention practices, including the use of cash bail
  • Wrongful conviction damages suits focusing on police and prosecutorial misconduct and constitutional violations
  • Prisoner rights suits, addressing denial of mental health care, sexual abuse and harassment, LGBTQI rights, and ICE/immigration detention
  • Excessive force litigation, particularly police shootings, focusing on issues of Fourth Amendment liability and qualified immunity
  • Parole revocation reform, seeking due process protections and appointment of counsel in the Illinois Department of Corrections

Supreme Court and Appellate Program: Students will work principally on appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court, federal circuit courts, or state courts of appeal, which raise important issues related to civil rights and the criminal justice system. Students will have the opportunity to make a substantial contribution to the ongoing appellate cases, including performing research and drafting legal analysis for briefs that will be filed in federal court. Students will gain exposure to the broader appellate process, which may include participation in client interaction and strategic decision-making, analysis of factual records, and participation in moot oral arguments (depending upon the stage of their assigned matters).

Examples of issues raised in MJC appeals include:

  • Unsettled questions of criminal procedure under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments (search & seizure, privilege against self-incrimination, right to a jury, right to counsel);
  • Issues facing indigent prisoners, including the constitutional rights of prisoners to be free from cruel and unusual treatment by prison officials and access to courts;
  • Constitutional challenges to the use of solitary confinement in the prison system;
  • Police misconduct and qualified immunity
  • Challenges to certain discriminatory executive actions outside of the criminal justice system, including discriminatory practices of Immigrations and Custom Enforcement and discrimination against Muslim travelers at the border.

Compensation may be available for students unable to obtain summer funding from their law schools.

Students interested in this opportunity should submit a cover letter, resume, transcript, and an unedited writing sample to Anissa Torres soon as possible at anissa.torres1@law.northwestern.edu. We will begin hiring on a rolling basis immediately.