Staff Attorney [CJ-06], Trone Center for Justice and Equality / Racial Justice Program, New York City

National Offices, New York, NY
New York
September 5, 2017

Career Opportunity

Staff Attorney [CJ-06]

American Civil Liberties Union

Trone Center for Justice and Equality / Racial Justice Program, New York City

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, 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 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 American Civil Liberties Union is seeking a full-time Staff Attorney, who will be housed within Trone Center for Justice and Equality (Trone Center) and have primary responsibility for work with the Racial Justice Program. The position is based in New York City and will focus on developing and executing litigation related to the various issues addressed in the Trone Center, including but not limited to debtor’s prison litigation and indigent defense litigation. The Staff Attorney will work with colleagues from the Trone Center and will report to the Director of the Trone Center.


The Trone Center is comprised of four Projects/Programs; the Capital Punishment Project (CPP), the National Prison Project (NPP), the Racial Justice Program (RJP), and the Criminal Law Reform Project (CLRP). These projects allow us to focus our work on the critical aspects of the system that must be challenged and changed to achieve true “criminal justice.” In addition, the Trone Center works closely with the ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign which pursues the goal of reducing the prison population by 50 percent. All four Projects/Programs rely on strategic litigation, advocacy, public education, and communications to advance their goals. They also conduct lawyer trainings, participate in public education conferences, and provide expert advice and technical assistance to activists and lawyers throughout the country. They work with state affiliates to advance their criminal justice agendas. For more information on the Trone Center for Justice and Equality, please visit

The Trone Center also works closely with the Campaign for Smart Justice (CSJ), which is committed to a 50 percent reduction in the nation’s jail and prison populations and to challenging racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The CSJ seeks to reform the nation’s system of mass incarceration that severely limits the ability of people, disproportionately people of color, to participate in the social, political, and economic life of this country.


  • Litigate in state and federal courts, including appellate courts, throughout the country, including researching and drafting pleadings and briefs, engaging in discovery and motion practice, and conducting evidentiary hearings and oral arguments.
  • Analyze legislation and investigate factual/legal circumstances for potential litigation and/or advocacy work.
  • Develop strategies to advance the Trone Center for Justice priorities and monitor the strategies of our adversaries.
  • Develop new cases and non-litigation advocacy projects.
  • Serve as a resource for ACLU legislative and policy work and advancing ACLU policy goals through public education, organizing and participating in coalitions.
  • Provide technical assistance and expert legal advice to local ACLU affiliates, cooperating attorneys, and others who seek assistance from the Campaign for Smart Justice or the Trone Center for Justice.
  • Engage in public speaking and articulating ACLU views to a variety of audiences.
  • Supervise legal fellows, graduate students, paralegals and interns.
  • Collaborate with staff across the organization, including in other projects within the ACLU’s Legal Department, Communications, Affiliate Support and Advocacy, the Washington Legislative Office and state affiliates.
  • 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.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • J.D. degree and a minimum of five years of litigation experience, preferably in federal court, including experience as lead counsel. Responsibilities will be commensurate with experience and demonstrated skill level.
  • Appropriate bar membership permitting practice in New York or Washington, D.C.
  • Familiarity with criminal justice issues preferred.
  • Excellent research, writing and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work independently as well as within a team. 
  • Demonstrated ability to perform complex legal analytical work.
  • Excellent communication skills, both writing and verbal.
  • Self-motivated, diligent, and able to meet strict deadlines while under pressure.
  • Willingness to travel.
  • A demonstrated commitment to civil liberties, racial justice, and public interest law.


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, current resume, the names and contact information of three references, and at least one legal writing sample by email to: Reference [CJ-06/ACLU-W] 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 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.

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.orgCorrespondence 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.”

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