May 8, 2020

Summer Law Clerks (remote)

Root & Rebound Seeks Remote Summer 2020 Law Clerks

We’re offering REMOTE Summer Law Clerkships to support our legal services across California, South Carolina, and nationally!


Root & Rebound (R&R) is a national nonprofit reentry advocacy organization that restores and protects the rights, dignity, and opportunities for people directly impacted by the criminal justice system. Our mission is to restore power and resources to the families and communities most harmed by mass incarceration through legal advocacy, public education, policy reform and litigation — a model rooted in the needs and expertise of people who are directly impacted.


R&R is currently looking for Law Clerks for the Summer of 2020! As a Summer Law Clerk, students have the unique opportunity to work holistically on the issues of “reentry law”—directly supporting individuals who have been impacted and harmed by mass incarceration and are navigating the 48,000 documented legal barriers related to their criminal record. Law students provide legal research and writing support on client cases, staff our legal hotline and community legal clinics for formerly incarcerated and justice-involved people; support community lawyers at R&R’s direct services sites in San Bernardino, LA, Fresno, and Oakland, as well as our first sister site in Greenville, South Carolina; and contribute to high-level policy advocacy projects.

Unlike most legal externships, law students clerking at Root & Rebound learn about many areas of law–housing, family, labor/employment, civil rights, parole and probation, immigration, and many other substantive areas of legal practice as they impact justice-involved people. Law students are also exposed to a multitude of social justice law practices: from community legal clinics, to a statewide legal hotline, legal research and writing, know-your-rights education and trainings, and policy advocacy and impact litigation.



  1. HQ in Oakland, California (near 19th Street BART station and bus lines) oversees programs and services locally in the Bay Area as well as statewide across California, and oversees R&R’s growing national programming and resources.
  2. R&R’s Los Angeles, California office is based at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) in Downtown LA, and provides legal services and workshops for justice system-impacted people as well as educational workshops across LA.
  3. R&R’s Fresno, California office focuses on serving women of color with records and in reentry from incarceration. The office is within walking distance of major bus and transit lines and close to community organizations with which R&R partners, as well as local restaurants, gyms, and entertainment. (Please note: R&R’s office headquarters is located downtown Oakland, California, with Oakland staff traveling to Fresno regularly.)
  4. R&R’s San Bernardino, California office is based at Time for Change Foundation (TFCF) and helps formerly incarcerated women, their children and families navigate and overcome legal barriers stemming from past criminal justice system involvement. TFCF is an organization that supports women to recover from homelessness, drug addiction, mental and physical abuse, family separation and the effects of incarceration. 


  1. R&R’s Greenville, South Carolina office is a statewide legal advocacy hub embedded within Soteria Community Development Corporation, a unique social-legal advocacy partnership focused on expanding second chance opportunity for justice system-impacted South Carolinians.


  1. To support systemic change and policy reform across California and nationally, Root & Rebound is now hiring for a Summer Law Clerk to provide significant support to our ongoing impact litigation work and policy advocacy work.



R&R builds innovative legal tools, know-your-rights education, and direct legal services to support formerly incarcerated people and people with records to navigate barriers to employment, housing, family reunification, obtaining ID, voting, financial wellness, and more due to their record. We do this through the following key programs:

    • Direct Services: 
      • In California, R&R runs a weekly Reentry Legal Hotline every Friday out of its Oakland office for anyone with questions about reentry and the impact of a criminal record on their life and legal rights. R&R also provides legal correspondence to currently incarcerated people via our prison letter-writing service. R&R also has community lawyers embedded within grassroots organizations in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Fresno, and Oakland to provide direct legal services to systems-impacted clients, and runs free community reentry legal clinics all across the state, including in rural parts of Northern California in partnership with several Tribes. 
      • In South Carolina, R&R’s statewide second chance justice hub is embedded within a grassroots reentry organization, and is building out direct reentry legal services locally in Greenville and statewide in South Carolina.
    • Public Education: R&R’s legal team educates systems-impacted people, their families, social service providers, employers, HR managers, probation departments, attorneys, workforce development professionals, and other stakeholders about reentry legal barriers and how to overcome those obstacles on the path to greater stability and opportunity. Our education work takes place through in-person workshops inside prisons and jail and in the community, online trainings, and the dissemination of written publications. R&R’s direct services and public education work began with the publication of “Roadmap to Reentry: A California Legal Guide,” a first-of-its-kind comprehensive ‘know-your-rights’ legal guidebook for people with records and those who support. R&R has since published and continues to create many topic- and audience-specific tools for systems-impacted communities in California, South Carolina, Hawai’i, Minnesota, Connecticut, and nationally, and is currently drafting a Roadmap to Reentry for South Carolina.
    • Systems Reform & Policy Advocacy: R&R advocates for broader systems reform by documenting the experiences that clients, callers, and trainees articulate to us about the legal and practical barriers they encounter, and by communicating these issues to policy groups, elected officials, impact litigation firms, and other stakeholders. Through key partnerships, conferences, and awareness-building campaigns that incorporate news media, phone calls and letters, social media and community organizing, we push for an improved reentry infrastructure that will better prepare and support people before and during their reentry. We have key priorities for policy and litigation across all of the areas we work for 2020, which law clerks can get involved in over the summer.

Commitment:  Full time for the summer: 40 hours/week for 10 weeks.

Duties & Responsibilities:

Duties and responsibilities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Conduct legal research and writing about the most current and relevant reentry legal issues to continuously update and improve our Roadmap to Reentry guide and other toolkits and resources;
  • Help staff develop legal trainings in the community and, perhaps, assist with those trainings;
  • Answer Reentry Legal Hotline calls and speak with currently and formerly incarcerated callers, and those who support them, about their reentry-related questions and issues every Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.;
  • Correspond with people writing to Root & Rebound from prison, and provide writers with follow-up legal guidance and resources on a variety of reentry topics;
  • Assist with any of Root & Rebound’s direct services work in the Bay Area;
  • Research upcoming relevant criminal justice legislation;
  • Strengthen R&R’s referral databases of community-based organizations, government agencies, and partners;
  • Write blog posts on legal issues in criminal justice and reentry; and/or
  • Any other necessary duties that fall into Root & Rebound’s legal programs.


The successful candidate should possess the following qualifications:

  • Desire to work with reentering people and on criminal justice issues in a dynamic legal environment.
  • Demonstrated interest in improving the lives of disenfranchised people and communities.
  • Currently in law school or recent law school graduate.
  • Previous experience working directly with clients in a legal clinic setting preferred.
  • Strong research and writing skills.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Strong attention to detail and meticulous follow-up.
  • Strong work ethic, positive attitude, sound judgment, and a sense of humor.
  • Eagerness to take initiative, solve intricate problems, work on multiple projects simultaneously, and prioritize and organize in a deadline-driven environment.
  • Ability to be flexible and adapt well in a changing startup environment.
  • A high level of dependability and the ability to maintain a consistent schedule.
  • Ability to comfortably and appropriately communicate with a diverse group of stakeholders including currently and formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones, staff, community partners, board members, and others.

Credit/Compensation:  The ideal candidate will have access to outside funding or school credit through his/her law school or other fellowship program for nonprofit work. If a strong candidate has no access to credit or funding sources for nonprofit work, other options may be explored.

R&R Culture:  At R&R, we have a strong culture of management and care for our law clerks. We support and push students to create action plans that are unique to their working style and goals, set them up with direct supervisors, and give them a unique and exciting experience.

Application Instructions:  To apply for this position, please send the following materials to Sonja Tonnesen, R&R Deputy Director, at [email protected]:

  • Resume;
  • Cover letter (In your cover letter please indicate at which location(s) you are open to clerking);
  • Short sample of legal writing (4 pages max.); and
  • At least 2 references with contact information and a description of how they know you.

Resumes without a cover letter, writing sample, and references will not be reviewed. No fax or mail applications and no phone calls, please. Decisions will be made on a rolling basis.

Root & Rebound is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from all qualified individuals including women, people of color, people with conviction histories, persons with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender variant individuals.

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