For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Whether it’s ending mass incarceration, achieving full equality for the LGBT community, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than a million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or national origin.
The National Security Project of the ACLU’s National office in New York City seeks applications for a full-time Staff Attorney position. The position is funded for two years. The Staff Attorney’s primary focus will initially be on national security issues but the Staff Attorney may be called upon to work on other ACLU issues as needs arise.
The National Security Project is part of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, which works to strengthen democratic institutions and values, including the values of government transparency and accountability, and to reinforce the United States’ commitment to human rights and the rule of law. The Center for Democracy includes, in addition to the National Security Project, the Human Rights Program, the Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology, the Immigrants’ Rights Project, and the Voting Rights Project.
The National Security Project is dedicated to ensuring that U.S. national security policies and practices are consistent with the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights. The Project seeks to ensure that our nation’s core democratic values are the foundation of its strength and security, and that our government’s response to national security concerns comport with those values. Through litigation and advocacy strategies, the National Security Project responds to specific government measures, and strives also to educate the public and shape the law so that the courts, Congress, and citizenry can serve as an enduring check against abuse.
The National Security Project’s litigation and advocacy focuses on issues including: government surveillance, targeted killing, unlawful detention, accountability for torture, discrimination, censorship, and secrecy.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Staff Attorney will work in New York City. The position is funded for two years. The Staff Attorney will initially work on significant constitutional and statutory litigation and policy advocacy on a range of national security matters, and may be called upon to work on other ACLU issues as needs arise. The Staff Attorney will report to the Director of the National Security Project and will possess the ability to contribute to all aspects of the Project’s litigation and non-litigation work, including but not limited to:
- Litigate and manage national security and civil liberties cases in the trial and appellate courts through legal and factual research, writing pleadings and briefs, and working with clients and witnesses.
- Develop new cases and non-litigation advocacy projects.
- Serve as a resource for ACLU legislative and policy staff at the federal and state level, and advancing ACLU policy goals through public education and organizing and participating in coalitions.
- Develop and write advocacy materials for expert and lay audiences.
- Engage in public speaking, including to the media and at conferences for expert and lay audiences.
- Work in collaboration with other members of the National Security Project, and other ACLU legal and non-legal staff, particularly legislative, communications and advocacy staff.
- Supervise legal fellows, law students, paralegals, legal administrative assistants, and interns.
- Demonstrate a commitment to diversity within the office using a personal approach that values all individuals and respects differences in regards to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance.
- Commitment to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts.
Experience and Qualifications
- A J.D. degree is required, and membership in the New York State Bar is preferred. If the candidate is not already admitted to practice in New York, admission to the New York Bar is required within one year of hire.
- 2-3 years of litigation experience is required.
- Experience litigating constitutional and statutory matters involving national security and civil liberties issues in federal court is preferred; a commitment to these issues is essential.
- Demonstrated commitment to public interest generally and civil liberties in particular.
- Demonstrably excellent legal research, writing, verbal communication, and community outreach skills.
- Ability to engage in complex legal analysis and fact investigation in impact litigation, policy, and legislative advocacy settings, sometimes under tight deadlines.
- Proven project management and organizational skills, including the ability to work independently, pay attention to detail, and meet deadlines while under pressure.
- Ability to foster and contribute to a collaborative team environment is essential.
- Prior supervisory experience is preferred.
The ACLU offers a generous and comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU compensation scale.
How to Apply
Please send a cover letter explaining your interest in the National Security Project’s work and your qualifications for that work; a resume; two references; and, two writing samples unedited by others, at least one of which should be a legal research memo, brief, or article. Applicants who graduated from law school within the last six years should include their law school transcript.
Please send materials to hrjobsNSP@aclu.org and reference [NSP-12] in the subject line. Please note that this is not the general ACLU applicant email address. This email address is specific to National Security Project postings. In order to ensure your application is received, please make certain it is sent to the correct e-mail address. You can expect to receive an automatic response that acknowledges the submission of application materials.
Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this career opportunity.
Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
This job description provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications required. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU reserves the right to change the description and/or posting at any time without advance notice.
The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status and record of arrest or conviction.
The ACLU undertakes affirmative action strategies in its recruitment and employment efforts to assure that persons with disabilities have full opportunities for employment in all positions.
We encourage applicants with disabilities who may need accommodations in the application process to contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Correspondence sent to this email address that is not related to requests for accommodations will not be reviewed. Applicants should follow the instructions above regarding how to apply.
The ACLU comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation are national organizations with the same overall mission, and share office space and employees. The ACLU has two separate corporate entities in order to do a broad range of work to protect civil liberties. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU.”