Law Clerk Internship

PEN America’s Free Expression Programs department is seeking a motivated law clerk intern to support our U.S. Free Expression Programs for the summer of 2023. This internship will operate from either our offices in New York City or Washington, DC on a hybrid schedule during normal business hours. Applicants needing a fully virtual arrangement are also welcome to apply and should indicate this requirement in their application.

PEN America’s U.S. free expression programs (i) elevate and respond to significant and emerging threats to free expression in the United States and (ii) employ an array of research, policy, advocacy, and public engagement tools to broaden awareness and dialogue on these issues around the country at the local, state, and federal levels. Namely, we focus on defending press freedom where journalists are targeted for their work; we combat disinformation, which we know is eroding engagement in our democratic institutions; we support protest rights and the ability of dissenting voices to speak up; and we fight back against forms of censorship and online harassment which chill writers, artists, and others.


A law clerk will be given responsibilities that involve the following, but are not limited to:

U.S. Free Expression & Press Freedom

  • Conduct legal research and support for ongoing policy advocacy, legal reports, and emerging advocacy opportunities.
  • Conduct First Amendment legal research and writing, including drafting amicus briefs, policy advocacy letters, and legal memos.
  • Work closely and collaboratively with the director of the U.S. Free Expression Programs to monitor legislative proposals at the state level, including support through drafting rapid response statements, coordinating with local partners on the ground in key states, and drafting email actions for our subscribers and membership base
  • Support ongoing advocacy and campaigns related to press freedom, surveillance of journalists, protest rights, censorship of writers, disinformation, and online content moderation
  • Monitor legal issues and drafting blog posts on emerging First Amendment topics

This internship is open to law students who will have completed their first year of law school before the internship commences. Interns should possess the following:

  • Strong research, writing, and analytical skills (especially pertaining to analyzing complex legal issues)
  • Keen logistical eye for details and excellent organizational skills
  • Superb writing skills, including the ability to craft clear, user-friendly language
  • Strong familiarity with social media platforms
  • Knowledge of U.S. or global human rights and a commitment to free expression issues
  • Interest or experience in law, journalism, or tech industry valuable
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and conducting internet research
  • Fluency in Google Drive document management and suite of applications; social media fluency preferred
  • Knowledge of contemporary debates over free speech issues
  • The initiative to see projects through to completion

Desired Attributes:

  • Previous legal coursework on constitutional law, First Amendment, intellectual property, and/or human rights
  • Commitment to the principles of free expression
  • Meticulous attention to deadlines
  • Strong interpersonal skills and an aptitude for collaboration, creativity, and initiative
  • High energy and efficiency
  • Strong work ethic

Application Periods

Be sure to include the dates of your availability with your application.

Summer Internship: Please submit your application between February and May

To Apply:

Please email a cover letter (one-page maximum) and resume to [email protected]. Please specify in your cover letter which First Amendment or free expression issues you are most passionate about. 

PEN America does not discriminate in its selection practices, and in order to build the strongest possible team, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

No phone calls, please.

About PEN America:

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.