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Chandra Law creates John Lewis Civil Rights Litigation Fellowship to honor hero Rep. John Lewis

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Two-year fellowship to train newer lawyers in civil-rights litigation is open to those who have completed or are about to complete federal judicial clerkships.

Chandra Law creates John Lewis Civil Rights Litigation Fellowship to honor hero Rep. John Lewis
Chandra Law's founding and managing partner Subodh Chandra with Rep. John Lewis in 2011 at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland's annual meeting.

Although we've been planning this fellowship for some time, Rep. Lewis's recent announcement that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer hastened our implementation. We had to do something concrete beyond offering our fervent thoughts and prayers—we need to show our respect, gratitude, and love for him—and play our small part in securing his legacy by helping create the next generation of civil-rights lawyers. We hope and pray he wins this fight as he has won so many others.

Subodh Chandra
Founding and Managing Partner
The Chandra Law Firm LLC

Cleveland, OH – To honor our civil-rights hero, U.S. Representative John Lewis, Chandra Law—peer-reviewed in U.S. News & World Reports as one of the Best Law Firms in America for Civil Rights—has established a two-year fellowship to introduce newer lawyers with federal-judicial-clerkship experience to civil-rights legal advocacy.

Rep. Lewis was a hero of America's civil-rights movement. He was born the son of sharecroppers in 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama. He grew up on his family's farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama. Inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words on radio broadcasts, Lewis decided to join the Civil-Rights Movement.

As a student at Fisk University, Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. He risked his life on those Rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was also beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.

During the height of the Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism in the Movement, including sit-ins and other activities.

At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter-registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. On March 7,1965. Lewis co-led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. Alabama state troopers then brutally attacked the peaceful protestors, including Lewis—who suffered a skull fracture—in what became known as "Bloody Sunday." News reports showing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

After years of additional social-justice and public service, Lewis was first elected to Congress in 1986. He's the recipient, among numerous other awards, of the highest American civilian honor—the Medal of Freedom, and the only John F. Kennedy "Profile in Courage Award" for Lifetime Achievement ever granted.

Lewis is also the co-author of the National Book Award winning and #1 New York Times bestselling graphic-novel memoir trilogy MARCH, which Chandra Law's founding and managing partner Subodh Chandra highly recommends.

Chandra said, "Although we've been planning this fellowship for some time, Rep. Lewis's recent announcement that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer hastened our implementation. We had to do something concrete beyond offering our fervent thoughts and prayers—we need to show our respect, gratitude, and love for him—and play our small part in securing his legacy by helping create the next generation of civil-rights lawyers. We hope and pray he wins this fight as he has won so many others."

A description is below and on our hiring page, which is the place to apply.

John Lewis Civil Rights Litigation Fellow (one-to-five years of experience by the time the fellowship begins).

Selections will be made on a rolling basis with a final deadline for application of June 1 for fall of that same year. Early applications for fall of the year that follows are strongly encouraged.

What the John Lewis Fellowship is and why we offer it

Now, more than ever, we need to develop the next generation of civil-rights trial lawyers. This fellowship is designed to do just that.

Qualifications

By the time their fellowship begins, applicants must have at least 1-to-5 years of litigation experience, which must include a federal judicial clerkship.

We seek the following attributes:

  • Strong work ethic with the ability to manage a significant volume of work,
  • Happy-warrior spirit balanced by a strong sense of professionalism,
  • Grit and persistence,
  • Extremely self-organized, efficient, and detail-oriented,
  • Perfectionist with a drive for excellence,
  • Strong academic and other credentials comparable to our existing team, including firm or public-service experience,
  • A federal judicial clerkship completed by the time the fellowship begins,
  • Demonstrated commitment to and passion for civil rights, civil liberties, and the public interest,
  • Polished plain-English writing skills (no use of legalese), with significant, persuasive legal-writing experience,
  • Growth-mindset—desire to learn,
  • Collaborative, team-oriented attitude, with ego in check,
  • Sense of humor,
  • Progressive, community commitment—demonstrated change agent, and
  • Ohio bar admission, or eligibility to obtain provisional admission upon job offer and admission without examination.

Karaoke skills go a long way too.

What you will gain

We expect that fellows will be introduced to every aspect of complex civil-rights litigation, from direct client engagement and factual investigation and development, to drafting federal complaints, to conducting discovery including taking and assisting with depositions, to identifying and developing expert testimony, to drafting key briefs, to engaging in mediation, to engaging in pretrial preparation and trial.

Fellows will benefit from mentorship from our partners in a collaborative and collegial firm setting, and receive targeted feedback on your legal writing, witness examinations, and other substantive work. We will also introduce them to our broader network in the civil-rights and judicial community.

Base compensation for the fellowship will depend upon experience, although applicants should keep in mind that this is public-interest work.

How to apply and what we need

Qualified candidates should submit the following in .pdf format through the form at the bottom of our hiring page at https://www.chandralaw.com/about/hiring:

  • Cover letter articulating how you measure up under the above criteria, and what you would be able to contribute to the types of causes we champion,
  • Résumé,
  • List of at least three professional references, and
  • Law-school transcript, and
  • Three unprivileged or appropriately redacted writing samples.

Before applying

Before applying, candidates should study our blog and practice areas to determine whether our work excites you, and so you may articulate what you might be able to contribute to the types of causes we champion.

Our commitment to equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion

Chandra Law is an equal-opportunity employer, committed to effectively serving its diverse clientele. We strongly encourage applications from candidates from non-traditional legal backgrounds, including persons of color, persons of all genders and sexual orientations, first-generation professionals, and persons with disabilities.

Related Practice Areas
Voting rightsPolice misconduct & brutalityRace discrimination
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