Jobs With Justice

Jobs With Justice


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2L Applications Due: October 24, 2014

1L Applications Due: December 19, 2014




The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)  created the Ella Baker Summer Internship Program in 1987 to honor the legacy of Ella Baker, a hero of the civil rights movement, and to train the next generation of social justice lawyers. The program uses a combination of theory and practice to train talented and committed law students on how to work alongside social movements, community organizations, and impacted individuals. The Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services is one of four sites hosting the CCR Ella Baker program.  Through our program, interns gain practical litigation experience and sharpen their theoretical understanding of the relationship between social change, organizing and lawyering. 


Interns work under the direct supervision of attorneys and are given high-quality assignments and periodic feedback. Interns also participate in weekly educational seminars.  In addition, students are provided opportunities to attend court proceedings, community and client meetings, view films about social justice issues, and attend other law related panels and events.



 Students in the Ella Baker program are hosted at three sites in addition to Miami - New York City, NY, New Orleans, Louisiana, Boston, Mass. and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Each site offers students the opportunity to work at a legal organization where collaboration with social movements and community organizations is emphasized.  CCR has stitched these sites together in a single program to expose students to the unique opportunities and challenges of social justice lawyering in different cities, institutions with unique and varying political histories and contexts.


Ella Baker Interns in Miami work at the Community Justice Project (CJP) of Florida Legal Services and are supervised by CJP attorneys. CJP believes lawyers create social change by building the power of community and worker organizations directed by those most affected by social injustice. Interns in Miami will work on CJP’s varied caseload, including county, state and federal litigation, class actions, direct representation, community outreach/education, legislative advocacy, and lobbying on behalf of associations of workers/tenants and community organizations. Students’ work will relate to local campaigns to: advocate for the civil and human rights of youth of color; pass local “wage theft” ordinances; preserve low-income mobile home parks; confront “slumlords” in low-income housing; and improve working conditions for taxi-drivers. Students at this site experience the unique opportunities and challenges of utilizing a community lawyering approach at a legal services organization in one of the poorest cities in the U.S. (Number of Interns: 4)



The internship will begin on June 8, 2015 and end on August 14, 2015.  Interns are expected to work 40 hours per week for a minimum of ten weeks.   All students will be asked to attend an Orientation  and a Final Debrief.



·         First year or second year law student;

·         Excellent legal research and oral/written communication skills

·         Experience and/or a demonstrated commitment to social justice, organizing and/or social movements ;

·         Familiarity with issues surrounding of racial justice, gender justice, civil rights,  international human rights, national security law

·         Site specific requirements

o    Miami - Proficiency in Spanish a plus

o    Haiti - Fluency in either Kreyol or French required (both are preferred)



You must complete an online application at http://www.ccrjustice.org/berthajusticeinstitute and follow the directions there.  In additional to completing the online form, you must upload the following documents as a single PDF in order for your application to be considered complete: a) Cover Letter  (please be sure to include information about your site preferences); b) Resume; and c) three references with contact information. Note: If granted an interview, applicants may also be asked to submit a short legal writing sample.




Because we have limited resources, CCR strongly advises applicants to make every effort to secure their own funding. Possible sources of funding include: your law school; your local Bar Foundation; Equal Justice America, etc. CCR may be able to provide funding only for those who have demonstrated that they have been diligent in seeking alternate funds but have been unsuccessful.



If you have specific questions about the Ella Baker Program, please contact Mr. An-Tuan Williams  at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .But, please no e-mail inquiries or phone calls about the status of your application!




The Community Justice Project, a project of Florida Legal Services, Inc., was founded in 2008 to provide legal support to grassroots community organizations in Miami’s low-income communities. Rooted in the law and organizing movement among poverty lawyers, the CJP’s dynamic style of law practice has many names – community lawyering, movement lawyering, or political lawyering –but is fundamentally rooted in the belief that those most impacted by marginalization or oppression lead their own fight for social justice.We believe lawyers are most effective when they support community organizations accountable to the persons most affected by social injustice. The CJP’s current priority areas are affordable housing and workers rights.  For more on our history and our work go  here


We are currently engaged in providing legal support to several community-based campaigns.  


Working Conditions - New Vision Taxi Driver Association

CJP’s work with the New Vision Taxi Driver Association (NVTDA) is dynamic and multi-faceted.  NVTDA is a primarily-Haitian association of taxi drivers in Miami-Dade County that has been fighting for the rights of taxi drivers since 2003.  Over the years, CJP has helped NVTDA craft local legislation affording greater protections to taxi drivers, challenge unfair charges under the Sunpass program, and advocate for fair enforcement of the Miami-Dade ordinances vis-à-vis taxi companies and other entities that historically have contributed to the abuse of taxi drivers’ rights.  More recently, CJP has been helping members of the NVTDA form their own taxi company to serve as an example of how a taxi company should treat its drivers and to change the industry from within by acting as a market participant.



Civil and Human Rights - Dream Defenders 

From the killing of Trayvon Martin, and later Israel Hernández-Llach (Reefa), and most recently Michael Brown, the Dream Defenders have opposed state sanctioned violence.  CJP has assisted them in heightening the public awareness of their concerns as they occupied the Florida State Capitol, assisted them in drafting legislation amending the Florida "Stand Your Ground" statute,  and bringing to the attention of the United Nations and the international community the impact of this state sanctioned violence on youth of color.



School to Prison Pipeline - Power U Center for Social Change

Power U Center for Social Change Miami-based grassroots organization has been a long-time partner of CJP.  Most recently CJP has been supporting their restorative justice campaign.  Power U is  working with youth to oppose harsh school disciplinary practices like out of school suspensions and advocate for implementation of restorative justice in Miami-Dade public schools.     


Affordable Housing - Right to the City Allliance/National Low Income Housing Coalition

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) was instrumental in getting legislation passed to create a national Housing Trust Fund to provide more affordable housing, funded by a set-aside from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earnings. Those payments were immediately suspended by the conservator when Fannie and Freddie were put into conservatorship.  On behalf of NLIHC and Right to the City Alliance, a national coalition of local housing advocacy groups, we are litigating the legality of the continued suspension of those payments. 


Wage TheftWe Count! and the Wage Theft Task Force  

We assisted in drafting the Miami – Dade Wage Theft Ordinance and in advocating during its implementation.  We have continued to advocate in Tallahassee against preemption.  We are also working locally to improve the administrative enforcement of the  Wage Theft Ordinances.  


Immigration – Florida Immigrant Coalition  

We represented Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) in a lengthy and successful opposition to the construction of a new private immigration detention center in South Florida.  Since winning that campaign FLIC has been largely devoted to comprehensive immigration reform. We continue to engage with FLIC on immigration detention issues, particularly as they relate to racial justice and mass incarceration.



MEENA JAGANNATH of the Community Justice Project  together with AHMAD ABUZNAID, CAROLINE BETTINGER-LOPEZ and CHARLOTTE CASSEL co-authored an article which examined the human rights implications of  the Florida Stand Your Ground laws.


The article looks at the history of the Stand Your Ground laws contending that they are applied in an inconsistent and discriminatory manner and have a particularly harsh impact on racial minorities, youth, and female survivors of intimate partner violence. These laws have been shown to have a particularly pernicious effect on minority youth, who are more likely to fall victim to an aggressor?s gun in SYG jurisdictions. Conversely, individuals who might legitimately benefit from a SYG defense, such as survivors of domestic violence who act in self-defense, could be denied access to these protections of the law?especially when they are women of color.


The article argues that Stand Your Ground laws in the United States are over- broad because they grant a license to use deadly force and amplify existing racial, age, and gender biases. As a result, Stand Your Ground laws are incompatible with several fundamental protections under international human rights law, including the rights to life, equal protection/non-discrimination, due process and access to the courts, family unity, and the best interests of the child.  The concerns have resulted in recent expressions of concern about Stand Your Ground laws by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.


The full text of the article, published by the University of Miami Law Review,  is available here.



 A Creative Workshop to Build a Miami Where All People Can Thrive

How can we work together to ensure that all of our neighbors have a hand in shaping our collective future?  On August 1 & 2 the Community Justice Project-FLS, the Bertha Justice Institute at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Bertha Foundation hosted a gathering at the LAB Miami of approximately 150 people to begin to shape that collective future. The participants worked in small groups across disciplines—design, law, art, activism, technology, social enterprise—to generate relationships as well as concrete ideas responding to those challenges in order to make Miami’s future more inclusive.


Witness the excitement, engagement and results of the Hack at the Justice Hack website.  Many of the small groups that worked together at the Hack are now continuing that work on their own 

 Sponsored By

Bertha Foundation
Community Justice Project
Center for Constitutional Rights


Taxi drivers are Lyft and Uber drivers, too


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Complaining about taxis is a Miami sport. Most Miamians have a story about a late or no-show taxi, or about the worn-out and dirty conditions of the cabs themselves, or about our “bad attitude.” But what are the actual conditions for us drivers?

Imagine a job where you have to pay to work; where even when you are not working because of sickness, bad weather or a day off, you still have to pay. The job comes with constant scrutiny, and if you make a small mistake, you might either have to pay more fees or lose your job without future opportunity to work again.

You often experience police harassment and overzealous targeting for tickets and fines at the hands of code enforcement inspectors. The job is among the top 10 lowest-paying, most dangerous jobs in the United States, and includes extremely long hours with no benefits. When you work, you can expect to clean up body fluids, deal with aggressive and inebriated people, and receive constant mistreatment. But you take this job because often it is the only job available to you, and you have a family to feed and bills to pay.

This is our story, as Miami-Dade’s taxi drivers who are not medallion owners — medallions being the prohibitively expensive for-hire license needed to operate a cab. Taxi drivers have to pay from $550 to $750 per week to lease a medallion, depending on whether we own the vehicle. We pay this fee (even if we are unable to work) to taxi companies that own or administer medallions. The majority of drivers do not own medallions. This means no time off unless we want to pay for it. Any small accident or fender-bender can cause the cab company to kick us off its insurance, which means no more job — unless we pay the company $2,000 and fix the car ourselves, as the cab company’s insurance only covers the passenger, not us or our cars.

These same cab companies denounce the illegality of Lyft and Uber, calling for the arrest of their drivers. Yet, stories abound of code violations by taxi companies, including charging drivers extra fees after an accident because they know that drivers are desperate to keep their job. Additionally, cab companies rarely provide drivers with their contracts, despite the code provision that requires otherwise.

New Vision Taxi Drivers Association has been organizing since 2003 for better working conditions for Miami-Dade taxi drivers. Most of us make poverty-level wages, even after working 16-hour days, because of hefty leasing fees. Some of us have started to work as Uber of Lyft drivers as the only way out. When we work with taxi companies, we pay them 80 percent of what we make; when we drive for Uber or Lyft, we keep 80 percent of what we make.

Our association supports legalizing Uber and Lyft in Miami-Dade, while keeping a watchful eye on their treatment of drivers. We would like to see our contracts printed out and carry copies of the insurance policies. These new ride-sharing companies must not follow in the footsteps of taxi companies. Instead, they should commit to implementing standard processes and transparency around driver dismissal and provide clear methods of communicating with company managers.


On March 25th, the 150th session of The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) convened a hearing to examine the impact of stand your ground laws on minority communities in the United States.  CJP Attorney Meena Jagannath testified as well as Sybrina Fulton, Mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin; Ron Davis, Father of slain teenager Jordan Davis;  Lorraine C. Miller, NAACP Interim President and CEO; Ahmad Abuznaid Esq, Legal & Policy Director Dream Defenders Inc.;  Aleta Alston-Toure, Free Marissa Now;  Caroline Bettinger-López, Esq,  Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law;   Alisa Bierria, Free Marissa Now & Center for Race & Gender, UC Berkeley Hilary Shelton; NAACP Sr. Vice President for Policy & Advocacy/ Washington Bureau Director; Charlotte Joseph Cassel, M.P.H., University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic; Dr. Niaz Kasravi, NAACP Criminal Justice Director.   The hearing can be viewed here









Meena Jagannath, Esq. and Ahmad Abuznaid Esq. testifying before the InterAmerican Commission 




The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provided a path to affordable  coverage in two ways: 1) by providing subsidies to people with moderate income so that they could purchase affordable coverage through the Health Insurance; and 2) by greatly expanding Medicaid to cover most low income adults. However, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Medicaid expansion was a state option.  So far, the Florida Legislature has chosen not to expand Medicaid. even though the federal government will pay virtually all the increased costs.  We want everyone to understand the importance of the Florida legislature accepting this generous federal funding and covering more than a million people.  Florida’s current Medicaid program only covers adults who are disabled, or pregnant, or have minor children. And even if a person does have children, the current Medicaid income limit is very low. a single parent can only earn $5400 a year. If Florida expanded Medicaid, virtually all low-income adults would be covered and the income limit would be greatly increased.   For example, a single parent could earn up to $21,707 and still be eligible and low income nondisabled adults without children could also receive coverage.   The $50 billion in federalfunding that would pay for this expansion over the next 10 years would not only help save lives andimprove health outcomes; it would serve as a boost to the economy and create over 120,000 new permanent jobs in the state. All the information you need is available here.  If you still have questions regarding eligibility or the campaign to expand Medicaid contact Miriam Harmatz at Florida Legal Services - 305 573-0092 ext 206


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 Formally begun in 2008 by  Chuck Elsesser, Jose Javier Rodriguez and Purvi Shah, the Community Justice Project now consists of Chuck and Meena Jagannath.  The Project is dedicated to working with its many community partners in their efforts to organize and empower the low income communities in Miami and throughout Florida. During the past two decades, there has been a dramatic resurgence in both the number of grassroots organizations in South ...



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