Open Society Foundations, Open Society Justice Initiative Seeks two Litigation Fellows

Application deadline: January 1, 2012

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, the Foundations seek to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, the Open Society Foundations implement a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, we build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. The Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.

The Open Society Justice Initiative seeks to recruit two deferred junior lawyers as Litigation Fellows for a 12 month placement, one with a beginning in February 2012, the other in August 2012. Such a placement provides a unique opportunity for a junior lawyer to acquire direct experience in strategic human rights litigation at a global level, preparing cases in all the regional human rights tribunals on a wide variety of legal issues.

This position is designed to allow for junior lawyers on sabbatical from a law firm or with fellowship funding to work with a public interest organization for a period of 12 months for which they will be reimbursed by the law firm or fellowship funder.

Purpose of Position:  

Acquire direct experience in strategic human rights litigation at a global level, preparing cases in all the regional human rights tribunals on a wide variety of legal issues. Work is carried out independently/under general supervision.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities (include the following. OSI may add, change, or remove essential and other duties at any time):

  • Undertake research and prepare ‘mapping’ memos on new litigation opportunities, including preparing country studies, analyzing political and economic developments, conducting surveys of civil society and international organization activities;
  • Write legal memos on topics in preparation for litigation;
  • Liaise with law clinics, pro-bono attorneys and consultants;
  • Assist with the preparation of legal drafts, direct drafting, and fact checking and cite checking;
  • Collate authorities in support of litigation and prepare summaries;
  • Conduct all-source research via websites, Lexis/Nexis, foreign source materials, academic studies, oral interviews of experts, legal and political documents, Library of Congress materials, etc;
  • Attend scheduled staff conference calls and relevant meetings hosted by think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, government briefings, etc;
  • Assist with the development of web-site and advocacy materials as needed;
  • Assist with the development of internal continuing legal education materials;
  • Perform other duties as assigned.


Law Degree and minimum of one year of relevant experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience. Study of human rights law at post-graduate level.

Skills Required:

  • Proven ability to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment; to troubleshoot and follow projects through to completion, consistently on schedule, without loss of attention to detail and budget;
  • Excellent written, verbal, organizational, analytical and interpersonal skills;
  • Excellent computer skills, proficient in Microsoft Office and experience with internet research;
  • Excellent listening and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences;
  • Show discretion and ability to handle confidential issues;
  • High level of self-motivation and at ease working independently when necessary;
  • Poised, work well under pressure and attentive to detail;
  • Flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously on a wide range of tasks and projects and ability to prioritize tasks;
  • Pleasant, diplomatic manner and disposition in interacting with senior management, co-workers and the general public.

Program Specific Requirements:

  • Very strong research, writing and analytic abilities;
  • Knowledge of French, Spanish, German or Italian a distinct advantage;
  • Advanced computer research, database management and word processing skills, including web searching and Lexis/Nexis.

Upon acceptance, the litigation fellow will need to provide a letter from their university/law firm indicating that they are receiving credit and/or funding for the fellowship.


One year, starting February 2012. (job code: LF-OSJI/F)
One year, starting August 2012. (job code: LF-OSJI/A)

Compensation: Unpaid, lunch provided.

To Apply:

Please email resume and cover letter before January 1, 2012. Include job code in subject line.

No phone calls, please.