We have finished our hiring for Spring and Summer 2021. Please check back later for information about the Fall 2021 application process.

The Legal Department of the ACLU of Illinois seeks law students (any year of school) for full-time Summer 2021 legal internships. (We do not have legal internships for undergraduates.) This internship will be fully remote with the opportunity to work out of the ACLU of IL office in Chicago if and when the office reopens during Summer 2021.

The ACLU of Illinois is an affiliate office of the American Civil Liberties Union, a national non-profit organization devoted to the protection of civil rights and civil liberties through litigation, legislation, and public education. With a staff of 45 and over 60,000 members, the ACLU of Illinois is one of the largest ACLU state affiliates. We work to fight mass incarceration and racism in the criminal and juvenile legal systems, to promote full equality for LGBTQ people, to challenge dangerous immigration detention conditions, to battle racially biased and abusive policing, to advance gender justice and reproductive rights, to advocate for children in the foster system and people with disabilities, and to defend people from government abuse and overreach. We are a passionate and highly motivated group of lawyers, public policy experts, lobbyists, fundraisers, engagement and communication professionals, and administrative staff. To learn more about our work, visit aclu-il.org.

The Legal Department of the ACLU of Illinois advances civil rights and civil liberties through an active docket of more than 40 cases in federal and state courts as well as advocacy and public education in partnership with colleagues throughout the organization. Attorneys in the Legal Department provide supervision and mentorship to legal interns.


Legal interns will be exposed to, and participate in, the process of developing and pursuing impact cases and non-litigation advocacy to advance civil rights and civil liberties. The legal intern’s duties can include:

  • Conducting legal and policy research for current and potential cases and non-litigation advocacy projects;
  • Drafting memoranda, affidavits and briefs;
  • Cite checking legal documents;
  • Interviewing potential clients and class members; and
  • Investigating the facts of specific cases.

Attorneys who supervise interns are committed to providing mentorship and thorough and timely feedback on work product.


Financial support is available.

First-year and second-year law students, as well as third-year law students who seek a summer internship before starting at a Chicago law firm, should apply for financial support through the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI). Application instructions are provided below. Please note that all candidates who apply to PILI for funding must also apply directly to the ACLU of Illinois as described below.

If you are selected for an ACLU of Illinois legal internship and are ineligible for law school course credit or do not receive funding from PILI or your law school, ACLU of Illinois will provide financial support at a level comparable to PILI funding.


  • You are a law student who will have completed at least one year of law school before the internship commences.
  • You are self-motivated and have the ability to take initiative, manage a variety of tasks, and see projects through to completion in a fast-paced and collaborative environment.
  • You are receptive to feedback, enthusiastic about learning and self-improvement, and eager to incorporate feedback into future work.
  • You have an excellent foundation in legal research, including the judgment to discern what cases are relevant to a particular research question and thoroughness in covering the question asked.
  • You are well along in developing the capacity to engage in thoughtful and perceptive legal analysis, including the ability to build a logical and persuasive argument, to read and understand legal decisions and statutes, and to grasp whether and how legal authorities apply to a new set of facts.
  • You are well along in developing excellent legal writing skills, including the ability to present ideas in a clear and organized manner and to write a memo that teaches the reader what you have learned through research (whether the meaning of a specific case or the state of a body of law in general).
  • You are able to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and conflicts.
  • You are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the office, using an approach that values all individuals and respects differences.
  • You have the empathy and interpersonal skills necessary to connect with, listen to, learn from, and ask questions of clients and other community members.
  • You are committed to civil rights, civil liberties, social justice, and the mission of the ACLU of Illinois.


Please apply as early as possible; offers are extended as qualified people apply.

No applications will be accepted after December 31, 2020.

Applicants should send the following materials to legalinternships@aclu-il.org and indicate “Summer Legal Internship Application” in the subject line:

  • A copy of your resume that lists relevant experience.
  • A cover letter of no more than 600 words addressing the following topics:
    • What civil rights and civil liberties issue do you feel is most pressing right now and why?
    • How do your skills and experiences make you a good fit for this position?
    • Describe a specific example of when you took ownership (or responsibility) over a project or assignment. What did it mean to you to take ownership? What was the result?
  • A list of three references, including a sentence about each one identifying what information the person can provide. We find particularly helpful the perspective of a practicing attorney or clinical supervisor who has worked with you, but we are also interested in speaking with professors, community members, coworkers, or others who can speak to your relevant skills and experience.
  • A writing sample (e.g., a legal memorandum or section of a legal brief) that has not been edited by another individual and is no longer than 10 pages.
  • In place of a transcript, a list of all law school courses that you have taken, are currently taking, or (where applicable) are scheduled to take next semester.

Application for Financial Support: If your law school does not provide course credit or funding for this legal internship, you may also apply for funding through the Public Interest Law Initiative. Please note that all candidates who apply to PILI for funding must also apply directly to the ACLU of Illinois as described above.

  • Current 1Ls and 2Ls may apply for PILI Internship funding here starting on December 1. Early applications are encouraged.
  • Current 3Ls who will be starting as associates at Chicago law firms may apply for PILI Graduate Fellowship funding here. This application process is already open.

The ACLU of Illinois is an equal opportunity employer.  We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. We encourage applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, record of arrest or conviction, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.

The ACLU of Illinois makes every effort to assure that its recruitment and employment provide all qualified persons, including persons with disabilities, with full opportunities for employment in all positions.

The ACLU of Illinois is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please email legalinternships@aclu-il.org.  If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.