Environmental Justice Fellow
Natural Resources Defense Council
 Chicago, IL


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is the nation's most effective environmental action organization. We use law, science and the support of 3.1 million members and online activists to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things. NRDC was founded in 1970 and our staff helped write some of America's bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, and many of the implementing regulations; our water enforcement cases played a major role shaping current water policy throughout the country. Today, our staff of more than 500 lawyers, scientists, economists, policy and communications experts, and others, work out of offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing.

Position Summary:

The Environmental Justice Legal Fellowship is a one-year, time-limited position that may involve using a range of legal, policy, science, administrative advocacy, coalition-building, community outreach, and/or communications tools to work in collaboration with and provide support for environmental justice communities. The work will be focused on addressing disproportionate pollution burdens placed on low-income communities and communities of color. Examples of specific projects and areas of focus could include, but are not limited to, (1) improving air quality and public health outcomes for communities impacted by diesel pollution from the freight industry; (2) eliminating a rampant mold problem in the country's largest public housing program; (3) advancing local land use and zoning policies that combat the concentration of environmental burdens in EJ communities; and/or (4) leveraging legal support, funding and other resources to communities struggling with flooding, sewage and drinking water issues due to failing water infrastructure. .

NRDC seeks applicants to pursue external fellowship funding to support a one-year position on the Environmental Justice team beginning in Fall 2020. NRDC will work with successful candidates to complete any paperwork necessary to help secure available funding. Preference will be given to candidates applying for fellowship funding that allows their work to be flexible and responsive to the needs of environmental justice partners. The fellowship could be based in Santa Monica, Chicago, or New York. The fellowship is open to candidates who are eligible for postgraduate funding and will have their J.D. by the time the fellowship begins.


Successful candidates will demonstrate a strong commitment to environmental justice and the ability to contribute effectively as a member of a team. Specific responsibilities will include:

  • Developing relationships with communities and working with them to identify opportunities to partner or collaborate, and engaging actively in existing coalitions and partnerships;
  • Under supervision, screening and developing potential new litigation, including conducting factual investigations and legal and policy research;
  • Providing legal, policy, and/or scientific research and strategic advice around environmental justice issues;
  • Collaborating as part of a team of attorneys, policy advocates, and scientists to support NRDC's environmental justice goals;
  • Under supervision, representing NRDC at hearings, conferences, coalition meetings, and venues with decisionmakers, including some nights and weekends;
  • Advocating for the adoption or passage of critical legislation, city ordinances, and government regulations;
  • Supervising and delegating projects to interns and volunteers, when appropriate; and
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Law school graduate
  • Exceptional writing, research, and analytical skills
  • Strong oral communication skills
  • Experience effectively working on a team
  • Creativity and resourcefulness
  • Demonstrated commitment to public service, equity, social justice, and/or environmental justice
  • Demonstrated ability to work with people across different social identities and backgrounds
  • Record of academic and/or professional accomplishment
  • Knowledge of environmental, civil rights, and administrative laws is a plus
  • Proficiency in a second language is desirable
  • Candidates with dual degrees in science or policy are encouraged to apply

Candidates must be committed to environmental justice and/or social justice work, principles, and values, and must be excited to work alongside NRDC's coalition partners and understand NRDC's role within these coalitions. Experience working with coalitions of community members and community-based organizations is a plus.

NRDC is committed to workplace diversity and inclusion. We are equal opportunity employers and do not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity and expression, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law. We offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a pleasant working environment. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and commensurate with experience. Consistent with the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

To apply, please visit www.nrdc.org/careers and upload your resume, cover letter, writing sample, and references through our online portal. Please identify in your cover letter the source(s) of fellowship funding you would like to apply for. Please also indicate which office you would prefer to be based in. We would like you to upload any additional papers or project work that you think would showcase your abilities. Due to the high volume of resumes, only qualified candidates will be contacted. Please no phone calls, emails, faxes or in-person resume drop-offs. Please reference where you saw this posting. NRDC is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, so we encourage applicants to apply as soon as possible. The application deadline is November 15.

If you are having technical difficulty while applying, please reach out to iCIMS Customer Care by dialing 1-800-889-4422.

For further information about NRDC, please visit www.nrdc.org