Deadline date

July 10, 2020

The ACLU-PA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest organization, dedicated to defending and enhancing personal freedoms protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights through litigation, legislative advocacy, and community education. It is a fast-paced environment that addresses headline-making issues with powerful personal stories and dynamic, precedent-setting solutions. The ACLU-PA has three offices, ten volunteer chapters, over 40,000 members and donors, more than 35 employees, and a $5.3 million operating budget.


ACLU-PA seeks creative applicants for a sponsored fellowship such as Skadden, Equal Justice Works, the Independence Foundation, or a similar public interest fellowship to begin in the fall of 2021. ACLU-PA is interested in sponsoring one candidate in its Philadelphia office to work on projects promoting probation and parole reform in Pennsylvania and help build the ACLU-PA’s capacity in this field.

Pennsylvania has the highest incarceration rate in the Northeast and the second highest rate of community supervision in the country. Probation and parole violations drive Pennsylvania’s mass incarceration crisis—probation revocations send thousands of people to state prison each year and probation detainers lodged against those charged with, but not convicted of, probation violations hold thousands in pretrial status. Like most aspects of the criminal legal system, probation and parole practices have a disparate impact on individuals of color. Empirical research has demonstrated that Black people on probation are subjected to revocation at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. 

Pennsylvania's lengthy probation sentences are unnecessary and disproportionate compared with the rest of the country. Furthermore, when charged with violating probation or parole, defendants are often not afforded the protections guaranteed by statute, the rules of criminal procedure or the constitution. Broad reform of probation and parole practices is needed to address Pennsylvania’s mass incarceration crisis. 

We anticipate a project that will combine direct representation (likely in collaboration with one or more local public defender’s offices) with advocacy to both educate judges, attorneys, and probation/parole officers about the relevant legal requirements that govern probation and parole revocation proceedings and push for statewide reforms. The fellow will also seek opportunities for impact litigation based on both the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution. The fellow will also work closely with community organizers, activists, and directly impacted individuals who help inform and guide this work.

ACLU-PA staff will work with the candidate to develop a proposal for submission. Members of the Class of 2021, current judicial law clerks, or other eligible fellowship applicants are encouraged to apply.


  • Graduation from an ABA-accredited law school prior to starting the fellowship
  • Completion of at least one state bar exam (preferably Pennsylvania) prior to starting the fellowship
  • Excellent research and writing skills
  • Ability to work independently and manage a varied and demanding workload
  • Demonstrated commitment to civil rights and criminal justice issues
  • A demonstrated commitment to racial equity and the ability to collaboratively engage with a diverse group of community-based organizations and take direction from directly impacted people 


  • Interest in and experience with criminal law and criminal procedure preferred
  • Knowledge of Pennsylvania court procedures a plus


To apply, send a cover letter, resume, legal writing sample (brevity appreciated), transcript, and references to legalsearch@aclupa.org. Please include your last name and “Legal Fellowship” in the subject line subject line of the e-mail.


The ACLU-PA is an equal opportunity employer.  We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU-PA encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, or record of arrest or conviction.

The ACLU-PA comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union (the “Union”) of Pennsylvania and the ACLU Foundation (the “Foundation”) of Pennsylvania. The Union is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, and ACLU membership dues fund its lobbying work. Donations to the Union are not tax-deductible. The ACLU Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Foundation funds support litigation and public education efforts. Donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible. The Legal Fellow is an employee of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Both the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the ACLU Foundation of Pennsylvania have the same overall mission, and share office space, employees, and the same board of directors. The two entities are jointly known by the term “ACLU of Pennsylvania.”

ACLU-PA’s hiring process will comply with Philadelphia’s Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards (“Ban the Box”) ordinance.