Community Legal Services is one of the nation’s most successful civil legal services programs, focusing on individual representation and systemic and law reform advocacy. CLS staff serves as catalysts to change for our clients in low-income communities throughout Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and often nationally. A career or internship with CLS is an exciting, enriching and challenging experience where you will be able to insure low-income individuals and families obtain equal access to justice and make systemic change.
CLS attorneys are nationally recognized experts in their areas of specialty. Our attorneys are regularly quoted in and contribute to local and national media such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Times, National Public Radio, and major network and cable news broadcasts. Additionally, CLS attorneys have testified before the U.S. Congress and are regularly consulted on legislation at the local, state and federal level.
CLS Social Workers play a critical role in the delivery of legal services at Community Legal Services, whether it is building relationships with clients or building coalitions across agencies. Working with seniors, homeowners, parents and tenants, CLS Social Workers provide significant legal assistance, advocacy, planning, and counseling. They develop working relationships with clients and their families and connect them to critical resources to help address current legal issues and prevent future legal problems. In addition, CLS Social Workers can be seen organizing cross system collaborations, providing educational workshops, developing new resources, and advocating for policy change.
What types of jobs are available with CLS:
CLS offers a variety of employment opportunities for attorneys, social workers, interns & externs (summer & school-year), paralegals, and administrative and development staff. CLS regularly hosts attorney fellowships and annually seeks candidates interested in CLS sponsorship and support for submission of application for fellowship with a variety of fellowship funding organizations.
CLS also provides diverse field placement opportunities for students of social work in the areas of general practice, family advocacy, and housing. Social work interns gain valuable insight into the intricacies of social work practice in the legal setting, including both direct service and systems advocacy. Field placement activities may include individualized case management, home visits, client advocacy, coalition meetings, and court hearings. In addition, CLS social workers provide interns with one-on-one supervision, educational opportunities, and the ability to network with experts in the field.
What are the types of issues and area of focus does CLS work on?
As a large, urban program in the nation’s 5th largest city, CLS offers substantial opportunities for staff to accept the exciting challenge of delivering high quality legal services to a diverse client population. Our advocacy includes direct representation as well as policy advocacy, community education, and impact litigation. CLS provides excellent training and professional growth for all staff because of the richness of the advocacy that is provided to our clients.
Annually CLS serves more than 11,500 eligible clients, providing assistance on diverse and overlapping civil legal problems which include:
- social security/SSI
- consumer protection
- domestic violence
- public assistance
- child welfare
- employment problems
- public utility access and rates
- medical assistance
- veteran’s benefits
- civil rights
- food assistance (SNAP/Food Stamps)
- rights of limited English proficient individuals
CLS is not currently accepting applications for fellowship sponsorship.
Please look out for our hiring process in the Spring of 2024 for fellowships that would start in Fall 2025.
If you have any questions you can contact the Chair of the Attorney Hiring Committee, Rachel Labush
Applications are currently open for Summer 2024 Internships! Apply here.
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia offers a summer internship program for approximately 15-20 students that have completed their first or second year of law school.
CLS offers a rich and exciting summer internship experience. Our law students receive exceptional training and the opportunity to work with some of the most talented legal minds in civil legal services. Student interns at CLS will be placed into one of our seven legal units, and also will have the opportunity to learn about the other areas of CLS’s work through programming offered throughout the summer. All CLS interns will have the opportunity to work directly with clients, engage with the communities we serve, and contribute to systemic advocacy efforts to advance economic and racial equity.
At CLS we are actively engaged in dialogue regarding how legal services organizations can contribute to and advance racial justice for low income communities. CLS’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee structures this conversation as CLS continues to find ways to enhance its legal practice model.
CLS is also committed to ensuring our staff, including our law student interns, reflect the clients and communities we serve. We strongly encourage law students from diverse backgrounds to apply for our internship. In your cover letter we invite you to tell us how your unique background and/or experiences can contribute to the diversity, vitality, and cultural perspective of our staff, clients, and legal practice.
CLS also recognizes that the law student internship experience is a critical career stepping stone, as many of our former interns eventually go on to be selected as attorney fellows. CLS has established a scholarship fund for law students of color with financial need, called the Senator Roxanne Jones Summer Law Student Fellowship, to enable future leaders in public interest law to spend their summer interning at CLS. Scholarships are available on a competitive basis to eligible law students who accept an offer to intern with CLS.
Internships at CLS are otherwise unpaid. Students whose socio-economic circumstances are such that an unpaid internship would be an exceptional hardship are encouraged to disclose this in their cover letter or reach out to one of the co-chairs of the law student hiring committee. CLS will work with our students to find sources of funding and obtain housing for the summer in Philadelphia if needed.
Students who are interested in applying for post-graduate legal fellowships with CLS should apply to our summer program. In recent years, CLS has been host to attorney fellows sponsored by Skadden, Independence, Equal Justice Works, and other fellowship funders. The experience gained during the summer and contacts made during an internship at CLS can be invaluable in the fellowship application process.
To apply for a summer internship, please submit the following through our online application:
- Cover letter addressing interest and experience in public interest and poverty law/racial justice advocacy
- Law school transcript
- List of three (3) references