Fall 2025 Fellowship - Tennessee Youth Justice Advocacy

Position Summary

The Youth Law Center (YLC) is seeking applications from third-year law students and judicial clerks who are interested in working on youth justice and related advocacy areas in Tennessee and in applying for fellowships offered by the Skadden Fellowship Foundation, Equal Justice Works Foundation, and law-school-specific or other sponsored fellowships. Candidates for this role should be self-starters with an interest in system-impact projects, particularly in the area of increasing the capacity of civil legal aid attorneys in Tennessee to address collateral challenges faced by youth and families impacted by the youth justice system.

The Youth Law Center has been working on the ground in Tennessee since 2021, with a focus on youth justice and capacity building for systemic advocacy. This fellowship project will build on that work, and address the racial justice challenges that face youth impacted by the justice system in Tennessee.

Our staff will work closely with the selected candidate to develop a strong fellowship proposal for Tennessee statewide youth justice advocacy that will integrate well with YLC’s mission and related areas of focus. Candidates should be located in Tennessee or willing to relocate there for the term of the fellowship.

About YLC’s Advocacy

YLC is a nonprofit legal advocacy organization that has worked since 1978 to protect children in the nation’s foster care and justice systems from abuse and neglect and to ensure that they receive the necessary support and services to become healthy and productive adults. Attorneys at YLC utilize a variety of traditional and creative advocacy strategies, including policy advocacy; litigation; legislative and administrative/regulatory work; collaborative systems-reform campaigns; public education and media advocacy; legal and non-legal writing; training; and technical assistance. YLC’s advocacy approach is grounded in the belief that those most directly impacted by systems are best positioned to transform them. As advocates, we seek out the spaces and places where we can hear from those young people and their families and offer them the support they need to lift up the vision they have for change. We believe that change comes from deeply listening to young people and the organizations that support them, from helping them to translate their ideas into practice and policy change, and from working in partnership to move forward a new narrative about what’s needed to transform systems.

Our advocacy goals include:

  • Ending incarceration of youth in juvenile justice and reimagining new approaches to youth justice
  • Ending use of congregate care for youth in foster care and juvenile justice and ensuring youth receive excellent parenting
  • Improving access to education, including postsecondary education, for system-involved youth
  • Ensuring healthy transitions to adulthood for system-involved youth and access to required services to make that transition
  • Advocating for improved conditions in foster care and juvenile justice systems

Attorneys on our legal team also engage in strategic collaboration with our non-attorney advocacy staff who work on a variety of systems-reform efforts, including YLC’s national Quality Parenting Initiative strategy, Just Beginnings program, and Pathways from Youth Incarceration to Higher Education project.

Skills & Experience

Factors that will be utilized in evaluating candidates include:

  • Demonstrated commitment to public interest law
  • Knowledge of, experience with, or strong interest in child welfare and/or juvenile justice issues
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Strong analytic ability and legal research skills
  • Ability to work independently yet also work well with others
  • Anticipated or current bar membership (with strong preference given to applicants who are or will be members of the Tennessee Bar)
  • Ability to travel within Tennessee and, occasionally, to other U.S. locations

People of color and individuals who have lived experience in the child welfare and/or juvenile justice system are strongly encouraged to apply.

Employment & Benefit Details

  • Employment Status: Full-time, exempt; this may be either a one-year or two-year position (depending upon the term of the awarded fellowship), with the potential to extend into a full-time staff position in related work at the conclusion of the fellowship.
  • Salary: $74,000 – $83,000; fellows will begin at the bottom of this range unless they have prior post-graduate experience in a judicial clerkship or another fellowship. The fellow must obtain external funding, and YLC will supplement salary up to the relevant salary step on our scale.
  • Paid Time Off: This position is eligible for YLC’s flexible, unlimited paid vacation policy, as well as generous accrued paid sick time and 11+ paid holidays annually.
  • Benefits: Complete health benefits package (medical HMO & PPO options, dental, vision, STD, LTD, and life) as well as an EAP, remote work reimbursement, healthcare and dependent care FSA plans and, after one year of service, a 401k with up to 4% employer match. Currently, all health benefits coverage is 100% employer-paid, with no employee or dependent premium contribution.
  • Location: This position will be based in Tennessee and will be fully remote, with opportunities for in-person work with YLC’s other Nashville-based staff member as relevant and needed for the project.

To Apply

Please submit an application via email to careers@ylc.org and include all of the following required documents:

  1. Cover letter, explaining your interest in YLC, including why you are specifically interested in working on a project related to access to civil legal aid for juvenile justice impacted youth in Tennessee. This letter should also outline related work or life experience that make you an excellent candidate for this position.
  2. Resume
  3. Writing sample
  4. List of at least three academic or professional references

Please submit all required documents (either as a single PDF or as separate Word or PDF document attachments) at the time of application. Incomplete applications will not be considered for this position.

Timeline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but preference will be given to applications received by May 1, 2024, as interviews will be conducted during the summer.

If you have questions about this position or the application process, feel free to contact us at careers@ylc.org. Due to the volume of applications and questions we receive, we may not be able to respond to every inquiry in detail.

About YLC

YLC’s mission is to transform foster care and juvenile justice systems across the nation so every child and youth can thrive. Our goal is to ensure that, whenever a system must intervene in the life of a child, that child will receive the supports, services, and excellent parenting they need to become a flourishing adult. YLC’s specific, actionable, and sustainable advocacy strategies are shaped by the voices of youth and families most impacted by these systems and are informed by research in child development, psychology, behavioral economics, marketing and branding, and adult learning. The YLC team reflects the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills needed to make our creative approach to advocacy successful. Find out more about us at ylc.org and qpi4kids.org.

Equal Opportunity Employer

YLC values a diverse, inclusive workforce and we provide equal employment opportunity for all applicants and employees. All qualified applicants for employment will be considered without regard to an individual’s race, color, sex, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, body size, national origin or ancestry, citizenship, physical or mental disability, medical condition, family care status, marital status, domestic partner status, sexual orientation, genetic information, military or veteran status, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Read our DEI statement here.


Posting Date: 2/2/2024