The Legal Action Center (LAC) seeks candidates for collaboration on Equal Justice Works (EJW), Skadden, and other public interest fellowship applications to work in LAC’s New York City office beginning fall 2021. LAC seeks to sponsor a fellow for one of the two projects listed below. Interested candidates should follow the application directions detailed at the bottom of this posting.LAC uses legal and policy strategies to fight discrimination, build health equity, and restore opportunity for people with criminal records, substance use disorders, and HIV or AIDS. Through its New York City headquarters and Washington, D.C. office, LAC uses a multi-faceted approach to effectuate its mission, including impact litigation, legal services, education, and policy analysis and advocacy.Projects1. Access to Employment for Individuals with Criminal Justice Histories:Decades of punitive criminal justice and drug policies have led to mass criminalization and incarceration, particularly of Black and brown people. The results of these failed policies have devastated lives and perpetuated systemic inequities on a massive scale. Today, 1 in 3 American adults has a criminal record, most of whom are low-income individuals of color. With more than 44,000 collateral consequences existing to block people with conviction histories from accessing their basic needs, people with records find themselves perpetually tied to the yoke of their criminal histories.Today, more than 90 percent of employers conduct some type of criminal background check on prospective employees. This number is even higher for professional licensing agencies. And despite New York State and City laws prohibiting discrimination based on a criminal record, individuals with criminal histories face unimaginable struggle in finding and keeping employment.At this critical time in our nation, when demonstrations and conversations around the country are demanding a change to our punitive policies, it is imperative that we reckon with the harms these policies have already caused for the millions of New Yorkers living with criminal records. LAC seeks to sponsor a New York fellow to think creatively about how to strengthen protections for people with criminal records to increase their employment opportunities, while working to ensure compliance with already existing laws. This work will be urgent as New York seeks to recover from the massive job and financial losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. LAC will work with its fellow to design a project that may include:· Enforcing New York State and New York City anti-discrimination and occupational licensing laws that protect individuals from criminal record employment discrimination through provision of direct legal services;· Selectively litigating employment or licensing cases before judicial or administrative bodies;· Strategizing with indiviuals directly impacted by the criminal legal system about approaches to education, policy reform, and legal enforcement;· Developing a proposal to strengthen New York’s employment anti-discrimination and occupational licensing laws by amending existing laws and considering new models. 2. Promoting a Health – not Punitive – Response to Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders and Reducing Racial Disparities in Access to Care:The legal system often uses a punitive approach for people with substance use and mental health disorders – unlike the treatment of people with other health conditions. Individuals who use or once used drugs are denied anti-discrimination protections in the workplace, reported to authorities when they seek health care, prosecuted rather than helped after an overdose, and forced to have their substance use treatment records shared with the criminal legal and child welfare systems. These practices disproportionately impact Black and brown communities, which are overpoliced, excessively monitored by government systems, and denied equitable access to health care.LAC has worked for decades to protect and enforce the rights of individuals who have substance use disorders to be free from discrimination, maintain the privacy of their treatment records, and access health care. LAC believes that a public health and harm reduction approach to substance use will address the overdose and related health crises far more effectively than the current punitive approach, while also addressing the systemic racism that underlies the current system, including the criminalization of mental health and substance use disorders. The current national pandemic has underscored the enormous racial disparities in health care access and illustrated the unjust harms that will persist without intentional and informed work to change how Black communities are treated by the health and criminal legal systems and our society as a whole.LAC seeks to sponsor a fellow to collaborate on the development of a project to advocate for the rights of people with substance use and mental health disorders to receive equitable access to health care, employment, housing, and other life needs. A fellowship could consist of some of the following:· Provide legal services for New Yorkers denied jobs, housing, occupational/professional licensing, and access to health care because of substance use, through informal advocacy and formal representation;· Conduct impact litigation on issues such as (i) enforcing and expanding the rights of individuals with substance use and mental health disorders to insurance coverage for treatment, and (ii) access to evidence-based treatment in the criminal legal system;· Educate attorneys, service providers, the medical field, peer workers, and other stakeholders on strategies to advocate for the rights of people with substance use and/or mental health disorders;· Conduct community engagement among the Black community in New York, which has been largely shut out of the narrative of the current opioid crisis and the conversation about bringing a health, rather than punitive, approach to addiction, to learn particular needs of the community, share know-your-rights information, and discuss harm reduction strategies.Application Instructions: Submit a cover letter explaining your interest in one or both projects, resume, and writing sample to Samantha Reiser, firstname.lastname@example.org and Rebekah Joab, email@example.com. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, but priority will be given to those received by August 3, 2020.