Full-Time Summer Law Clerk (Summer 2022)

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 2022 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 we partner 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:

  • A summer seminar series, providing overviews of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, different strategic approaches to youth and child advocacy, and key systemic issues informing YLC’s advocacy work today
  • 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/or writing project
  • Opportunities to observe legislative hearings, court proceedings, and visit juvenile facilities (as available)
  • Invitations to YLC and other summer law clerk 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:

The summer law clerk position is a full-time, 10-week position. The position may begin as early as the final week of May 2022, with flexibility for a later start date if needed.

This position may be completed on a fully-remote, virtual basis, and applicants are not required to live in or relocate to the San Francisco Bay Area to apply for and fulfill the summer law clerk position. Depending on state and local public health and safety guidelines, and contingent upon YLC’s COVID-19 office reopening plan, access to work within YLC’s physical office in San Francisco may be available to summer law clerks living locally in the Bay Area.

This position will be an unpaid, volunteer position; most summer law clerks pursue funding through their institution’s public interest funding program 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 summer 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 before the final application deadline. Our team will begin review of applications and interview scheduling in early January 2022. We anticipate filling most or all positions and notifying candidates by mid- to late February 2022. In the event that your timeline for making a decision about where you will spend your summer is more accelerated than our planned timeline, please let us know in your cover letter, as we may be able to offer earlier consideration for strong candidates.

To Apply:

Please submit a cover letter, resume, list of three professional/academic references, and a writing sample using the application form below. Law school transcripts are not required for this application and will not be taken into consideration in the hiring process if received. 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!

Send applications via email to careers@ylc.org. Applications must be complete, including all required attachments, at the time of submission or they may be disqualified from consideration. Please contact careers@ylc.org with any questions regarding the position or application process.

The Youth Law Center is an equal opportunity employer.

Final application deadline:  March 15th, 2022

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 email to careers@ylc.org.

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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