COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
We are no longer accepting applications for Summer 2013 internships.
We are still accepting applications for Fall 2013 and Spring 2014.
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 and Office of Public Hearings. The Commission also has limited openings for college and motivated high school students.
The Legal Division is responsible for litigating claims of employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination. The legal division also represents the agency in other matters at the trial and appellate levels and recently was given jurisdiction to prosecute whistleblower retaliation cases under CONN. GEN. STAT. § 4-61dd.
The Office of Public Hearings functions as a quasi-judicial body that is responsible for hearing and deciding discriminatory practice and whistleblower retaliation complaints.
INTERNSHIPS IN THE LEGAL DIVISION
The workload of the Legal Division divides into four general areas: (1) preparing cases for hearing; (2) preparing amicus curiae briefs or performing in-house administrative written work; (3) mediation of discriminatory practice complaints; and (4) whistleblower retaliation. Interns may concentrate in one area or any combination of areas.
Preparing Cases for Hearing
Case preparation involves preparing discrimination 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.
Whistleblower Retaliation Complaints
The Legal Division was empowered in late 2011 to prosecute whistleblower retaliation claims. These claims are filed by employees of state agencies, large agency contractors or recipients of state funds who allege that they have been retaliated against because they have reported isntances of wrongdoing.
Students in 2011 argued a motion in the Appellate Court, wrote briefs in cases for the Appellate and Supreme Courts and mediated discrimination complaints. Students this past summer 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.
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 students.
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.
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, 25 Sigourney Street, Hartford, CT 06106; Telephone (860) 541-3429; Email: email@example.com