Legislative Counsel [NPAD-37], National Political Advocacy Department, DC

National Offices, Washington, DC
District of Columbia
May 16, 2018


Legislative Counsel [NPAD-37]

American Civil Liberties Union

Washington Legislative Office, DC

National Political Advocacy Department


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 is ending mass incarceration, achieving full equality for the LGBT community, advancing racial justice, 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 and civil rights cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than one 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, gender identity or expression, age, disability, national origin, or record of arrest or conviction.



During a time of unprecedented attacks on civil liberties, the Washington Legislative Office (WLO) of the National Political Advocacy Department (NPAD) seeks applicants for a Legislative Counsel to lead the ACLU’s federal policy advocacy on the First Amendment and consumer privacy.  The position is located in our Washington, D.C. office.

The Legislative Counsel will be a leading advocate on civil liberties and civil rights issues, in representing the ACLU before Congress and the Executive Branch on a portfolio of issues focused on the First Amendment and consumer privacy, including the intersection between those rights and other civil liberties and civil rights protections, as well as other issues as assigned.  The Legislative Counsel will be an energetic, thoughtful, and committed advocate, with the ability to act as a catalyst for change in a challenging political environment. 

The Legislative Counsel will be part of an interdisciplinary team, focused primarily on federal policy, but will also advise legal and policy staff of ACLU state affiliates on policy questions related to rights protected by the First Amendment.  The Legislative Counsel will report to a Deputy Director of WLO, and will work closely and collaboratively with colleagues within WLO and the larger NPAD, as well as with other departments, including the litigation teams within the Legal Department and state affiliates. 

Within a dynamic and challenging political environment, this is an ideal opportunity to work as part of a team to marshal ACLU resources, and lead a new movement to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law.



  • As both an advocate and a legal and policy expert on the First Amendment and consumer privacy, identify opportunities to advance civil liberties and civil rights through federal policy, as well as defeat proposed federal policy that would harm these rights—and then develop and carry out an advocacy plan to succeed.                 
  • Lobby members of Congress, Executive Branch officials, and their staff to advocate for ACLU positions on First Amendment or consumer privacy-related legislation and policy initiatives, and on other issues as assigned.
  • Prepare and deliver testimony and letters on pending legislation or issues before Congressional committees.
  • Research and draft analyses of federal bills and proposed administrative rules and regulations affecting First Amendment or privacy rights, and draft legislative or regulatory changes.
  • Plan and execute advocacy events such as in-depth congressional and Executive Branch staff briefings, advocacy days on Capitol Hill and rallies to further advocacy goals.
  • Provide legislative counseling, including legal analysis, strategic planning guidance, and tactical suggestions, to ACLU affiliates to support their state-based advocacy efforts on issues related to the First Amendment.
  • Lead, or participate as the ACLU representative in, First Amendment and privacy rights coalitions.
  • In collaboration with ACLU Communications staff, develop and maintain relationships with reporters and other media staff, brief national and local media on federal policy and related politics, draft explanatory and opinion pieces for publication, assist in promoting ACLU positions through social media.
  • Work collaboratively with other legislative and policy staff within WLO in taking a team approach to priority ACLU federal policy issues, which will include advocating on issues outside the First Amendment and consumer privacy portfolio.
  • In coordination with state advocacy and campaign staff in NPAD as well as colleagues in the Legal and Communications Departments working on similar issues, prioritize advocacy goals and develop and implement coordinated strategies to achieve key civil liberties objectives.
  • Represent the ACLU at national, state, and local forums, conferences, meetings, and public speaking opportunities.
  • 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, and record of arrest or conviction.
  • Work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts.



  • A law degree is required; this position does not include active litigation, but the ability to identify and develop possible litigation is required.
  •  A minimum of four years’ experience working in political, policy, legal, or government settings; familiarity with public policy and legislative processes is required. 
  • Substantive expertise on First Amendment and commercial privacy law and policy is strongly preferred, as is experience working with Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead others in advocating for change on complex legal and policy issues in a challenging political environment.
  • Exceptional ability to conduct legal analysis and research.
  • Experience with constitutional issues and experience working in conjunction with advocacy campaigns is preferred.
  • Ability to work independently as well as within a team.
  • Excellent interpersonal, relationship building, and communication skills.
  • Excellent research, writing, analytic, and communication skills.
  • Ability to communicate complex legal and policy issues to the general public.
  • Ability to simultaneously handle multiple tasks, work efficiently and quickly, and meet deadlines under pressure.
  • Strong and demonstrated commitment to civil liberties, civil rights, and social justice.
  • Commitment to the mission of the ACLU.



The ACLU offers a generous and comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU compensation scale.



Please send a cover letter (with salary requirements), resume, writing sample, and the names and contact information for three references to: hrjobsWLO@aclu.org.  Reference [NPAD-37] in the subject line.


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 Department of Education has determined that employment in this position at the ACLU does not qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

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, 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: hrjobsincl@aclu.org. Correspondence sent to this 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.”

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