ABA Center for Human Rights - Summer 2024 Paid Legal Intern

Washington, DC, USA Req #1556
Thursday, February 8, 2024

The American Bar Association (ABA) was founded on a commitment to advance the rule of law in the United States and beyond by providing practical resources for legal professionals, conducting law school accreditation, developing model ethics codes and more. Today, the ABA remains a member-based organization that works to ensure access to justice for all, a fair legal process, and respect for the rule of law at home and across the globe.


The ABA is committed to service and refining the standards that guide the legal profession. ABA staff are provided multiple types of continuing education and career development opportunities. Your work will help eliminate bias, enhance diversity, and advance the rule of law throughout the US and around the world.


The ABA recognizes the value staff contribute to our success through a generous benefits package that protects their health and their financial security.  The ABA’s wide array of benefit offerings include 401(k), medical, dental, vision, flexible spending accounts, health spending accounts, supplemental life and disability insurance, prepaid legal programs, and a complimentary membership to the American Bar Association, which offers additional benefits.

Flexible/hybrid work arrangements may be available for residents of CA, DC, IL, IN, IA, MD, MI, MN, TX, VA, and WI.  Residency requirements may apply. ABA employees are eligible to apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). 

The American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights is the ABA’s focal entity for critical human rights concerns in the United States and around the world. The ABA Center for Human Rights (the Center) works to promote and protect human rights worldwide by mobilizing lawyers to help threatened advocates and vulnerable communities; rallying leading experts on vital issues; and holding abusive governments accountable under law.

The Center is seeking legal interns to work closely with our legal advisors, human rights groups, and pro bono attorneys to provide legal assistance to human rights defenders who are the subject of harassment in retaliation for their advocacy efforts. If assigned to the Labor Rights Initiative, the intern will support the work of the Center on labor rights and corporate accountability. More information on the work on the protection of human rights defenders as well as labor rights and corporate accountability can be found here. The intern will gain invaluable insight into international human rights law and advocacy.

Paid Legal Interns will gain valuable experience while contributing to the important work of the ABA. The internship program is structured for the primary benefit of the intern and provides the intern with meaningful training/experience and educational benefits.

Depending on the needs of the Center at the time and the interest and experience of the intern, the student may be assigned to any of the following projects and teams. Please indicate your regional and/or project preference in your cover letter.

  • Justice Defenders Program: Mobilizing the global legal community to support human rights defenders around the world who face retaliation for their work. Intern/extern would be assigned to one of five regional teams (Eastern Europe and Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa) or to our labor rights portfolio.
  • TrialWatch Program: Monitoring criminal trials in cases in which there appears to be a significant risk of fair trial violations, with a focus on trials brought against journalists, political opposition members, human rights defenders, and members of marginalized communities. Intern/extern would support the Legal Advisor of the Program.


This may be a fully remote, virtual internship or a hybrid/in-person opportunity, depending upon ABA policy at the start of the internship regarding in-person work, the intern’s location, and the intern’s comfort level with in-person work. Applicant must be located in California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Virginia, or Wisconsin for the duration of the internship.

The intern is expected to begin in early June 2024 for a 10-to-16-week internship period. Intern is expected to commit a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 29 hours per week to this part-time opportunity. Application deadline is March 31, 2024.

Interns/Externs should expect to do several of the following tasks:

  • Conduct legal research and draft memos, petitions, and reports
  • Conduct supplemental fact-finding and assist during interviews
  • Attend press conferences, briefings, meetings with partner organizations, and/or other webinars
  • Draft editorials and blogs on key human rights issues
  • Monitor ongoing human rights abuses internationally via human rights listservs and other news sources


Essential Job Functions and Responsibilities

  • Work closely with attorneys, providing legal assistance and general support to help further the mission and goals of the ABA.
  • Accepts and completes assigned projects during the term of the internship.


Required Education, Qualifications, Experience

  • Currently enrolled in a JD or LLM program at an ABA certified, U.S.-based institution, or a recent (less than one year) graduate of a JD or LLM program from an ABA certified, U.S.-based institution.  Or, a graduate of a certified law program, currently enrolled in a non-legal graduate program.
  • Must be 18 years of age or older, authorized to work in the United States.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to multitask.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office.


Additional Desired Qualifications:

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in a second language is preferred. Knowledge of Arabic, French, Spanish, or Russian is a plus.
  • Demonstrated commitment to public interest and knowledge of international law.
  • Prior experience working on issues of human rights and/or human rights defenders in one or more of our five region and/or thematic programs.

The American Bar Association is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. In compliance with the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), if you have a disability and would like to request an accommodation in order to apply for a position with the American Bar Association, please call 312-988-5188.

Other details

  • Pay Type Hourly
  • Employment Indicator Internship
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Location on Google Maps
  • Washington, DC, USA