Help me find a volunteer position in the Bay Area.
July 28, 2006 6:39 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions for legal internships / volunteer positions for a recent college graduate in the Bay Area?

Since graduating from college in May, I have had more free time that I know what to do with. Now that I've burned through two and a half months of it, I'd like to do something worthwhile.

I am interested in pursuing a volunteer position or an internship at an organization like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. However, as I've found out, the EFF is not currently looking for new interns. Are there any other similar organizations I can turn to? I am open to both paid or unpaid positions, and I am fine with doing work on-site or from my home. Essentially, I am just trying to find a volunteer position with an organization that does something in the field of free speech, legal aid, digital rights, civic and religious freedoms, individual rights, etc.

As far as my qualifications go - I have a B.A. from UC Berkeley, graduated with highest honors, and completed a major honors thesis project on Sony v. Universal and MGM v. Grokster with a top-notch intellectual property professor at Boalt, the Berkeley law school. I have four years of experience working as a legal assistant in a workers' compensation firm, and I'm familiar with a number of research and database software applications. I'm handy with computers, and have a lot of experience in drafting pleadings and correspondence, as well as phone communications. I've also done a fair share of graphic design work, with some formal training in Photoshop and Illustrator.

So - ideas?
posted by Pontius Pilate to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry to be a wet blanket, but most of these are reserved for law students, unless you have the kind of undergraduate background, like microbiology, that someone might seek and is rarish in law schools, or if your dad runs the institution. Well, it isn't really that bleak, but close.
posted by caddis at 7:28 PM on July 28, 2006

VolunteerMatch finds lots of bay area volunteer positions in your areas of interest.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 7:43 PM on July 28, 2006

There are generally two types of internships with non-profit legal organizations: legal internships and non-legal internships. Caddis is right about not being able to get a legal internship as someone without any law school experience (there would be liability issues, among other things) but you definitely can get a non-legal internship. You won't be drafting legal documents and whatnot, however. In fact, I think telling potential employers that this is the sort of thing you want to do will make you look inexperienced or naieve.

As an undergrad I had a pretty good (unpaid) internship with the ACLU and people always comment when they see it on my resume. The ACLU has an office in California; it couldn't hurt to check with them.

I'm not sure about your reasons for seeking unpaid work, but I just thought I'd note that your background gives you a pretty good shot at getting a paid position with one of these organizations. Look at websites like and the individual organizations' sites for paralegal openings or research assistant positions. For those jobs, they usually want a BA and about the level of work experience you have.
posted by chickletworks at 8:06 PM on July 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far. I think I could have been clearer in my question. I am currently working part-time (3 days a week), which makes seeking a paid position difficult, since most of them seem to be full-time.

I am absolutely fine with getting a non-legal internship, but optimally, I would like to have a position with an organization that focuses on legal work (e.g., something like EFF). I don't expect to draft pleadings without having gone to law school, but I would think that with my experience as a legal assistant, I could engage in legal and other research (since that's about 80% of what I currently do at my job).

ACLU is definitely a good suggestion, and I'll follow up on that.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 8:12 PM on July 28, 2006

Seconding chickletworks's answer.

I believe that many not-for-profits in the NYC area post openings on Idealist. I suspect SF-based organizations do the same.

You might also post your question here.
posted by NYCinephile at 2:44 AM on July 29, 2006

You might check out California Lawyers for the Arts. Their Bay Area office is at Fort Mason. They have a newly listed internship for one day a week processing memberships, plus a list of other possible internships.
posted by trip and a half at 8:01 AM on July 29, 2006

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