Legal Fellow

  • Full Time
  • Anywhere

Job title: Legal Fellow

Location: Washington, D.C. preferred; remote work on case-by-case basis

Classification: One-year full-time fellowship, with possible renewal for second year

Organization: Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY)

Due: Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled

Position Available: August 2021


Overview of the position:

The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is growing! Founded in 2009, the CFSY has continued to expand its reach and impact over the past decade, including to create opportunities for formerly incarcerated youth to thrive as adults and lead in their communities.

The Legal Fellow will work on our Legal & Policy team, and will focus primarily on the CFSY’s response to Jones v. Mississippi, as well as working to implement recently passed legislation modifying sentencing laws for those under the age of 18. The Legal Fellow will frequently work with external partners to identify pending litigation, resource needs, and impacted individuals. The Legal Fellow reports to the Senior Litigation Counsel.

Primary Responsibilities:

Jones v. Mississippi

  • Track caselaw developments across the country post-Jones v. Mississippi 
  • Create resources (e.g., sample motions, briefs, etc.) for litigators nationwide, particularly resources related to as-applied 8th Amendment challenges
  • Update existing Resentencing Resource Kit in light of Jones
  • Identify potential training opportunities for judiciaries, attorneys, and other stakeholders
  • Identify potential avenues for relief beyond traditional litigation, such as potential clemency initiatives

Legislative Implementation

  • Following the enactment of a bill banning life without parole for children, the Legal Fellow will work with local partners to identify the individuals impacted by the bill and track outcomes at resentencing and/or parole
  • Identify needs among local advocates (e.g., pro bono counsel, parole board training, etc.)
  • As needed, coordinate and facilitate pro bono representation, training programs, and state specific resource development 
  • Identify directly impacted individuals (formerly incarcerated people, family members, survivors of youth violence) to connect with CFSY’s broader networks.

The Legal Fellow will also be asked to fulfill other tasks and responsibilities as needed to support a growing organization.


The ideal candidate will have a J.D., experience with criminal law and criminal legal systems (including law school clinics and internships), organizational and computer literacy (Outlook, Google Apps, video conferencing), as well as excellent writing abilities and attention to detail. Strong interest in criminal justice issues, particularly progressive reform to harsh juvenile sentencing practices in the United States, racial discrimination in juvenile justice, and/or human rights in the United States, is required.

Beliefs and Traits:

  • Passionate about ending the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole and other extreme penalties;
  • Belief that our society has failed the children impacted by life without parole and other extreme sentences and that we all have a responsibility to create avenues for their restoration and that of our entire community;
  • Belief in the inherent good, dignity and humanity of all people regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, class, education level, zip code and more; and belief that every one of us is more than the worst things we’ve done or experienced;
  • Self-motivated and able to direct and implement own responsibilities; takes initiatives within guidelines of department structure, workplan and responsibilities;
  • An orientation towards planning ahead, collaborating and organizing with others to implement plans and achieve outcomes;
  • Flexible, willing and able to adapt to the evolving nature of CFSY’s work and programming;
  • Personable, and has a sense of humor; and
  • Prioritizes self-care.

Location and Travel:

CFSY’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C., with many staff working remotely throughout the country. There is a preference for the Legal Fellow to be based at the headquarters in Washington, D.C. although the Legal Fellow may also work remotely if needed. This person will likely travel periodically, for instance to a state litigator training or the CFSY’s national convening. All business related travel will be paid for by CFSY in accordance with our travel policy.

Physical Environment and Equipment:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • The work is performed primarily in an office setting, with moderate background noise and requiring the ability to sit and/or stand at a workstation for extended periods of time;
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to: communicate effectively, and operate a computer and telephone;
  • Specific vision abilities include close vision requirements due to computer work and letters;
  • Ability to effectively use a telephone, including mobile phone; computer (with Microsoft and Google applications); keyboard; and video conferencing.

Compensation, Benefits, and Culture:

The Legal Fellow effective annual salary is $55,000. The CFSY also offers a generous benefits package, including: four weeks of annual paid vacation and accrued sick time; 100% employer‐paid premiums for an individual health insurance plan, life and disability insurance; an Employee Assistance Program; the option for an 8-week sabbatical after five consecutive years of employment; and a 403(b) retirement plan. This position is full‐time and non-exempt.

The CFSY believes in and actively practices meaningful connection to individuals directly impacted by extreme prison sentences. Through our Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network (“ICAN”) and National Family Network (“NFN”), we work in deep partnership with people currently in prison, those who have been released, and their family and social networks. Together we work to change hearts, minds, and laws, and secure the resources needed to thrive. All staff at the CFSY, regardless of role and position, engage in this connection and are regularly proximite to those directly impacted by the work we do.

How To Apply:

Email in a single attachment: a letter of interest, resume, names and contact information for at least three references, and an original, unedited writing sample to in PDF format. Use “Legal Fellow” as the subject of your email and please format your PDF attachment “LAST NAME_Legal Fellow.” Only complete applications will be reviewed. Applications will be received on a rolling basis, and the position will remain open until filled. No phone calls.

The CFSY is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion; for more information please see our Racial Justice Belief Statement. People of color, individuals with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and those with personal experience in the juvenile or criminal justice systems are strongly encouraged to apply.

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