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by Adam Silver
Few organizations can match the NAACP when it comes to translating abstract principles into tangible, legal action. From the abolition of grandfather clauses to the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the NAACP has played a crucial role in cases that have reshaped American culture, as well as the nation's laws.
Recently, the country celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The legendary case found segregated schooling to be unconstitutional and served as one of the key Supreme Court rulings of the 20th Century. The landmark case was won on the strength of NAACP attorneys. The legendary Charles Hamilton Houston, one-time Dean of Howard University Law School, was the first Special Counsel of the organization, and he was succeeded by the man who argued Brown in the Supreme Court, future Justice Thurgood Marshall. Marshall went on to create the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., which formed its own identity in 1957. The LDF has offices in New York, Washington and Los Angeles; and was instrumental in the legal reforms of the 1960s.
Today, the NAACP continues to pursue important issues that define society. The organization offers a variety of programs for attorneys. In the spirit of Brown, there is a strong education program. While schools were supposed to be desegregated 50 years ago, problems persist. In addition, there are issues such as affirmative action and various discrepancies in equality across the nation. Although the education program is the most visible, the NAACP offers many other options: criminal justice, environmental justice, fair housing, and redistricting and voting.
Employment at the NAACP offers attorneys the opportunity to work for an organization that is continually shaping the landscape of American law. Sadly, civil rights will always be a pressing concern and there will always be matters of inequality that need to be addressed. Lawyers for the NAACP have the ability to create a broad network both within their own ranks and among the many attorneys that handle litigation issues the NAACP plays a significant role in.
The NAACP has more members than most cities have people. The considerable strength of the organization is reflected in the amount of cases it is involved in at the high courts. While it doesn't provide the economic boon of big firms, it affords great experience, the chance to meet many dedicated professionals and the ability to do work with far reaching consequences.
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