Externship on Advancing Social and Environmental Justice in the New York Attorney General's Office
Monica Wagner and Lisa Landau (pending faculty approval), Lecturers-in-Law (2 graded academic and 3 ungraded clinical credits)
As attorneys for the People of the State of New York, assistant attorneys general (AAGs) in the Social and Economic Justice Divisions of the Office of the New York State Attorney General investigate and litigate violations of a wide range of public interest laws, including civil rights, environmental and health care laws. This externship is comprised of a weekly, two‐hour seminar and fifteen hours per week of fieldwork (five of which may be conducted off site) in one of seven affirmative bureaus: Civil Rights, Environmental Protection, Consumer Frauds & Protection, Charities, Labor, Tobacco Compliance, and Health Care. The goal of the seminar and fieldwork (students will be assigned to one of the bureaus for the fieldwork component) is to teach students about the authority and work of state attorneys general while giving them hands-on experience in public interest investigation and litigation. Students will work alongside the AAGs in the bureaus, working on ongoing investigations and cases, while in the seminar students explore how a case is built and engage in simulations of what AAGs do, including a deposition of a carwash operator suspected of not complying with labor laws, oral argument on whether a cigarette advertisement is targeted to juveniles, and preparation of an expert hydrogeologist to testify about hazardous waste. Students also prepare short reflection papers on their fieldwork, using them as a platform to discuss concerns that new lawyers face, such as time management, conflicting assignments, and communications with supervisors. The seminar will be graded on weekly class participation, class presentations and simulations, periodic short reflection papers on readings and fieldwork, and a final paper about the student’s fieldwork. The course will be limited to ten students to facilitate active engagement and discussion.
The six bureaus in the Social Justice Division are (more detail is available at www.ag.ny.gov):
- The Civil Rights Bureau enforces laws protecting New Yorkers from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, source of income or disability. The Bureau investigates and prosecutes alleged patterns of unlawful discrimination in a variety of areas. The Bureau also engages in community outreach activities to educate the public about civil rights issues.
- The Environmental Protection Bureau plays a central role in protecting New York's environment and public health, enforcing a zero tolerance policy against environmental threats in New York that imperil air, water, and land. The Bureau vigorously enforces both state and federal environmental laws, and is a national leader in the fight to reverse climate change. It also represents the state in legal matters related to the environment.
- The Labor Bureau has been nationally recognized for defending labor standards in low-wage industries by aggressively enforcing the laws protecting low-wage workers, often through collaborations with community-based organizations, labor unions, and others. The Labor Bureau investigates violations of minimum wage, overtime, prevailing wage, and other critical labor laws, and brings civil and criminal prosecutions against employers who are found in violation.
- The Tobacco Compliance Bureau is responsible for enforcing and monitoring compliance with the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement ("MSA") between major tobacco companies and Attorneys General from 52 states and jurisdictions. Enforcement focuses on guaranteeing that the tobacco companies are not violating the MSA’s prohibitions regarding advertising and/or marketing as well as ensuring compliance with the tobacco companies' monetary obligations under it and New York's related laws. In addition, the Bureau is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of state and federal laws and policies relating to cigarettes.
- The Health Care Bureau safeguards the rights of health care consumers statewide through investigation of and enforcement actions against insurers, providers, drug companies and other individuals and entities that engage in fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or illegal practices in the health care market. The Bureau provides information and assistance to thousands of New Yorkers annually, including resolution of individual consumer health-related complaints. The Health Care Bureau also educates New Yorkers about the rights and protections they have available to them under health and consumer protection laws. In addition, the Bureau advocates for legislation and policy initiatives.
- The Charities Bureau is responsible for supervising charitable organizations to protect donors and beneficiaries of those charities from unscrupulous practices in the solicitation and management of charitable assets. The Bureau also supervises the activity of foundations and other charities to ensure that their funds and other property devoted to charitable purposes are properly used, and protects the public interest in charitable gifts and bequests contained in wills and trust agreements.
Please submit your application for this externship online. To apply, please copy and paste the link below into your web browser; you will be taken directly to the OAG's online application system:
Please be prepared to submit the following (1) a cover letter (include OAG Ref. No. VLS_CSJX_FALL_NYC_2015) describing your background and stating why you are interested in taking the externship and your preferred bureau placement(s),(2) a resume, (3) transcript, and (4) writing sample. Please note that acceptance into the program is conditioned upon the successful completion of the OAG’s approval process which includes an interview, followed by completion of an OAGemployment application, confidentiality agreement, and emergency contact form, and a successful conflicts check. Please note that class attendance is mandatory and expected.
For assistance with submitting your application, please contact the OAG's Legal Recruitment Bureau via email at [email protected] or phone at 212-416-8080.