COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
We will begin accepting applications for Summer 2020 internships on January 1, 2020.
All applications must be submitted by March 31, 2020.
The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, one of the oldest civil rights enforcement agencies in the United States, has openings for law student interns in its Legal Division, Executive Office and Office of Public Hearings. The Commission also has limited openings for college and motivated high school students in the Legal Division and in our Executive Office.
The Legal Division litigates complaints of employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination as well as whistleblower retaliation claims. The Legal Division represents also the agency in other matters at the trial and appellate levels in state (and occasionally federal) courts.
The Office of Public Hearings functions as a quasi-judicial body responsible for hearing and deciding discriminatory practice and whistleblower retaliation complaints.
The Executive Office consists of the agency's upper management: our Executive Director and Deputy Director. The Executive Office is responsible for policy making, legislative matters and education and outreach efforts.
Most internships are unpaid. The agency will have limited funds available for small student stipends.
INTERNSHIPS IN THE LEGAL DIVISION
The Legal Division operates as a governmental law office staffed by the Principal Attorney, 13 Human Rights Attorneys, an investigator, a paralegal and a secretary. The workload of the Division divides into three general areas: (1) preparing cases for hearing; (2) writing amicus curiae briefs or performing in-house administrative written work; and (3) mediating and investigating discriminatory practice and whistleblower retaliation complaints. Interns may concentrate in one area or any combination of areas, but normally see a bit of each during their summer.
Preparing Cases for Hearing
Case preparation involves preparing discrimination and whistleblower retaliation cases for litigation before human rights referees, who function as administrative law judges, or in Connecticut trial courts. Assignments may also include responding to individual legal questions that arise during the course of complaint investigation or in judicial proceedings or questioning witnesses at fact-finding. Internship duties will typically include legal research and writing, drafting pleadings and interrogatories, interviewing witnesses prior to trial and engaging in settlement negotiations. Students admitted under Connecticut's student practice rule may have an opportunity to question witnesses in public hearings or argue in court.
Brief Writing and In-House Administrative Assignments
Brief writing and in-house administrative assignments include the opportunity to prepare briefs in cases raising significant questions of public policy in the state and federal courts and to identify cases raising significant issues from among cases in current court dockets in which the agency may intervene. Students will also review and make recommendations on cases dismissed by the agency to determine whether the dismissal should be reconsidered. Work may include research into other areas of agency authority, such as contract compliance and affirmative action.
Mediation of Discriminatory Practice Complaints
Students who have completed a standard 40-hour mediation certification course or who have taken coursework in mediation in law school will be able to mediate cases almost immedately. Students with an interest in mediation but no exposure will work with attorneys in the Legal Division to develop the necessary skills prior to conducting mediations. Students can mediate cases in our central office in Hartford or one of our four regional offices.
Students in 2011 argued a motion in the Connecticut Appellate Court, wrote briefs in cases for the Connecticut Appellate and Supreme Courts and mediated discrimination complaints. Students in 2012 wrote and argued an objection to a motion to dismiss in a whistleblower retaliation case before a human rights referee, prepared cases for public hearing, questioned witnesses in fact-findings, wrote a brief in a case pending in the Appellate Court and conducted numerous mediations. Students in 2013 prepared and argued an objection to discovery in U.S. District Court, conducted numerous mediations, filed discovery requests and other prehearing motions before the Office of Public Hearings and drafted a brief in an administrative appeal and later argued it in Superior Court. Students in 2014 prepared an amicus curiae brief in a case in the Appellate Court raising the issue of whether punitive damages should be available for victims of discrimination, an amicus curiae brief in a free speech case in the Connecticut Supreme Court (read decision here) and an amicus curiae brief in a whistleblower retaliation case in the Appellate Court. They also presented the Commission's case in a default hearing before the Office of Public Hearings, prepared cases for trial, conducted fact-findings, mediations and training sessions for members of the public. Students in 2015 mediated and investigated discriminatory practice complaints, drafted and filed motions and objections in Superior Court, prepared cases for public hearing, participated in numerous education and outreach events (Pipeline to Prison Forum, Leaders and Legends awards, Kids' Speak, Kids' Court) and did intake for housing discrimination complaints.
Depending on the workload of the office and interest and skill level of the intern, assignments will range from glamorous to routine. Interns will leave with hands-on experience performing a range of challenging assignments involving actual law work, not answering the phone, copying or filing. Your experience this summer will be invaluable in preparing you for a career in public interest law or governmental service. You will work in an office where you will be treated like a part of the legal team and work collaboratively with attorneys. Work hours are flexible.
While students are responsible for finding their own funding, the Commission has been able to provide small stipends ($500-$2,500) the past two years to some law students interning in the Legal Division.
INTERNSHIPS IN THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS
Interns in the Office of Public Hearings will shadow administrative hearing officers, conduct legal research and writing and perform other tasks related to the Office’s statutory responsibilities.
OPH interns will perform the duties more akin to those of a law clerk. They will be present for status hearings, settlement conferences and contested hearings, observing and learning agency procedure. They will aid the presiding hearing referees with legal research, drafting memoranda and reviewing files. During settlement conferences the intern will aid the settlement referee in the negotiation of agreements between the parties. Interns will review the settlement the files, and discuss the case with the settlement referee. The intern will also be responsible for assisting with the day to day review of incoming files, as well as helping comply statistics of the types and numbers of claims filed. The legal intern will adhere to the same rules for ex parte communication as the hearing referees.
INTERNSHIPS IN THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE
Interns in this office will organize a symposium on a current human rights issue, create public service announcements and other public informational materials and take part in mediations and investigations working with our Executive Director or Deputy Director.
Students should submit an application package that includes a cover letter explaining your background and interest in the position; a résumé; and a writing sample. Submission by email at the address below is preferred. The cover letter should indicate: (1) why you are interested in working in civil rights and your background for that work; (2) whether you wish to intern in the Legal Division or Office of Public Hearings; (3) whether you prefer to work full-time or part-time; and (4) whether you will be applying for a grant or other funding.
For additional information, please feel free to contact Charles Krich, Principal Attorney, Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, 450 Columbus Boulevard, Suite 2, Hartford, CT 06103; Telephone(860) 541-3429; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org