Fellowship: Racial Justice/Civil Rights Law and Policy


Butler Koshland Fellowships is seeking an emerging leader to serve as a fellow to Eva Paterson, President and Co-Founder of Equal Justice Society.

About Butler Koshland Fellowships

Butler Koshland Fellowships is a unique program designed to pass on public service leadership skills and legacies. Our model is simple and personal—we ask extraordinary leaders to mentor an emerging leader. Each mentor and fellow pair work closely together on a project for one year, during which time we fund the fellow’s salary. The fellow is also integrated into and supported by a community of Butler Koshland fellows and mentors—past, current, and future—doing important work for the common good. To learn more about us, please visit http://www.bkfellowships.org.

Fellowship Description

Beginning in late May/early June 2014, the fellow will work under the direction and guidance of Eva Paterson as a Butler Koshland Fellow. In this role, the fellow will support the executive-level goals of EJS. The fellow will experience the array of duties and responsibilities required to successfully lead a nonprofit civil rights organization in today’s world. This is an exceptional opportunity for someone to participate at the management level of a major nonprofit organization during an especially exciting period of expansion and possibility.

Representative projects and learning opportunities may include:

Legal research, writing, and analysis: The overarching strategy of EJS is modeled on the civil rights work of those who challenged the legal doctrine of “separate but equal” embodied in Plessy v. Ferguson. These brilliant attorneys and law students, led by Charles Hamilton Houston, used a long-term legal strategy that was informed by social science. Their work resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court decision to end American apartheid in the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education.

In this same spirit, the legal work of EJS is aimed at dismantling the Intent Doctrine (which requires proof of intentional discrimination for a constitutional race discrimination claim)—as has been articulated in cases such as Washington v. Davis and McCleskey v. Kemp. EJS is committed to furthering this kind of social science-based legal work—especially since emerging studies have demonstrated that much racially-biased behavior is motivated by beliefs formed in our unconscious and is not the result of intentional malice.

To this end, EJS partners with leading social scientists from around the country to develop arguments to be incorporated into legal briefs and even legal opinions. In support of these efforts, the fellow will be a full member of our Legal Team, in a position similar to that of Staff Attorney, and will work with Eva Paterson and EJS’ Legal Director, Allison Elgart, to develop legal strategies and arguments, and conduct legal research, writing, and analysis. The fellow will also be actively involved in a litigation project on school discipline.

Outreach: EJS is actively building a broad-based national coalition—one empowered to creatively and effectively address unconscious bias. In April 2012, lawyers, academics and community activists met at Northwestern University’s School of Law in Chicago to learn about how implicit bias impacts a whole range of decisions in the areas of health, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system. At the conference, experts in the emerging field of Mind Science briefed the attendees on how the brain plays tricks on our conscious self, propelling us to take actions that we might later repudiate.

For example, unconscious biases may affect whether police officers decide to shoot or not shoot a suspect, whether employers decide to hire a job applicant, or whether to give appropriate emergency medical interventions. A key part of EJS’ strategy to support its coalition-building work will be to hold a second interdisciplinary convening on unconscious bias.

This “Mind Science Conference” will take place in the Bay Area in 2014 and its conception and execution will be a large part of the fellow’s duties while at EJS. This project represents a special opportunity for both the fellow and EJS to inspire and be inspired by the best thinkers in this field. Additionally, the findings from this conference will be distributed widely, thus increasing its potential to inspire change. The ultimate success of this project depends in part upon the fellow’s capacity to conceptualize through multiple layers and lenses—creative, intellectual, logistical.

Development: In order to continue its important work, EJS must be enthusiastically engaged with individual, foundation, and corporate donors. Under the guidance of Eva Paterson and EJS’ Development Team, the fellow will support select fundraising efforts by assisting with: researching opportunities, preparing pitches, and helping to complete reporting requirements.


Candidates should have: at least 3 years of related work experience; a demonstrated commitment to public service; and be licensed to practice law in the United States (via a license from any state, not necessarily California).

Because the duties of the fellow involve strong communication and analytical skills, this position requires someone with a diverse set of abilities and personality traits, including: intellectual agility, friendliness, ability to interface with diplomacy and congeniality while facing multiple deadlines, excellent writing abilities, good presentation and verbal communication skills, ability to maintain calm in public settings, acumen for research, sense of humor, and cultural sensitivity. Applicants also must be adept at organizing both their own work and the work of others, have practical experience in making things happen, and know when to be appropriately discreet with confidential information.

To Apply

The application deadline is May 1, 2014. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with final candidates selected in early May for interviews to be held in mid-May. To apply please submit a cover letter and resume addressing your qualifications and interest in this fellowship along with a legal writing sample of any length. We encourage applicants to also include relevant, short samples of their previous work—written reports, links to web-based publications, podcasts, ad copy, pitch letters, press releases, videos, and any other materials demonstrating communication skills are welcome.

Please send all application materials via email to the attention of Butler Koshland Fellowships’ Executive Director, Kate Brumage, at apply@bkfellowships.org with the subject line “Paterson Fellowship.” Only those chosen to interview will be contacted. Please do not contact Eva Paterson or Equal Justice Society directly.

The fellow will work from the Oakland office of Equal Justice Society. The fellow’s compensation will be $48,000 per year plus employer-provided health and other benefits. The fellow will work a standard 35-hour work-week and should be available to travel and attend evening programs as needed.

Butler Koshland Fellowships is strengthened by the diversity of its participants. We encourage all qualified applicants to apply.


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