Law Clerks

Law Clerks

Law Clerks
- Fall, Spring, Summer

Paid, volunteer, and for-credit positions available

 

Who We Are

Disability Rights California (“DRC”) is a nonprofit, public interest law firm, established in 1978 to protect the legal, civil, and service rights of people with all types of disabilities. We are the designated Protection and Advocacy agency for California, and the largest disability rights organization in the country.

Our Legal Advocacy Unit (“LAU”) collaborates state-wide to represent Californians with disabilities. drc has offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno, Los Angeles, Ontario, and San Diego. The LAU is comprised of seven Practice Groups, each specializing in their own practice area. See below for more information about our Practice Groups.

Current Positons

The Law Clerk Position

Law students will find working with drc a challenging and rewarding experience. Law clerks are typically assigned to one or two Practice Groups within the LAU and Investigations Unit. Each law clerk will collaborate with their Practice Group to serve clients across the state. While we do our best to assign supervision in the same office, at times, remote supervision is necessary to provide law clerks opportunities within a particular Practice Group. At this time, all DRC employees and law clerks are working remotely. Depending on their assigned Practice Group, law clerks may gain experience with:

  • Interviewing clients and consumers.
  • Providing counsel and advice on self-advocacy.
  • Legal research and writing.
  • Legislative analysis and writing.
  • Representation at mediation and administrative hearings at school districts, universities, regional centers, Social Security offices and others.
  • Assisting people with psychiatric disabilities in locked facilities to ensure the enforcement of their federal, state, constitutional and statutory rights.
  • Assisting clients file charges of discrimination with U.S. Office for Civil Rights for the Department of Education, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Assisting in the investigation of systemic and potentially life-threatening abuse and neglect in state and private facilities serving people with psychiatric and developmental disabilities.
  • Conducting trainings on the law and multicultural outreach.

Although a limited number of paid positions are available, preference is given to work-study, for-credit law clerks, and law clerks with outside funding. This position is open to any current law student who will have completed the equivalent of their 1st or 2nd year of law school by the first day of the clerkship.

Summer law clerk positions are a 10-week commitment and generally begin the first business day in June for a 37.5-hour week.

Semester law clerk positions, and their time commitments, are driven by student interest and Practice Group need. Please follow the application instructions below, and include your requested time commitment and practice area in your cover letter.

Note to Post-Graduates: those interested in post-graduate positions should consider applying for drc-hosted fellowship positions through Skadden, Equal Justice Works, and similar programs. drc will post sponsorship opportunities as they become available. drc also accepts law clerk applications from post-graduate individuals looking for a temporary position between taking the Bar Exam and receiving Bar Exam results (Fall and Spring). Please follow the application guidelines above and include in your cover letter your requested time commitment and practice area.

How to Apply

Interested applicants should send a cover letter indicating a preference for practice group, time commitment, and office location, resume, and brief writing sample (10 pages maximum) to the law clerk coordinators at LawClerks@disabilityrightsca.org. If selected for an interview, please be prepared to provide references (with telephone numbers) and unofficial transcripts.

drc Practice Groups

The Legal Advocacy Unit includes:

  • Civil Rights: specializes in disability discrimination law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Amendments Act, and litigates complex discrimination cases statewide. We recognize that social integration and empowerment for people with disabilities is the ultimate solution to the discrimination issues that we address, and focus on cases that make these solutions attainable.
  • Healthcare/Home & Community-Based Services: works to ensure that people with disabilities have access to essential health care services and a full range of community long-term services and supports to enable them to live in the community and avoid institutionalization.  We believe healthcare is a human right, and fight to preserve that right with our community partners.
  • Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities: works to enforce and advance the rights of Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to live, work, and play in community settings. Our staff specializes in the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Service Act and the regional center system, and provides legal assistance to individuals with I/DD.
  • Mental Health: advocates for Californians with a mental health diagnosis. We work in institutions to keep individuals free from abuse and neglect and protect their legal rights in mental health facilities, including county-funded facilities and state hospitals. We work in jails, juvenile facilities and detention centers to improve conditions, eliminate unnecessary isolation and segregation and secure adequate medical and mental health treatment. We work to increase community mental health treatment and housing for individuals, to avoid unnecessary institutionalization or homelessness. We also work to protect the rights of patients, including to confidentiality, due process and voluntary treatment.
  • Pathways to Work: provides advocacy services to people experiencing disability-related barriers to employment. Through the Client Assistance Program (CAP), we assist people with difficulties seeking or receiving vocational rehabilitation services from the Department of Rehabilitation, independent living centers or other Rehabilitation Act funded programs.
  • Voting Rights: VRPG advocates to ensure that voting is accessible for people with disabilities statewide. The VRPG provides voting rights trainings; advocates to improve the voter registration process for people with disabilities; collaborates with election officials to improve voting accessibility; runs a hotline on election days and assists voters with election related complaints; pursues impact litigation on voting access issues; comments on election legislation; consults on accessible voting equipment; creates helpful publications for voters with disabilities and election officials; trains poll workers; and participates on disability-focused voting accessibility committees.
  • Youth: ensures students with disabilities benefit from the vast array of educational services and supports guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. YPG works to remove barriers for students with disabilities so they can learn, play, and participate in extracurricular activities in neighborhood schools with their peers. Our work includes due process and compliance complaints, litigation and systemic advocacy.
  • Investigations Unit: Attorneys and advocates in this unit use Disability Rights California’s access authority as the designated Protection and Advocacy Agency to conduct individual investigations and monitoring in nursing homes, jails, immigration detention centers, state psychiatric hospitals, state developmental centers, and community settings. The Investigations Unit pursues systemic reform through public policy measures. It effectively negotiates solutions for people with disabilities, and rarely engages in traditional litigation. The Investigations Unit’s projects include advocating for greater oversight of nursing homes, monitoring the detention of adults and immigrant children with disabilities, and working to end the overpolicing and criminalization of people with disabilities.

 

Housing Stability Project (HSP)

With the anticipated influx of evictions driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, drc aims to significantly expand our work to prevent the displacement of persons with disabilities, particularly those in low-income communities and communities of color. HSP operates primarily on a proper telephone clinic model to assist people with disabilities throughout California on issues impacting their housing with select cases receiving representation for negotiations or at administrative or judicial hearings to preserve income or housing. Our goal is to empower individuals with disabilities to advocate for their rights as tenants. We also work with unhoused people to identify needed services and overcome accessibility barriers.

HSP will also have social workers as part of the legal team to overcome barriers to housing stability. In addition to direct work with clients, we are adopting a multi-pronged approach by providing Know-Your-Rights training, workshops, advocating with government agencies and housing providers to improve access, and forming strategic partnerships with other service providers and community groups to leverage our resources and maximize the number of people we can assist.

How to Apply

Interested applicants should send a cover letter indicating a preference for practice group, time commitment, and office location, resume, and brief writing sample (10 pages maximum) to the law clerk coordinators at LawClerks@disabilityrightsca.org. If selected for an interview, please be prepared to provide references (with telephone numbers) and unofficial transcripts.