Legal Empowerment Fellow
Legal Empowerment Fellow at the Global Health Justice Partnership
Application Deadline August 15, 2021
The Legal Empowerment Fellow is a two-year position, starting in or around September 1, 2021, designed for JD, MPH, or PhD graduates interested in legal empowerment, community organizing, and health justice. The Fellow will support the Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP)’s work to facilitate the development of innovative practices and models of organizing to address the legal needs of street-engaged, precariously housed or unhoused, and/or drug-using individuals in New Haven. These communities often struggle to access existing sources of legal assistance and support, and the range of their legal needs is not fully known. The GHJP seeks to work with community partners to develop a legal empowerment program in New Haven that could identify and serve these needs.
We expect to draw from the growing fields of critical legal empowerment and movement law, including engaging with models that decenter legal solutions as well as those that enlist law: these models include paralegal training of affected community members, community-based legal aid, Know Your Rights training and advocacy programs, community health worker programs, programs that support community advocacy for rights while navigating in and outside of legal systems, potentially finding non-legal solutions to health justice issues, and so on. The Medical-Legal Partnerships premise of joint coordination to meet legal and health needs will also inform both conceptual and structural aspects of this project, as we expect that legal empowerment will likely work alongside harm reduction and homeless health services, since meeting individuals’ legal needs can also help stabilize their health and serve health equity.
The Fellow will lead discussions, research, and coalition-building to facilitate the development of a financially and logistically viable model and practices that can be responsive to the local needs and context, and will help to incubate such an intervention through convenings of affected communities including drug users, sex workers, unhoused individuals and others, as well as legal assistance lawyers, MLP advocates, grassroot practitioners of paralegal and other community-based legal support models, health justice advocates, and scholars working across disciplines. GHJP hopes this work will both serve a critical need in New Haven, and offer a possible model for other jurisdictions around the country.
The fellowship is a unique opportunity for individuals interested in preparing for a career in community-based health justice work, including community-responsive legal work, interdisciplinary health justice approaches, or engaged legal scholarship. Through close collaboration with GHJP faculty, students, and partners, the Fellow will gain hands-on experience with advocacy, community engagement, student mentorship, interdisciplinary exchange, and scholarly research and writing. The ideal candidate will have a JD, MPH, or PhD and relevant work experience, such as community organizing in the context of health justice work, policy/advocacy work related to access to justice, community-based legal services, or health justice for underserved individuals.
About the GHJP:
The Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP), an initiative of the Yale Law School and Yale School of Public Health, was established in 2012 to promote interdisciplinary, innovative, and effective responses to key problems in health justice. It is a transformative collaboration integrating different fields in order to make critical policy interventions, develop new kinds of cross-cutting research, and provide educational opportunities straddling a variety of academic disciplines. Leveraging Yale's institutional assets, the GHJP trains students to undertake collaborative, real-world research and advocacy to promote health justice in the U.S. and globally. It also organizes conferences and events; builds partnerships with local NGOs and social movements in New Haven, the U.S. and around the world to move research and critical analyses into action; and nurtures a truly interdisciplinary brain trust dedicated to effecting social change.
Over the years, the GHJP has moved toward increased engagement in the U.S. and locally as part of our commitment to playing a role in a shift of access to knowledge and power to community organizations working for health justice. We have developed key partnerships and projects with local community groups around issues of sex workers rights and health, access to services for poor and underserved individuals, and harm reduction approaches to substance use, with the overarching goal of redistributing services and resources away from carceral and punitive systems and building power for affected communities to shape the policies that govern their lives.
The cornerstone of GHJP is a practicum/clinic course fusing didactic and experiential learning on critical topics at the intersection of public health, rights, and justice in the twenty-first century. In Fall 2021, the GHJP practicum will likely include several experiential projects building on our ongoing work on sex workers rights, local harm reduction, and the COVID-19 crisis.
- The Legal Empowerment Fellow will be an integral part of the GHJP, supporting various aspects of the GHJP’s work. Likely tasks will include:
- Support for our practicum. Work may include assistance developing course materials and student supervision for projects linking interdisciplinary student teams with outside partners.
- Developing research or project work with students outside of the course on legal empowerment-related work that GHJP is undertaking.
- Provide programmatic support for the GHJP, for example related to communications and events related to our legal empowerment work.
- Engaging in self-directed research and advocacy related to legal empowerment and health justice.
- Strengthening and developing new relationships with community partners and local organizations.
The Fellowship is supported through the Niarchos Fund at the Yale Law School.
The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:
- A graduate degree with a significant amount of law-related training or experience (e.g., health law, legal history, etc.)
- 2-4 years of prior experience in health law and health-relevant law, access to justice, labor rights, human rights, or other related field
- Experience with community organizing, advocacy, or other community-based work
- Strong written and oral communication skills
- An interest and proven capacity in legal and/or public health scholarship
- A commitment to developing relationships with community partners, with particular attention to the power issues arising from university-based advocacy
- An ability to work independently and as part of a team, including management skills
- Prior teaching experience and an enthusiastic commitment to working closely with students
Additionally, the following experience and qualifications would be desirable:
- A J.D. degree from a U.S. law school (or the equivalent)
- Training and/or work experience in public health or another health-related field
- Familiarity with principles of harm reduction in the context of substance use and/or sex work
- Prior experience living and working in an urban area, and engaging in some aspect of power-building with marginalized communities.
The position is for a two-year term, ideally starting on or around September 1, 2021 with a salary of $68,000 plus excellent benefits and access to university facilities. In light of the exigencies of COVID-19 and academic planning, there may be some flexibility in the starting date. The position may start remote for the first few months, but the Fellow will need to be located in New Haven (or close enough to spend significant time here) by the end of Fall 2021.
Applicants should send a resume, a cover letter making the case for their candidacy, contact information for three references, and a 15-20 page writing sample (academic or substantive policy analysis, e.g.) by email to Sarah.Harwood@yale.edu.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis starting immediately. Interested applicants should submit the required materials by August 15; however, we will review applications on a rolling basis so we encourage applicants to send their application as soon as possible. Please feel free to send a letter of interest before the complete materials are ready. If you have questions about the process, send them to Sarah.Harwood@yale.edu.
Yale University considers applicants for employment without regard to, and does not discriminate on the basis of, an individual's sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
This Fellowship is made possible with the support of the Niarchos Fund for the Integration of Theory and Practice.