Call for Projects!

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TL;DR: If you have any ideas for what motivated law students could work on this summer, please let us know on this form. And please distribute this as widely as possible!

Law students across the country are eager to work on pressing problems created or highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, many organizations and legal practitioners on the front lines of the crisis need assistance urgently, but may not be in a position to take on summer fellows. Through The COVID-19 Rapid Response/Systems Summer Institute, we are committed to bridging the gap between those students and those organizations. Having received hundreds of fellowship applications from students in the last few days, we are now seeking project partner organizations and lawyers in need of assistance. Here is some basic information about our program.

Fellows will work individually or on teams on a variety of project types, including:

  • Direct client work (e.g., law-related work, such as staffing a helpline or assisting individuals with unemployment insurance forms)
  • Legal research/writing
  • Advocacy efforts

We hope that many of our project partners will be able to work closely with our fellows, providing initial instruction and some amount of supervision, feedback, and mentorship as the projects evolve. We understand that some partner organizations will be unable to engage on all of those levels, so we will have structures to supplement as needed: please don’t let limited supervision capacity prevent you from reaching out to us. Although the pandemic is a driving force behind this effort, the projects themselves need not be virus-related. 

If you have a specific project to propose, please submit it on this form.

If you are uncertain about whether your potential project would be a good fit or is adequately developed, please send us a line here. We are eager to hear even vague ideas and to workshop them with you. 

Please email jlipton@law.harvard.edu and molly@peoplesparity.org with any questions. 

On this Tuesday (05/05) at 12:00 pm ET, we are hosting a Zoom webinar to describe the program in more detail and to answer questions from interested lawyers/organizations. You can join the webinar at this link. The video from the webinar will also be made available for those who cannot join. 

If you are a lawyer potentially interested in volunteering any amount of time to provide supervision and mentorship, please let us know here. We will work with you to find opportunities that match your availability and any conflicts concerns.

Regardless, we ask that you please distribute this as broadly as possible within your networks, to help us connect as many law students wanting to help with as many organizations in need of help as possible. 

Thank you!
The COVID-19 Rapid Response/Systems Summer Institute Organizing Committee

Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis Webinar One

The Systemic Justice Project is hosting a zoom webinar series on “Systemic Lawyering in Times of Crisis” on Tuesdays from 12-1pm EST.

Click here for more information about the webinar series 

The first session, on March 31st, featured:

Watch the webinar here:

Alec Karakatsanis Book Talk: Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System

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Leading civil rights lawyer Alec Karakatsanis of Civil Rights Corps will give a book talk on Wednesday October 30th on his groundbreaking new book, Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System. Lunch provided, and books will be available for purchase and signing from 11:45am. See more at https://thenewpress.com/books/usual-cruelty 

Full details:

Alec Karakatsanis Book Talk – Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System
Wednesday October 30th, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Austin Hall North, Harvard Law School

Cosponsored by:
Systemic Justice Project
Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice
Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising (OPIA)
Criminal Justice Policy Program
Criminal Justice Institute
Supreme Torts


Hope to see you there!


Alec Karakatsanis on How Lawyers can Challenge the Criminal Injustice System

Please join OPIA for a talk with Alec Karakatsanis ’08, recipient of a 2013 Public Service Venture Fund Seed Grant from HLS and Founder & Executive Director of Civil Rights Corps, a non-profit organization dedicated to groundbreaking systemic litigation and advocacy challenging pervasive injustices in the American criminal legal system.

Alec’s talk will touch upon many topics, including:

  • The role of narrative to end mass human caging
  • Litigation strategies to challenge money bail, prosecutors, indigent defense systems, and the criminalization of poverty
  • Working with directly impacted people and community organizers
  • Confronting capitalism and white supremacy

Alec was named the 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year by Public Justice for his role in bringing constitutional civil rights cases challenging the money bail system, and received the 2016 Stephen B. Bright Award for contributions to indigent defense in the South. His work to end modern debtors’ prisons was recently profiled in Harvard Magazine. Co-sponsored with ACS.

October 3 @ 5:15 pm – 6:15 pm, Hauser 102

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Justice Catalyst Fellowship

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Jacob Lipton will be hosting an info session tomorrow, Friday November 10th, at 12pm in HLS’s WCC 3007, about the Justice Catalyst’s Fellowship Program for graduating or post-clerkship law students. Learn more about the fellowship and our two-step application process – informal prospectus (optional but highly recommended) due November 15th, full application due January 10th – at http://justicecatalyst.org/get-started/

The Catalyst is looking for diverse, creative, self-starting fellows who will pursue year-long, project-based fellowships, with a possibility of renewal. The Catalyst prioritizes groundbreaking ideas, including early-stage projects that are boundary-pushing in the pursuit of systemic solutions to major injustices, whether at an established legal organization or an organization looking to hire its first lawyer.

The Catalyst’s philosophy is problem-centric. Successful projects start with a problem in the world and identify the best way to attack it. While the Catalyst’s core programmatic work is focused on litigation as a tool, fellowship project proposals need not be. Every problem has multiple possible solutions, and tailoring your project proposal to your understanding of the problem is key. While direct representation can be a major component of your project, the Catalyst is interested in projects that build towards broad scale change, including projects that fall outside traditional conceptions of legal work.

Full details at http://justicecatalyst.org/get-started/ or contact fellowships@justicecatalyst.org for more information.


CHRGJ Summer Legal Internship: Call for Applications

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law is currently accepting applications for its full-time 10-week summer legal internship program, which will run from June 4, 2018 to August 10, 2018.

Applications are due November 1, 2017.

The Center houses the Global Justice Clinic, the Just Security online forum, and two UN experts and their research staff: the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence (transitional justice). Center faculty and staff will be working across a diverse range of issues, including:

  • Access to justice and legal empowerment
  • American poverty and human rights
  • Artificial intelligence and its impact on the human rights of the poor
  • Arts and human rights
  • Community-based human rights monitoring and data analysis
  • Corporate accountability and remedies for human rights violations by corporate actors
  • Data visualization and human rights
  • Human rights methodology
  • Legal empowerment
  • National security law and international law involving use of force and armed conflict
  • Rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to free, prior, and informed consent
  • Tax policy and human rights
  • Transitional justice
  • Trauma and resilience among human rights defenders

For additional information on CHRGJ’s current research, please visit our website and subscribe to our mailing list to receive announcements regarding new projects.

Interns’ work will include legal research, writing, and advocacy support. They will be expected to work well independently and as a team, and will be encouraged to engage with CHRGJ staff and visiting scholars as active colleagues. Interns will also participate in a series of educational seminars held every two weeks. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone seeking to enhance their knowledge of human rights law and practice and/or to pursue a career in public interest and social justice.

Application instructions

Please send the following to Brianne Cuffe at CHRGJ.nyu@gmail.com with the subject: 2018 Summer Legal Internship:

  1. application form
  2. cover letter tailored to the area(s) of CHRGJ you are most interested in working
  3. current CV
  4. names and contact information of two references
  5. unofficial law school transcript
  6. writing sample (English-language, 10 pages maximum, excerpts acceptable)

Application materials should be consolidated into a single PDF file in the order listed above and received by November 1, 2017 at 5:00pm.


Due to limited resources, candidates are strongly encouraged to seek other funding sources, such as their law school’s public interest law centers, local bar foundations and Equal Justice America.



  • Current or recent enrollment in a law degree program (JD, LLM, or equivalent)
  • Eligibility to intern in the United States
  • Excellent analytical, research and writing skills as demonstrated by academic record and/or writing sample(s)
  • Demonstrated commitment to human rights and social justice
  • Knowledge of the international legal system
  • Strong capacity to work independently and with people from diverse backgrounds, including partner organizations


  • Work experience prior to law school

Not required but will be considered assets for some positions:

  • Fluency and/or ability to conduct legal and human rights research in another language-particularly Spanish, French, Haitian Kreyol, Swahili, and/or Arabic
  • Experience with litigation in national, regional, or international bodies
  • Quantitative research skills
  • Systematic qualitative research skills, e.g., content coding, focus groups
  • Training or experience in psychology or mental health
  • Training or experience in journalism
  • Knowledge of earth sciences, especially hydrology or geology
  • Knowledge of extractive industries (oil, mining, and gas)
  • Knowledge of international financial institutions
  • Interest in corporate accountability or business and human rights

Applications from persons of color, LGBTQI persons, women, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged.

Justice Works: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Community Justice

The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice is hosting a public convening called Justice Works: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Community Justice on Tuesday October 3rd from 5-7pm in Milstein East C. Details in the poster below.



Community justice is the process of building public policy by incorporating the voices, knowledge and aspirations of individuals living and working in communities decimated by decades of disinvestment, neglect over-policing and prosecutorial excess.

This event marks the Houston Institute’s first dedicated public convening specifically addressing the practice of community justice. The panel is organized around a report by the Oregon Justice Resource Center entitled, “Disrupting Mass Incarceration at the Local Level.”

We expect this to be a wide-ranging, informative discussion and hope you can join us.


  • Aramis AyalaState Attorney, 9thJudicial Court for the State of Florida
  • Lillie A. EstesCommunity Strategist, ALO Community Strategy, RePHRAME and Community Justice Film Series
  • Kate GonsalvesPolitical Director, Oregon Justice Resource Center
  • Katherine StantonAmherst College ‘18; CHHIRJ Intern

Free and open to the public
Please RSVP at Charleshamiltonhouston.org 

Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy

Exciting event/webcast at the Berkman Klein Center tomorrow, connected to the Justice Lab paper on the American Student Debt Crisis, with a focus on for-profit colleges:


More than two million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges, from the small family-run operations to the behemoths brandished on billboards, subway ads, and late-night commercials. In Lower Ed Tressie McMillan Cottom parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry to show how it is part and parcel of the growing inequality plaguing the country today. McMillan Cottom discloses the shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies that these schools deploy and explains how, despite the well-documented predatory practices of some and the campus closings of others, ending for-profit colleges won’t end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century. 

Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed tells the story of the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of a for-profit education. It is a story about broken social contracts; about education transforming from a public interest to a private gain; and about all Americans and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society.

Friday, June 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Room 1010
RSVP required to attend in person
Event will be live webcast at 12:00 pm


Historic Harris County Decision

On April 28th, Judge Lee H. Rosenthal issued an unprecedented 193-page ruling, holding that the Harris County money bail system is unconstitutional. The judge considered hundreds of exhibits, thousands of videos, hundreds of thousands of records, and numerous live expert and factual witnesses over an eight-day trial. She concluded that the Harris County’s bail system unfairly punishes the poor by ignoring individuals’ ability to pay bail. The court would arbitrarily set bail based and often ignored recommendations to release non-violent people on personal bonds.

In closing, Judge Rosenthal wrote, “In Harris County, they may be homeless. They may lack family, friends, and [people in their lives willing to bail them out]. Some are, no doubt, of bad reputation and present a risk of nonappearance or of new criminal activity. But they are not without constitutional rights to due process and the equal protection of the law.”

Going forward, Harris County will have to ask all those arrested on misdemeanor charges about their financial situation. If a person is eligible for release, they must be released on unsecured money bond. The decision will apply to over 50,000 misdemeanor arrestees in Harris County every year.

“The opinion destroys the supposed justifications of the American wealth-based pretrial detention system in devastating factual and legal detail,” stated Alex Karakatsanis, the lead attorney for Civil Rights Corps, which represents one of the plaintiffs. “In my view, it is a turning point for our criminal legal system.”