Bertha Justice Legal Fellow (Paid)

Home / About Us / Careers / Bertha Justice Legal Fellow (Paid)

Bertha Justice Legal Fellow (Paid)

Location: Washington, DC

Position Title: Bertha Justice Legal Fellow (Paid)

Location: Washington, DC

Reports To: General Counsel

Start Date: September, 2021

Duration: Two Years

Application Deadline: December 18, 2020

Salary: $55,000

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 school graduate for a two-year paid fellowship in our Washington, DC, office starting September 2021.

Summary Description

EarthRights International (EarthRights) is now seeking applications for the position of 2021-2023 U.S. Bertha Justice Fellow. This fellowship is supported by the generosity of the Bertha Foundation, whose “Be Just” initiative is intended to “train the next generation of social justice and movement lawyers by funding two-year Fellowships at the best public interest law centers around the world, where emerging lawyers receive practical training from renowned professionals.” The fellowship is geared toward attorneys with less than two years’ experience in public interest law.

Over the past 20 years, EarthRights 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 survivors of human rights violations and industrial pollution, and changed the behavior of corporations and international institutions; a recent case, Jam v. International Finance Corporation, set important U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

The Bertha Justice Fellowship is an exciting opportunity to be part of a dynamic and cutting-edge legal team. Under the guidance and direction of the General Counsel, the Fellow will work with other EarthRights attorneys to develop and implement legal strategies to protect human rights and the environment. The Fellow will be based out of EarthRights’ Washington, DC office, 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 EarthRights’ work. Because EarthRights 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.

In addition to the experience provided through working as a member of the EarthRights legal team, the Fellows will gain experience as fully integrated members of our legal team while receiving substantive mentorship and training opportunities. Fellows will also have the opportunity to attend international meetings with other lawyers within the Bertha network.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Conduct legal research on U.S. law, international law, and other legal regimes.
  • Prepare legal memorandums, court briefs, and filings for U.S. and other legal systems.
  • Work in collaboration with partner NGOs and communities to assist in the development of legal and advocacy strategies.
  • Research new legal strategies to defend the human and environmental rights of frontline communities.
  • Communicate EarthRights’ work through web content and media contacts.
  • Conduct policy advocacy with the U.S. legislative and executive branches.

Responsibilities may also include

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

Required Qualifications and Experience

  • 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 United States
  • A demonstrated commitment to using the U.S. legal system to serve frontline communities and/or to protect human rights and the environment
  • Fewer than two years’ post-law-school experience working in public interest law (excluding judicial clerkships)
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work in teams
  • Strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Desired Skills and Experience

  • 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

Work Authorization

  • United States (required; EarthRights will cooperate in obtaining work authorization where necessary, but this is the responsibility of the applicant/fellow)


  • Employer-sponsored medical insurance (dependent coverage available)
  • 100% employer paid dental and vision insurance coverage (dependent coverage available)
  • 14 weeks paid maternity/paternity leave for eligible employees
  • 15 days of vacation & 9 sick days per year
  • 12 paid federal holidays; office closed from December 24 – January 1
  • Flexible Spending Plan (FSA)
  • Generous employer non elective retirement contribution
  • Employee wellness benefits and transportation benefits
  • A casual and fun work environment


  • This is a full-time two-year fellowship, beginning in September 2021. Full-time employment with EarthRights cannot be guaranteed at the end of the fellowship. 


By December 18, 2020, candidates should send an email with the subject line “U.S. Legal Fellow” to with the following documents, in MS Word or PDF format, each attached separately. 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. Do not write your name anywhere on the document. In referring to any prior experiences or contacts, please do not identify your law school or any individual by name. Please write in single-spaced, 12-point Garamond font, with 1-inch margins. 
    • Please share how your background and/or personal and professional experiences have shaped your most important values as a lawyer, and informed your decision to apply for this fellowship with EarthRights. 
    • Which areas of EarthRights’ work would you most like to focus on during your fellowship? After the two-year 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)
  • Transcript from U.S. law school (unofficial transcripts are okay). If there is anything on your transcript that you believe would benefit from further explanation, you may also submit an optional supplementary explanation (no more than 250 words).
  • 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: 

This information will not be linked to your individual application in any way, but helps EarthRights 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 by mid-December or early January. Interviews will be conducted in January. Due to the volume of applications, not all applicants will receive an interview. Additional materials may be requested at later points in the process. It is our intention to make initial offers by late February.

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