2018 Bertha Justice Fellowships


From taking on the NYPD’s racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk program to challenging indefinite detention and torture at Guantánamo, the Center for Constitutional Rights has been on the front lines of the fight for social justice for 50 years. We’re a multiracial, diverse staff committed to building the power of the people and communities we represent. Whether it’s immigration detention, solitary confinement, the Movement for Black Lives, Muslim profiling, or Palestinian human rights, we fight for civil and human rights though creative use of litigation and advocacy.

In 2012, CCR launched the Bertha Justice Fellowship to deepen our work training the next generation of “people’s lawyers.”


The Bertha Justice Fellowship is a two-year program for emerging lawyers (0-2 years out of law school) who are interested in gaining both practical experience working on CCR cases and a theoretical understanding of how legal advocacy can create social change. CCR will host four Bertha Fellows, starting in September 2018. This position requires a two-year commitment from September 2018 to September 2020.

The Bertha Fellows will be assigned to work alongside lawyers in one of our three docket areas: (1) Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative; (2) Government Misconduct/Racial Justice; and (3) International Human Rights.  There may also be opportunities to do work that straddles different dockets.

Bertha Fellows at CCR are sponsored by the Bertha Foundation, which hosts emerging lawyers at several legal organizations across the world. In addition to gaining legal experience on CCR cases, Bertha Fellows at CCR will have opportunities to (1) attend regional and international meetings, (2) network with lawyers from around the world, and (3) receive additional mentoring and non-traditional training such as leadership, media and advocacy, activism, and movement building.


  • Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative (GGJI): GGJI attorneys are at the forefront in challenging extrajudicial detention, torture, and abuse at Guantánamo and related domestic and international outposts of the executive branch’s “war on terror”.  GGJI attorneys challenge executive branch practices premised on expansive conceptions of wartime executive authority, as well as long-standing racism and xenophobia, including indefinite and preventive detention, military commissions, targeted killings, and abusive interrogations. Representative work includes:Ba Odah v. Obama, Al Qahtani v. Trump, Tanvir v. Tanzin, Hassan v. City of New York, Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta.
  • International Human Rights (IHR): The IHR team focuses on litigation and advocacy in U.S. courts, foreign courts, and international fora to press the U.S. government, foreign government officials, corporations, and other private actors to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law. Their work also includes providing support to international human rights activists, including Palestinian solidarity activists. Representative work includes: Al-Shimari v. CACI, Awad v. Fordham University, Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively, SNAP v. the Pope, Right to Heal, Davis v. Cox, Accountability for U.S. Torture Program under Universal Jurisdiction.
  • Government Misconduct/Racial Justice (GMRJ): GMRJ attorneys develop creative litigation and advocacy projects in areas such as: racial justice; economic and social rights; the government’s criminalization of dissent; mass incarceration; immigrant justice; policing; national security; gender equality; and LGBTQ rights. Representative work includes: Al Otro Lado v. U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Floyd v. City of New York, United States v. Johnson, Aref v. Sessions, Ashker v. Governor of California, Vulcan Society v. City of New YorkImmigrant Defense Project v. ICE, Color of Change v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Furlow v. Belmar, Doe v. Hood, Ziglar v. Abbasi.

See here for descriptions of all our cases, issues or projects.


Qualified candidates should visit the website to submit an online application. Applicants may apply for a Bertha Fellowship in more than one docket area, but you must complete a separate application for each docket. Please be sure to tailor your application materials to the docket you are applying for. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, and strong consideration will be given to early applications. No phone calls please.

Applications are strongly encouraged from candidates reflecting diverse educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds. CCR is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, and we encourage applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, LGBT, and gender non-conforming people.

Note: Due to the large number of applications we expect to receive, we will only contact those applicants who are selected for an interview. 


The deadline for submission is October 9, 2017.

Recommendation letters are due by October 16, 2017.

Interviews for selected candidates will occur in November and early December 2017.

We expect to make Fellowship offers by January 2018.

Start date will be September 24, 2018.



2. Essay: (Maximum length: 1,000 words, double-spaced) Effective essays will incorporate the following information:
a) What unique background, beliefs, values, and/or experiences (personal and professional) shaped your decision to go to law school and your interests in participating in the Bertha Fellowship program at CCR?

b) Please describe your specific interest in our IHR, GGJI or GMRJ docket.

c) How do you expect participation in the Bertha Fellowship program at CCR to contribute to your long-term personal and professional goals?

d) What is your understanding of CCR’s goals and needs, and how do you see yourself contributing to our effectiveness? Describe how your education, experience, and skills match our needs and goals.

3. Legal writing sample(excerpt not to exceed 10 pages) – At the top of your writing sample, provide a two-sentence description of the writing sample.

4. Names and contact information for three (3) references(two can be the same as the individuals who wrote your letter of recommendation).

5. Two letters of recommendation submitted via email. Letters must be received by October 16, 2017 to be considered. Your recommender must put the following information in their e-mail subject line: “Fellow’s Last Name, First Name –Letter of Recommendation.”


  • Work with staff attorneys in conceiving, developing, and managing complex litigation that advances CCR’s organizational mission, including developing case theory, conducting factual and legal research, identifying appropriate clients, pursuing appropriate and strategic litigation opportunities, and filing claims in domestic and international fora.
  • Work with staff attorneys in all aspects of litigation, including drafting pleadings, briefs, affidavits and correspondence; assist attorneys in their taking and defending depositions; assist attorneys in managing complex discovery, conducting negotiations with opposing counsel, appearing in court, and examining witnesses; assist attorneys in negotiating, implementing, and monitoring settlement agreements.
  • Work with staff attorneys and advocacy program managers in the development and implementation of advocacy strategies in support of CCR clients, cases, and/or projects. Engage in public outreach and education efforts including drafting or reviewing of advocacy materials (such as reports, FAQs, action alerts), participation in legislative efforts, and public speaking. Engage with community groups, cooperating attorneys, co-counsel, progressive lawyers, law students, legal groups, and other allies as appropriate and directed by supervising attorneys.
  • Support all aspects of CCR communications department activity including reviewing press materials, responding to press inquiries, appearing in various media interviews, timely opinion drafting, review, and editing as appropriate.
  • Work with and supervise student interns and volunteers; where appropriate support work of pro bono or cooperating counsel assisting on CCR cases and projects.
  • Assist Development department in managing individual and foundation relationships, including development and review of grant proposals, participation in donor meetings, fundraising and donor appreciation activities, and periodic out-of-state travel for development trips and activities.
  • Participate in Bertha Network activities, including attendance at Bertha Network conferences abroad and publication of materials, including blogs for the Bertha Network.
  • Participate in trainings designed for the Bertha Fellows to strengthen their litigation and movement lawyering skills.
  • Participate in departmental and organizational planning and organization-wide committees and carry out work assigned.
  • Obtain bar membership in New York and maintain good standing in New York and other state bars as appropriate, including fulfilling requirements for continuing legal education (CLE) and, where necessary, security clearance.
  • Other related work as requested by the Legal Director.


  • J.D. degree as of start date.
  • 0-2 years out of law school. This means you received your Juris Doctor in 2016, 2017 or will receive it in 2018.
  • Commitment to the mission and goals of CCR.
  • A demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding.
  • Excellent research, writing, and verbal communication skills.
  • Self-starter with excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Proven ability to work independently as well as within a team.
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice and human rights and creativity in crafting strategies to advance justice in CCR’s priority areas.
  • Commitment to working in and with communities affected by government misconduct and discrimination among other structures of institutional oppression.
  • Integrity and a sense of humor.
  • Willingness to travel.
  • Non-English language skills a plus.
  • Willingness and ability to apply for a security clearance (only required for GGJI docket).


Salary is commensurate with experience and subject to union collective bargaining agreement. The current salary range for this position is $69,779 to $81,893.

Benefits include employer contribution to 401K plan and flexible spending account, vacation, sick leave, and holidays, and 100 percent organization-paid health benefits, including medical, dental, life, and long-term disability insurance.

Visit the website for any other details.