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Human Rights Internship/Externship Programs

SCHR’s Human Rights Internship/Externship Program provides undergraduate, graduate, and law students with hands-on training in all areas of capital defense, civil rights litigation, and public policy advocacy.

SCHR has three programs available to students:

  1. Summer Internship (Full-Time): a 10-week summer program open to undergraduate, graduate, and law students who are able to work full-time (40 hours per week), on-site, at our office in Atlanta. We do not allow “splitting” summers, although exceptions may be made for students whose school schedules conflict with our program.
  2. Fall or Spring Externship (Part-Time): a semester-long program open to undergraduate, graduate, and law students who are able to work part-time (10-20 hours per week), on-site, at our office in Atlanta.
  3. Fall or Spring Externship (Full-Time): a semester-long program open to 2L and 3L law students only who are able to work full-time (40 hours per week) for one semester, on-site, at our office in Atlanta. The student must receive school credit for this full-time externship.

Interns and externs assist staff attorneys in all aspects of our work. Depending on what needs to be done in our cases at a given time, interns should expect to do several of the following tasks while they are at SCHR:

  • conduct legal research and draft pleadings
  • write motions and briefs
  • research public policy issues and prepare policy reports
  • locate and interview witnesses
  • visit and interview clients
  • monitor court proceedings for human rights violations
  • represent incarcerated people before the Alabama parole board
  • participate in case strategy sessions
  • locate, obtain, and organize documents
  • gather statistical data
  • read and digest transcripts
  • assist in conducting inspections of jails and prisons
  • conduct social science and other research
  • assist in the location and preparing expert witnesses
  • research public policy issues and prepare policy reports
  • respond to requests for information from the public or people in prison
  • attend depositions, press conferences, court hearings, and arguments

We give our interns and externs a great deal of responsibility and they have been instrumental in many of our successes. For example, law students researched and helped draft portions of a brief to the United States Supreme Court in Snyder v. Louisiana, which was later argued by former SCHR President and Senior Counsel Stephen Bright. Student assistance in investigating prison conditions have led to court orders and settlements that have greatly improved the lives of thousands of incarcerated men and women in Georgia and Alabama. Students have also influenced the state lawmaking process by tracking legislation, drafting talking points and factsheets, engaging in regular communications with partners, and participating in the development and execution of public policy campaigns at the Georgia state capitol.

We expect our interns and externs to be committed, work hard, have fun, and learn a great deal. Students can expect to gain substantive background knowledge on SCHR’s work, including the legal and procedural aspects of the death penalty appellate process, the legal grounds for prisoners’ rights cases, and the process of tracking and influencing the legislative process. SCHR’s small staff size ensures that all interns and externs receive regular supervision and support. Upon completion of assignments, students review their findings with the attorneys and develop follow up action plans.

During the summer, SCHR provides interns with a multiple-day orientation and training program. Additional summer training sessions include brown-bag lunchtime talks, film screenings, and joint activities with other organizations engaged in similar work. During the school year, SCHR offers a shorter orientation and training program in order to accommodate students’ part-time schedules.

SCHR’s internship program prioritizes hands-on work in the field and in the community, in addition to research and writing. Our interns and externs are often asked to travel alone throughout Georgia and Alabama, to visit clients in jails and prisons, to speak to witnesses, and to observe court proceedings. Interns and externs with a vehicle will be expected to use their own car but will be reimbursed for mileage. Those who do not own a car will be permitted to use an office car or rental car, covered by SCHR. Interns and externs without a license will be limited to in-office projects involving research and writing. SCHR will pay for all business-related travel expenses, including car rental, mileage reimbursement, lodging, and food.

Application Window/Deadlines

Please strictly adhere to the following application windows. We will not consider your application if you submit prior to the application window opening or after the application window is closed. Interviews will be scheduled for each group after the application window closes.

NOTE: We have extended the application period for 2L applicants for Summer 2024. The deadline is now October 20.

  • Spring Externship (Part-Time and Full-Time): apply between September 1 – September 30 for all students.
  • Summer Internship (Full-Time)
    • 2L Law Students: apply between September 1 – October 20.
    • 1L Law Students: apply between December 1 – December 31.
    • Graduates and Undergraduates: apply between December 1 – December 31.
  • Fall Externship (Part-Time and Full-Time): apply between February 1 – February 28 for all students.

Summer Funding

We ask that students seek summer funding from their law school’s public interest programs and other appropriate sources. At its discretion, SCHR may provide limited funding on the basis of need to those who are unable to secure funding from other sources.

Elisabeth Ruyter Undergraduate Summer Fellowship

Undergraduates may apply for summer funding through the Elisabeth Ruyter Fellowship. Elisabeth Ruyter believed strongly in social justice, and with this fellowship, the Ruyter family supports the pipeline of social justice advocates by reducing financial barriers that would prevent passionate students from being able to experience the rewards and possibilities of social justice legal careers.

The successful applicant will receive a $5,000 stipend to cover their summer expenses. To qualify, the undergraduate applicant must currently receive need-based financial aid (e.g. Federal Pell Grant; Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant; Direct Subsidized Loans; Federal Perkins Loan; Federal Work-Study). To apply, please select the “Summer 2022 – Elisabeth Ruyter Fellowship” option on the online application form. By selecting this option, you are confirming that you qualify for this scholarship.

To Apply

Please visit the following link to apply: Internship/Externship Application

The Southern Center for Human Rights is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. SCHR does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, disability, or sexual orientation. SCHR encourages applications from minorities, women, and other groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession.