ACLU of Illinois

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

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 PILI Law Student Interns (current law students) and PILI Graduate Fellows (recent law graduates).


PILI Law Student Interns and Graduate Fellows 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. 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 PILI Interns and Graduate Fellows are committed to providing mentorship and thorough and timely feedback on work product.

Please note that all candidates must apply directly to the ACLU of Illinois as described below in addition to applying to PILI for Internship or Graduate Fellow 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.

There is a two-step application process:

First, send the following through the appropriate PILI online application (internship or graduate fellowship):

  • 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?

Second, please send the following materials to and indicate the term (summer, spring, or fall) and position (PILI Intern or Graduate Fellow) to which you are applying in the subject line:

  • The same resume you sent through the PILI application process.
  • The same cover letter you sent through the PILI application process.
  • 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 legal writing sample (e.g., a legal memorandum or section of a legal brief) no longer than 10 pages that has not been edited by another individual.
  • 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.

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 If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

This agency is approved to host a Law Student Intern during the spring semester and during the summer. They are also approved to host Graduate Fellows.