Full-Time Summer Law Clerk

Youth Law Center invites current 1L – 3L students to explore their interest in making systemic change in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems by applying to join us as a summer 2021 law clerk.

Since 1978, YLC has advocated on behalf of systems-involved young people to end traumatic practices and unsafe conditions in California and nationally, and to ensure that young people receive the supports, opportunities, and quality care they need in order to become successful, thriving adults. YLC has led the field to transform the child welfare and juvenile justice systems to be truly child-focused and research-informed, through impact litigation, policy reform, media advocacy, collaborative system-change projects, training and technical assistance, and public education. YLC is especially committed to centering the perspectives and voices of the young people and families most impacted by the systems we advocate to change, and partners with other organizations that share this priority.

Our summer law clerks will support a variety of YLC’s ongoing and emerging advocacy projects, based on their particular interests and strengths, with a specific goal of developing at least one strong writing sample for use in future job and funding applications. Law clerks will enjoy the benefits of working with multiple staff attorneys and fellows in our highly collaborative, welcoming, and dedicated team, and can look forward to a rich summer program including:

  • Our much-loved summer seminar series, providing comprehensive overviews of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, as well as sessions on different strategic approaches to advocacy and exploring a variety of possible career paths
  • Participation in YLC team meetings, strategic advocacy meetings, and other workgroups on areas of interest
  • Close one-on-one supervisory support and feedback from one or more staff attorneys
  • Completion of a substantial research and writing project
  • Opportunities to observe legislative hearings, court proceedings, and visit juvenile facilities (as available)
  • Invitations to YLC and other summer law clerk social events

Examples of recent law clerk projects include:

  • A research memo on short-term residential therapeutic placements (STRTPs) during COVID-19
  • An op-ed on the planned California Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) closure
  • A handbook on prudent parent standards for foster youth participation in social justice and activism
  • A research memo on California Department of Social Services’ (CDSS) responsibilities regarding out-of-state facilities and licensing

Qualified candidates will have excellent research and writing skills, experience and/or interest in child and youth advocacy, and a desire to explore the nonprofit legal aid and systemic advocacy environments as a possible career path. We are particularly interested in hearing from students with personal, lived experience in child welfare and juvenile justice systems and people from historically marginalized identities that are disproportionately represented in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. YLC believes that those who have experienced these systems are best positioned to understand the impacts of systems-change, and we’re committed to developing youth advocates with lived experience through our hiring practices.

Position Details:

Depending on state and local health and safety guidance related to COVID-19 next summer, this position may be fulfilled either on-site in the YLC San Francisco office or be completed as a fully virtual program.

This position will be an unfunded, volunteer position, and most summer law clerks pursue funding through their institution’s public interest or other funding program in order to participate. However, we may have a limited number of need-based, YLC-funded positions available for students unable to obtain their own funding. Please indicate in your cover letter if you might be interested in one of our funded positions.


Applications may be submitted at any time. Our team will start review in early 2021 and will schedule interviews beginning the week of January 18th. We anticipate filling most positions by mid- to late February. In the event that your timeline for making a decision about where you will spend your summer is more accelerated than this, please let us know in your cover letter and we may be able to offer earlier consideration.

To Apply:

Please submit a cover letter, resume, list of three professional/academic references, and a writing sample using the application form below. Students with personal lived experience in the child welfare and/or juvenile justice systems are strongly encouraged to explain their personal motivations for pursuing a legal advocacy career in their cover letter!

The Youth Law Center is an equal opportunity employer.

Final Application Deadline: March 15th, 2021

If you are interested, please submit a cover letter, resume, list of three personal references and a writing sample. Youth Law Center is an equal opportunity employer. Your application package may be submitted via the following link:


Or, you may send it via postal mail to:

Youth Law Center
attn: Careers
832 Folsom Street, #700
San Francisco, CA 94107

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