Project-Based Fellowship on Decarceration

Juvenile Law Center advocates for rights, dignity, equity and opportunity for all youth in the child welfare and justice systems.  

Founded in 1975, Juvenile Law Center is the first non-profit, public interest law firm for children in the country. Through litigation, appellate advocacy and submission of amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs, policy reform, public education, training, consulting, and strategic communications, we fight for children who come into contact with the child welfare and justice systems. Widely published and internationally recognized as leaders in the field, Juvenile Law Center has substantially shaped the development of law and policy on behalf of youth. We strive to ensure that laws, policies, and practices affecting youth advance racial and economic equity and are rooted in research, consistent with children’s unique developmental characteristics, and reflective of international human rights values. Current issues can be found here.  

Juvenile Law Center is committed to advancing equity both internally and in our advocacy work. We recognize the urgency and necessity of actively building and supporting diverse leadership at Juvenile Law Center and in the field more broadly. We are committed to actively recruiting and hiring from communities most impacted by our work. Applicants working to advance equity and who identify with these impacted communities are strongly encouraged to apply and self-identify during the application process. 


Project-Based Fellow Opportunity 

Juvenile Law Center will sponsor attorney candidates for post-graduate public interest fellowships provided by the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Soros Justice Fellowship, Law school sponsored fellowships, or other outside fellowship funding organizations. 

In 2020, Juvenile Law Center and selected candidate(s) will propose fellowship(s) on Decarceration:

Nationally, on any given day, tens of thousands of young people – disproportionately Black and Brown youth – are incarcerated in juvenile and criminal justice facilities. Research shows that incarceration is harmful, costly, and ineffective and that young people do better in their homes, families, and communities.

Juvenile Law Center seeks a project-based fellow to use litigation and policy advocacy to advance the goals of decarceration of young people from juvenile and adult justice facilities. The fellow will build on advocacy strategies developed in response to COVID-19 to advocate for the release of youth from facilities to protect their health and promote equity.  

Essential Functions will vary by chosen project, and may include, but not be limited to:  

  • Thinking strategically about opportunities to advocate for child welfare and justice systems that are developmentally appropriate, racially equitable, and supportive of youth, families and communities 

  • Engaging in impact litigation and/or appellate advocacy to shape the field of youth law, including drafting memoranda, motions, and briefs as well as oral advocacy and trial participation as needed 

  • Engaging in policy reform efforts, including analyzing statutes and regulations, drafting fact sheets and publications, and convening key stakeholders 

  • Providing public education to various stakeholders 

  • Working with Juvenile Law Center’s communications team on media and other strategic communications 

  • Collaborating with and building coalitions with directly-impacted populations and other stakeholders 

The fellowship will require some travel in Pennsylvania and nationally.  


Essential Skills

  • Commitment to Juvenile Law Center’s mission and vision 

  • Strong foundation in research, writing, and oral communication 

  • Highly collaborative, including ability to work effectively with external partners and internal colleagues; ability to build strong rapport and relationships; ability to work collaboratively alongside youth 

  • Strong sense of professionalism, including ability to manage multiple deadlines; strong work ethic and commitment to see assignments completed thoroughly and timely; flexibility to pitch in when needed; willingness to learn new skills and improve existing skills 

  • A commitment to racial equity, including: a dedication to expanding analysis and knowledge about the role that racial inequity plays in our society and a commitment to building or deepening commitment to racial justice work. 

Additional Skills and Experiences Preferred: 

  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically about child welfare and justice systems that are developmentally appropriate, racially equitable, and supportive of youth, families and communities. 

  • Previous internship, clinical, or class experience in impact litigation, appellate advocacy or policy analysis and advocacy. 

  • Demonstrated skills in racial justice advocacy, including: a demonstrated understanding of the role of racial inequity in movement-building, a demonstrated ability to effectively manage across difference, an ability to integrate understanding of racial equity concepts into work projects by addressing structural implications and disproportionate impacts of laws, policies, and practices. 

  • Insights into the justice and child welfare systems that bring a new perspective to Juvenile Law Center, which may be based on personal experience in the system; personal experience as a member of a marginalized group; prior experience working with youth, families or communities impacted by the child welfare or justice systems; and/or deep knowledge of a relevant body of law. 


Responsibility Level

The Project-Based Fellow is supervised by a Staff or Senior Attorney. 



Candidates must be eligible for the outside Fellowship for which they want to apply. Eligibility requirements will vary. Candidates are expected to carefully review the eligibility, application, benefits, and other information about the outside Fellowships for which they seek sponsorship.  

An offer to sponsor a candidate for an outside fellowship is not an offer of employment. Juvenile Law Center makes no promise to hire candidates who are not selected for a fellowship by the outside organization.  

If Juvenile Law Center and candidate agree to pursue outside fellowships together, that candidate will be ineligible for the Zubrow Fellowship. A candidate who applies for sponsorship and is not selected by Juvenile Law Center may still apply for the Zubrow Fellowship. 



The compensation for this position is $62,000. Juvenile Law Center offers excellent health care benefits, disability insurance and life insurance. Some Fellowships may offer additional benefits, subject to sponsor’s discretion. 


Application Instructions

Send cover letter describing interests and experience, a resume, list of three references and a writing sample in a single PDF to In your cover letter, please let us know how you heard of this position.

The cover letter should include the following information: 

  • Explain why you are passionate about this project topic. Please highlight any personal, volunteer, professional or other experiences relevant to the project topic, and/or to your interest in the child welfare or justice systems generally. As much as possible, give specific examples that demonstrate your interest, commitment, and understanding of the issues. 

  • Are there legal strategies that you are most interested in? E.g. are you hoping to do impact litigation?  Appellate advocacy? Policy work?  Public education? Coalition building?  All of the above? 

If selected, the candidate and Juvenile Law Center staff will work together to craft the fellowship project and application to be submitted to outside Fellowships.  



Applications are due by July 22, 2020.

Applications will be reviewed by a hiring team, which will select certain candidates for interviews. Interviews will take place by video or phone in the end of July or early August. Candidates will be notified no later than August 15, 2020 if selected for sponsorship. 


Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

Juvenile Law Center’s mission is to advocate for rights, dignity, equity, and opportunity in the child welfare and justice systems. The diversity of our staff is critical to fulfilling this mission. 

Juvenile Law Center is committed to cultivating an inclusive space that affirms and celebrates the backgrounds, learned and lived expertise, whole identities, and individual perspectives of our staff. We are committed to the diversity of our staff as it pertains to race, color, ethnicity, class, sex, marital or parental status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, size, disability, religion, national origin, and/or child welfare or juvenile or criminal justice involvement, including prior record of arrest, adjudication, or conviction. Applicants of all backgrounds and experiences are encouraged to self-identify during the application process. 

Juvenile Law Center is an equal opportunity employer.