The Institute Announces the Honorable Dickinson R. Debevoise Social Justice Legal Advocacy Fellowship Position

Newark, NJ -- A founding trustee of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise dedicated his life to social justice and advocating for the most vulnerable members of our society.  From representing civil rights workers as a legal advocate in the Deep South during the Civil Rights Movement, to serving as President of the Newark Legal Services Project, Judge Debevoise left an indelible mark on both the City of Newark and the state of New Jersey. The Institute is proud to host a Debevoise Fellow to honor the incredible life and legacy of Judge Debevoise, a revered jurist and civil rights advocate. As a founding member of the Institute, he made an inimitable impact on the Institute that carries on through today.

The Debevoise Fellowship provides an early-career lawyer with the opportunity to spend a year as a staff attorney with the Institute. The ideal candidate for the Fellowship is a recent law school graduate who exhibits a deep and abiding commitment to Judge Debevoise’s passion: fighting for justice and equality.

The Debevoise Fellow will help develop public policy, legal, and advocacy strategies, and public education campaigns, in addition to helping convene community meetings and participating in conferences. Through this work, the Fellow will cultivate relationships with leading community leaders, lawyers, government officials, academics, and organizing/advocacy experts.

The Debevoise Fellowship is an exciting opportunity for a junior attorney to advance social and racial justice on behalf of New Jersey’s urban communities at a critical time in our history in the Institute’s three programmatic areas: (1) economic mobility; (2) criminal justice reform; and (3) civic engagement.

Using a holistic approach to address the unique and critical issues facing New Jersey’s urban communities, the Institute advocates for systemic reform that is at once transformative, achievable in the state, and replicable in communities across the nation. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Collaborate with Institute attorneys in supporting and developing proposals for legislation, regulations, and policy initiatives regarding the full range of the Institute’s core issues—including economic justice, housing, voting rights, and criminal and juvenile justice reform.
  • Research and draft policy analysis, position papers, reports, legal memoranda, letters, testimony, and advocacy materials pertaining to legislation, proposed administrative rules and regulations, and government policies and practices affecting the Institute’s core programming priorities.
  • Research and draft op-eds, online articles, and opinion pieces.
  • Attend coalition meetings and symposia and participate in in-depth briefings pertaining to Institute priority issues.
  • Engage in public speaking, including with the media and at conferences for expert and lay audiences.
  • Work in collaboration with Institute attorneys and staff, coalition members, and community partners on issue-based campaigns.
  • Help organize policy roundtables and convenings exploring the Institute’s priority issues. 
  • Work with Institute attorneys to develop and incubate policy and advocacy initiatives as prototypes.
  • Coordinate with campaign/outreach staff to ensure seamless integration of policy research with community outreach efforts.
  • Work with partner organizations and individuals to advance the Institute’s mission, engage on shared priorities, and exchange knowledge and information in support of the Institute’s programs and initiatives.
  • Assist with the integration of litigation, legislative initiatives, policy goals, public education, and targeted campaigns.


  • Law degree, preferably a clerkship or one to three years of experience as a practicing attorney (although recent graduates will also be considered).
  • Ability to work effectively with diverse coalitions and community groups, and to work across political ideology, race, ethnicity, socio-economic circumstances, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and religion.
  • Passion for, and knowledge of, racial and social justice, and a familiarity with the work and mission of the Institute.
  • Strong analytic capabilities and an ability to provide constitutional analysis of legislative and administrative policy.
  • Outstanding legal research, writing, and oral communication skills; superior attention to detail; ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously; good problem-solving skills and a positive, professional attitude with excellent judgment, flexibility, determination, and grace in a fast-paced office.
  • Integrity, honesty, and a balanced, non-partisan approach.
  • Ability to work effectively in a collaborative context and participate in teams, including a willingness to circulate widely, communicate openly, listen well, and learn from others.
  • Excellent judgment and follow through.
  • Ability to think creatively and develop new and innovative litigation, policy, and advocacy strategies.


This is a full-time, at-will position. Salary is commensurate with experience and includes excellent benefits, including health, a 401(k) plan with an employer contribution, and generous vacation, sick, and holiday leave.


Applications will be reviewed beginning the week of February 6, 2017, and will be accepted until the position is filled. Please email your cover letter, law school transcripts, resume, two professional writing samples (including at least one legal writing sample) on which you are the primary author, and three professional references to [email protected].  Please submit your application materials via Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF.  Include all attachments in a single email stating, in the subject line, “Debevoise Fellow.”

About the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice:

The Institute is an equal opportunity employer, and we value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture.

The Institute’s mission is to empower urban residents to realize and achieve their full potential. Established in 1999 by Alan V. and Amy Lowenstein, the Institute’s dynamic and independent advocacy is aimed at toppling load-bearing walls of structural inequality to create just, vibrant, and healthy urban communities. We employ a broad range of advocacy tools to advance our ambitious urban agenda, including research, analysis and writing, public education, grassroots organizing, communications, the development of pilot programs, legislative strategies, and litigation. 

About Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise: The Hon. Dickinson R. Debevoise was a founding Institute trustee and our beloved friend. Judge Debevoise was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War; he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his heroic service. Upon returning home, Judge Debevoise began practicing law and became involved in the Civil Rights Movement, representing civil rights workers in Mississippi who were participating in the Mississippi Freedom Summer.  In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him a district court judge for the District of New Jersey, a position in which he served with unparalleled distinction until his death at the age of 91. Judge Debevoise was a passionate advocate who worked tirelessly for equal justice and generously sharing his expertise with numerous nonprofit organizations.

Judge Debevoise was kind, compassionate, and brilliant.  His unassailable personal integrity and serene, thoughtful demeanor won the deepest respect from those around him—both inside and outside the courtroom. As the Institute’s founding vice-president, trustee, and ultimately trustee emeritus, Judge Debevoise helped to shape the Institute’s mission, culture and priorities. 

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