U.S. Bertha Justice Fellow

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U.S. Bertha Justice Fellow

Location: Washington, D.C.

EarthRights International, a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, is seeking a recent U.S. law graduate for a fellowship in our Washington, D.C., office.

Position: U.S. Office Bertha Justice Fellow (paid, two years full-time)
Deadline: January 25, 2019
Start date: September 2019
Reports to: Americas Regional Program Director & General Counsel
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: Approximately $50,000

Description: EarthRights International (ERI) is now seeking applications for the position of 2019-2021 U.S. Bertha Justice Fellow. This fellowship supported by the generosity of the Bertha Foundation, whose “Be Just” initiative is intended to give new attorneys a foundation in public interest legal work that will enable them to start careers in this field. The fellowship is geared toward attorneys with less than two years’ experience in public interest law.

Over the past 20 years, ERI has built a reputation as one of the leading legal organizations representing communities and individuals from around the world whose rights, livelihoods and homelands are harmed by corporations, financial institutions and governments. Our lawyers have worked closely with our clients, co-counsel, partner NGOs, campaigners and others to bring groundbreaking lawsuits and pursue legal advocacy to provide remedies and ensure legal accountability. Our cases have set legal precedents, brought millions of dollars of compensation to our clients, and changed the behavior of corporations and other institutions; one of our cases, Jam v. International Finance Corporation, was recently argued at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Bertha Justice Fellowship is an exciting opportunity to be a part of a dynamic and cutting-edge legal team. Under the guidance and direction of the Americas Regional Program Director & General Counsel, the Fellow will work with other ERI attorneys to develop and implement legal strategies to protect human rights and the environment. The Fellow will be based out of ERI’s U.S. office in Washington, D.C., but may work in coordination with legal staff in other country offices in Peru and Southeast Asia. Travel is possible as part of the fellowship, depending on the needs of ERI’s work. Because ERI is a nonprofit with limited resources, the Fellow may be expected to assist with shared administrative, development, and communications tasks as well. At times, the Fellow may be expected to work outside normal hours to complete projects and represent clients.

The basic job responsibilities include:

  • Legal research on U.S. law, international law, and other legal regimes
  • Preparation of legal memorandums, court briefs, and filings for U.S. and other legal systems
  • Work in collaboration with other NGOs and communities assist in the development of legal and advocacy strategies
  • Research on new legal strategies to defend the human rights and environment of vulnerable communities
  • Communication of ERI’s work through web content and media contacts
  • Policy advocacy with the U.S. legislative and executive branches

The Legal Fellow may also be asked to:

  • Travel domestically to court hearings, and appear in court on behalf of clients
  • Travel internationally to meet with victims, communities, and NGOs
  • Speak on behalf of ERI in various venues
  • Collaborate on ERI publications and assist in ERI events
  • Take initiative to develop and coordinate new projects
  • Supervise law student interns on legal research projects
  • Assist other ERI programs as needed, including shared administrative, development, and communications tasks

Qualifications:   All candidates must have:

  • A recent U.S. law degree and either admission to the bar of a U.S. state or an application in process
    • For foreign-trained lawyers, a U.S. LLM degree may qualify if the lawyer is admitted to a U.S. bar, or has an application in process, and is prepared to practice in the U.S.
  • A demonstrated commitment to using the U.S. legal system to serve vulnerable communities and/or protect human rights and the environment
  • Fewer than two years’ post-law-school experience working in this field

Additional desired qualifications include:

  • Proficiency in one or more languages other than English, especially Spanish, as well as Burmese (Myanmar), Thai, Portuguese, French, and/or Chinese
  • A background in international human rights law, international environmental law, corporate accountability, and/or indigenous peoples’ rights
  • Experience in regional studies, development, environmental sciences, or other fields related to issues of human rights, environmental protection and indigenous peoples
  • Experience with U.S. litigation
  • Knowledge and experience with regional and international legal mechanisms for the protection of human rights and the environment
  • Strong research and writing skills
  • Good judgment and initiative
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in teams
  • Experience or interest in working with people from diverse cultures
  • A good sense of humor

We offer:

  • Medical and dental insurance coverage
  • Retirement fund contribution
  • Paid vacation, sick and personal days
  • A casual, and fun, work environment

Duration: Full-time for 2 years beginning in September 2019.


Candidates should send an email with the subject line “U.S. Legal Fellow” to [email protected] with the following documents, in MS Word or PDF format. You must use the designated subject header, or your application may not be received:

  • Do not send a cover letter. Instead, send in a single document brief answers to the following questions, no more than 250 words each:
    • Why do you want to apply for this fellowship? In referring to any prior experiences or contacts, please do not identify your law school or any individual by name.
    • The fellowship is a two-year position, and ERI typically cannot hire fellows permanently following this. After the fellowship, how would you see yourself working to advance the issues that you care about?
    • If you had the power, what one change in law or policy would you make in order to advance the issues that you care about, and why?
  • Resume or CV (no longer than 2 pages)
  • 3-5 page sample or extract from a piece of legal writing without external editing
  • Do not send references. These may be requested at a later point in the process.
  • Once your application has been submitted, please go to this link and fill out the demographic survey questions: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JJFHX8K

This information will not be linked to your individual application in any way, but helps ERI evaluate our efforts at recruiting a diverse set of applicants.

We will acknowledge applications received, and will contact those candidates selected for the interview stage. Due to the volume of applications, not all applicants will receive an interview. Additional materials may be requested at later points in the process.

EarthRights International is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices, and actively encourages people of color, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQI people to apply.

For more information on the work of EarthRights International visit www.earthrights.org