Monday, December 5, 2011

Litigation Fellow at The Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, the Foundations seek to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, the Open Society Foundations implement a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, we build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. The Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.
Investor and philanthropist George Soros established the Open Society Foundations, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. Our activities have grown to encompass theUnited Statesand more than 70 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa andLatin America. Each Foundation relies on the expertise of boards composed of eminent citizens who determine individual agendas based on local priorities.
The Open Society Justice Initiative seeks to recruit a deferred junior lawyer as a Litigation Fellow for a 12 month placement beginning in August 2012. Such a placement provides a unique opportunity for a junior lawyer to acquire direct experience in strategic human rights litigation at a global level, preparing cases in all the regional human rights tribunals on a wide variety of legal issues.
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, Freetown, The Hague, London, Mexico City, New York, Paris, Phnom Penh, Santo Domingo and Washington, D.C.
The Open Society Justice Initiative engages in strategic litigation in national, regional and international courts and tribunals across a broad range of human rights issues, combining legal cases with other program activities as a method to effect social change.
The Justice Initiative pursues cases in the broader public interest that will make an impact beyond the individual victim. Legal cases are selected that can set an important precedent to leverage policy and create reform. Such cases are much more than a legal argument. The Justice Initiative undertakes a wide range of activities including research into human rights problems, working with governments to reform policies that cause human rights violations, advocating with decision-makers for change and building the capacity of civil society to respond to violations.
The Justice Initiative litigates in many different areas of law, covering discrimination, freedom of information, citizenship, freedom of expression, national criminal justice, deaths in custody and torture, international criminal justice, corruption and counter-terrorist policies and develops arguments that cut across the usual legal categories. Working in Africa, Latin America, Europe, andAsiathe Justice Initiative is able to replicate successes across continents, using decisions from one tribunal to argue a case in front of another.
This position is designed to allow for junior lawyers on sabbatical from a law firm or with fellowship funding to work with a public interest organization for a period of 12 months for which they will be reimbursed by the law firm or fellowship funder.
Global Litigation
The Litigation Fellow will support the human rights litigation of the Justice Initiative, becoming involved in specific cases and assisting in the development of new areas of litigation. Under the supervision of the Litigation Director, the Litigation Fellow will assist programs with legal work in multiple fields. Litigation Fellows have worked on the following projects, amongst others.
The Global Campaign
At any one time there are 10 million people in pre-trial detention around the world. The Justice Initiative challenges this practice through a global campaign that is designed to pilot models for pre-trial justice reform, develop tools for replication of those models, develop an advocacy campaign as well as a network of activists involved in the issue. At the same time we use litigation in order to develop strategic cases in Africa to define the legal boundaries for pre-trial detention on a continental basis. A Justice Initiative Litigation Fellow has worked with a legal clinic and our Justice Initiative team to develop a challenge to the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice to excessive pre-trial detention in Nigeria.
Torture in Central Asia
The Justice Initiative is involved in bringing cases to the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture alleging torture and deaths in custody from countries inCentral Asia. Justice Initiative Litigation Fellows have been involved in preparing cases for filing and are acting as co-counsel in specific applications.
The Justice Initiative program on legal remedies for corruption has developed four case models that are being used to challenge impunity for natural resources corruption onAfrica. These include actions against Heads of State for unjust enrichment inSpainandFrance, proceedings before the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights for spoliation of natural resources and further challenges that are being developed in the field of international criminal law. A Justice Initiative Litigation Fellow has assisted in drafting a criminal complaint to a national prosecution authority alleging an offence of pillage by a company director.
Health and Human Rights in Detention
This project seeks to highlight and challenge poor health conditions in pre-trial detention, the use of such conditions to elicit confessions, the use of administrative detention against those who use drugs and quarantine detention of those with communicable diseases. Working the with Law and Health Initiative the project will build from an existing litigation project from Central Asia in order to identify cases to litigate to international tribunals. A Justice Initiative Litigation Fellow has assisted to develop litigation in Kenya and the Ukraine on this issue.
Racial Profiling
This project of the Justice Initiative highlights the use of racial profiling by police in a number of different countries as a crime prevention strategy. Studies have identified the extent of the problem and the ineffectiveness of such a tool. The Justice Initiative seeks to develop a number of cases inEuropewhich can ensure that this technique is considered by international courts. The Litigation Fellow will undertake the legal analysis of previous challenges to such practices, particularly in the United States and design a plan in order to build an NGO coalition that will be able to support litigation. Case selection criteria will be designed and applied in order to find the most appropriate case for litigation. A Justice Initiative Litigation Fellow has assisted in preparing a challenge to racial profiling in France.
National Security - Rendition
This new program of the Justice Initiative will seek to challenge a number of legal problems that have arisen in specific regional areas, including the use of renditions in East Africa and Eastern Europe, the use of administrative detention in Western Europe, East Africa and the Maghreb, the use of watch lists in different European countries and attacks on freedom of expression and assembly in multiple countries. A Justice Initiative Litigation Fellow assisted in drafting the application to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of El-Masri v Macedonia.
Purpose of Position: Acquire direct experience in strategic human rights litigation at a global level, preparing cases in all the regional human rights tribunals on a wide variety of legal issues. Work is carried out independently/under general supervision.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities include the following. OSI may add, change, or remove essential and other duties at any time.
  • Undertake research and prepare ‘mapping’ memos on new litigation opportunities, including preparing country studies, analyzing political and economic developments, conducting surveys of civil society and international organization activities;
  • Write legal memos on topics in preparation for litigation;
  • Liaise with law clinics, pro-bono attorneys and consultants;
  • Assist with the preparation of legal drafts, direct drafting and fact checking and cite checking;
  • Collate authorities in support of litigation and prepare summaries;
  • Conduct all-source research via websites, Lexis/Nexis, foreign source materials, academic studies, oral interviews of experts, legal and political documents, Library of Congress materials, etc;
  • Attend scheduled staff conference calls and relevant meetings hosted by think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, government briefings, etc;
  • Assist with the development of web-site and advocacy materials as needed;
  • Assist with the development of internal continuing legal education materials;
  • Perform other duties as assigned.
Education/Experience: Law Degree and minimum of one year of relevant experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Study of human rights law at post-graduate level.
Skills Required:
  • Proven ability to work efficiently in a fast-paced environment; to troubleshoot and follow projects through to completion, consistently on schedule, without loss of attention to detail and budget;
  • Excellent written, verbal, organizational, analytical and interpersonal skills;
  • Excellent computer skills, proficient in Microsoft Office and experience with internet research;
  • Excellent listening and communication skills with sensitivity to cultural communication differences;
  • Show discretion and ability to handle confidential issues;
  • High level of self-motivation and at ease working independently when necessary;
  • Poised, work well under pressure and attentive to detail;
  • Flexibility and willingness to work simultaneously on a wide range of tasks and projects and ability to prioritize tasks;
  • Pleasant, diplomatic manner and disposition in interacting with senior management, co-workers and the general public.
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.

Program Specific Requirements:
  • Very strong research, writing and analytic abilities;
  • Knowledge of French, Spanish, German or Italian a distinct advantage;
  • Advanced computer research, database management and word processing skills, including web searching and Lexis/Nexis.
Upon acceptance, the litigation fellow will need to provide a letter from their university/law firm indicating that they are receiving credit and/or funding for the fellowship.
Duration: One year, starting August 2012.
Compensation: Unpaid, lunch provided.
To Apply
Please email resume and cover letter before January 1, 2012, to: Include job code in subject line: LF-OSJI/A
Open Society Foundations
Human Resources – Code LF-OSJI/A
400 West 59th Street
New York, New York 10019
FAX: 646.557.2672
No phone calls, please. The Open Society Foundations is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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