Civil Rights Law Fellow

National Education Association
District of Columbia

NEA Civil Rights Law Fellow
National Education Association
Washington, DC
Annual Fellowship: $85,000
Application Deadline: Rolling Until Filled


The National Education Association Office of General Counsel is pleased to announce an opening for a Civil Rights Law Fellow, to start in September 2021. The NEA Civil Rights Law Fellowship offers the opportunity for a rising attorney with two to five years of legal experience to work on the cause of advancing student civil rights with experienced counsel and other education advocates.

NEA is the largest labor organization in the country representing nearly 3 million teachers and other education professionals. NEA’s work includes substantial advocacy at the federal, state, and local level in support of public education and educational employees and significant research and policy initiatives to promote equal access to quality education for all students.

The NEA Civil Rights Law Fellow works out of NEA’s Office of General Counsel at NEA’s headquarters in Washington D.C., although as of October 2020, NEA attorneys are working remotely due to COVID-19. The fellowship is for a period of one year (through August 31, 2022), with the option of extending, upon mutual agreement, the fellowship for one additional year. The Civil Rights Law Fellow advances NEA’s work to ensure that students receive the full and equal educational opportunities to which they are entitled under the law. Over the past few years, NEA’s student civil rights advocacy has included all of the following:

  • Extensive litigation and amicus work, including in the following cases:
    • Regents of the University of California v Dep’t of Homeland Security. Participating as an amicus in the Supreme Court and lower courts in successful challenge to DACA’s rescission. NEA’s brief focused on the critical void that DACA educators fill in schools, particularly in light of teacher shortages nationwide and a lack of diversity in the teaching force and the harm to students and schools that DACA’s rescission would have caused.
    • Feminist Majority Foundation v. Univ. of Mary Washington. NEA filed in support of female students who had been subjected to online, anonymous, peer harassment and threats. The NEA amicus discussed the impact that cyber-bullying and harassment has on students and made the points that the trial court holding that schools have no duty to prevent and remedy such harassment is wrong and, if not reversed, would have an incredibly harmful effect on the educational opportunities of girls, LGBTQ students, and students of color.
    • Doe v. Boyertown Area School District and Parents for Privacy v. Dallas School District. NEA filed in support of trans-inclusive school district policies in these cases in the Third and Ninth Circuits. The NEA brief detailed how trans-inclusive policies both allow transgender students to thrive while also improving the overall school climate for all students.
    • Smith v. Board of Education of Frederick County, Maryland. NEA and our state affiliate intervened to defend the Frederick County Teachers Association, which had successfully urged their school board to adopt a trans-inclusive student policy only to have that policy challenged in court by right-wing organizations contending that it was unconstitutional.
  • Development of, and training of members and advocates on, comprehensive legal guidance on Students’ Rights Not to Be Discriminated Against or Harassed Based on Race, Religion, National Origin, and Immigration Status available on this page, together with the other advocacy material referenced here. NEA’s legal guidance provides educators with an understanding of current laws that protect students from racial, religious, and national origin harassment; provides a model policy that school districts should adopt to ensure those protections are fully enforced; and provides FAQs and responses to assist in enforcement efforts.
  • Development and training of members and advocates on the NEA Safe Zones Policies and Resolutions to protect students’ rights to attend public schools regardless of immigration status. The policies and resolutions, provide school district activists and leaders with tools to reaffirm and protect undocumented students’ rights to enroll and remain in public school.
  • Development and training of members and advocates on the NEA Legal Guidance on Transgender Students’ Rights, which provides educators and districts with the current state of the law on transgender students’ rights, model trans-inclusive student policies and FAQs.
  • Guidance for NEA affiliates and members seeking to speak out, protest, and engage in activism on issues such as gun safety, the DACA program, and Black Lives Matter movement, available here. Research and support for NEA's advocacy work around ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

Responsibilities. The Student Civil Rights Fellow will:

  • Contribute to litigation representing NEA, its affiliates and members related to student civil rights, including the drafting of court pleadings and briefs.
  • Develop legal analysis, advice and counsel, and training on student civil rights and related issues to NEA staff, affiliates and members.
  • Analyze student civil rights legal developments of interest to NEA and its members and provide regular updates on other developments of interest to NEA lawyers throughout the country.
  • Contribute to NEA’s strategic legal initiatives related to student civil rights.
  • Assist with other legal matters (internal and external) as needed.


  • J.D. from an accredited law school required.
  • Judicial clerkships or other post-graduation legal experience of two to five years.
  • Excellent oral and written advocacy and communication skills.
  • Demonstrated commitment to civil rights.
  • Ability to perform complex legal analytical work.
  • Self-motivated and able to manage a variety of tasks concurrently.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently as well as within a team.
  • A sense of humor.

To Apply: Please forward a letter of interest in the NEA Civil Rights Law Fellowship, resume, significant writing sample (between 10 and 30 pages), law school transcript, and a list of three references to Kelli Brown at Please indicate "2021-22 Civil Rights Law Fellowship Application" in your email subject line.

Posting period: October 14, 2020

NEA is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities without regard to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, age, or disability.

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