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 DRC’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.

 

Voting Rights Law Clerk – Fall 2021

DRC is looking for a fall extern or paid law clerk for our Voting Rights Practice Group (“VRPG”). The 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.

Law students find working with DRC a challenging and rewarding experience. The law clerk will collaborate with the Voting Rights Practice Group to serve clients across the state. At this time, all DRC employees and law clerks are working remotely. 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.
  • Conducting trainings on the law and multicultural outreach.

Competitive applicants will (1) demonstrate a clear understanding of the work of DRC and the Voting Rights Practice Group, (2) articulate why they are interested in disability rights work, and (3) articulate why they’re interested in working for the Voting Rights Practice Group.

Desired qualification include experience working with clients, including individuals with disabilities, excellent research and writing skills, and previous policy, voting rights, or organizing experience.

Minimum 15 hours per week. Anticipated commitment, with some flexibility: August 9, 2021 until December 10, 2021.

How to Apply

Interested applicants should send a resume, brief writing sample (10 pages maximum), and cover letter indicating a preference for office location, 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.

 

2022 Fellowship Sponsorship Opportunity

Disability Rights California (DRC), the state’s designated protection and advocacy agency, seeks eligible* candidates for collaboration on Skadden, Equal Justice Works, and/or other public interest fellowship applications for the two-year period beginning fall 2022.

DRC invites proposals related to the work of our Advocacy and Community Engagement Practice Group, which provides direct legal services to individuals with disabilities and conducts outreach, community organizing, and collaborates with other agencies on statewide projects. The fellow could be based out of any of our regional offices, including Sacramento, Orange County, Fresno, Oakland, Los Angeles, or San Diego.

The Advocacy and Community Engagement Practice Group is specifically looking for a fellow to help build a disaster response and emergency preparedness practice. This is an emerging and important area of law and the Fellow will be at the forefront of establishing and running a program that DRC hopes to sustain in the future.

California has experienced several catastrophic disasters recently, including devastating wildfires, ongoing power shut offs, and the pandemic. People with disabilities are uniquely impacted during and after these disasters. During an event, people with disabilities require accessible alerts and communication, evacuation procedures and sites, access to medication and other equipment, and a seamless transition home. Access to critical medical care and appropriate services is interrupted and returning home or work is impacted by a variety of factors.

DRC would like to build a disaster legal practice that serves the disability community before, during and after an emergency event. A fellow will work with a variety of other legal service agencies and community-based organizations to work on outreach, policy advocacy, and directly represent clients in a variety of settings. We would like this project to specifically focus on rural and under/unserved communities.

In addition to satisfying the fellowship’s eligibility criteria, the applicant should have strong legal research, writing, and oral advocacy skills, a demonstrated commitment to public interest law, and a desire to make an impact in the disability community.

Applications must be submitted to DRC via talent@disabilityrightsca.org by Monday, July 19, 2021. Your application must include:

  • Detailed cover letter describing your interest in collaborating with DRC on a project-based fellowship application
  • Resume
  • Transcript
  • Writing Sample
  • List of three references

If you have questions about this opportunity please contact Robert Borrelle, Supervising Attorney, by phone at (213) 213-8000 or by email at Robert.Borrelle@disabilityrightsca.org.

* Eligible applicants generally must receive their law degree before September 2022 and may not have held a full-time, permanent, public interest lawyer position previously. For specific eligibility requirements, please consult the Skadden and Equal Justice Works websites.