Legal Researcher Intern

The Open Society Justice Initiative uses law to protect and empower people around the world. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, the Justice Initiative promotes human rights and builds legal capacity for open societies. We foster accountability for international crimes, combat racial discrimination and statelessness, support criminal justice reform, address abuses related to national security and counterterrorism, expand freedom of information and expression, and stem corruption linked to the exploitation of natural resources. Our staff are based in Abuja, Amsterdam, Bishkek, Brussels, Budapest, The Hague, London, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Santo Domingo, and Washington, D.C.

Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to criticism, whose laws and policies are open to debate and correction, and whose political institutions are open to the participation of all people. We seek to strengthen justice and the rule of law; broaden respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities; encourage pluralism and a robust diversity of opinion; deepen democratic practice and participation; expand economic equity; support effective governance; and invest in individuals, public and private organizations, and social movements that advance these goals.

We are a global network of foundations committed to local knowledge and national expertise. Our network includes national foundations, regional foundations, and other geographic programs operating in more than one hundred countries. At the same time, many programs with global reach operate from our four headquarters in Europe and the United States, including programs on digital information, documentary photography, drug policy, early childhood, education, fellowships, fiscal governance, higher education, human rights, international migration, justice, public health, scholarships, think tanks, and women’s rights. In addition to making grants to organizations and individuals, the Open Society Foundations engage in policy advocacy, legal advocacy and litigation, program-related investing, and public communications, as well as providing direct assistance to governments. Most programs and foundations in the network are governed or advised by their own boards.

The Open Society Foundations are the global philanthropies of George Soros, who, as chairman, plays an active role in the work of the foundations. 

Job Profile

The objective of the internship program with the Open Society Justice Initiative is to train participants on some of the methodologies used by public interest advocacy groups like Open Society to foster and encourage reform, inclusion, human rights, and the building of legal capacity for open societies.

Interns will be instructed, and receive hands-on training, on many of the broad range of activities involved in effectuating reform, human rights, and the building of legal capacity for open societies, including but not limited to, the identification of an injustice to be remedied, the formulation of a comprehensive action plan, and the research and writing involved in research memoranda, reports, and studies associated with a project. The interns will receive their training in the context of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

With close supervision by an assigned mentor, interns will learn about the various tools available for researching issues, for engaging in oral and written persuasive techniques, and for drafting reports and legal memoranda related to human rights related initiatives, like the Open Society Justice Initiative. They will acquire knowledge and read about issues related to anticorruption, national criminal justice reform (specifically pretrial detention, access to justice, and safety, security, and accountability), legal capacity development, freedom of expression and information, equality and citizenship, national security and/or international justice. They will receive hands-on writing experience by, among other things, assisting in drafting both legal and non-legal memoranda and drafting reports.

They will receive research and analysis experience by assisting in researching assigned topics through the Internet, Lexis/Nexis, foreign source materials, academic studies, oral interviews of experts, Library of Congress materials, and legal and political documents, and by analyzing related topic material. Interns also will receive real-time training on the dialogues and other communications that are required in human interest initiatives like the Justice Initiative by, among other things, assisting in drafting of related correspondence, print material and website content, participating in conference calls, and attending relevant meetings hosted by think tanks and government and nongovernment agencies.

Available positions: New York (4 slots) and Washington, D.C. (2 slots)

Hours required: Up to 20 hours per week


For this internship program, Open Society seeks individuals currently enrolled in a relevant law school program who are highly motivated and have demonstrated excellence in prior endeavors. The ideal candidates will have strong communication, interpersonal and computer skills, a demonstrated ability to write effectively and analyze and summarize complex information, and a desire to function in a team environment. They also must be able to multi-task while remaining attentive to detail.

Work Environment and Physical Demands

Essential functions are typically performed in an office setting with a low level of noise. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Unpaid, lunch provided.
Application Instructions

Please send a cover letter and resume by August 1, 2014, to

If applying to New York: Include the internship code in subject line: LRI/OSJI

If applying to DC: Include the internship code in subject line: LRI-OSJI-DC