The Racial Justice Program (RJP) of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation seeks applicants for a full-time Staff Attorney position at its headquarters in New York, NY. This position will focus on building litigation to combat the criminalization of poor and low-income people of color through court fines and fees.
RJP is part of the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality, which works to combat racial discrimination; to ensure that our criminal justice system is effective, fair, and free of racial bias; to advocate for humane and constitutional conditions of confinement; and to abolish the death penalty as a legitimate form of punishment. The Trone Center for Justice and Equality also includes the Criminal Law Reform Project, Capital Punishment Project, and the National Prison Project.
RJP is dedicated to the advancement of a country in which people of color have full access to the benefits of American society and live with dignity, opportunity, and freedom from discrimination. Through litigation in federal and state courts, advocacy, grassroots mobilization, and public education, RJP fights white supremacy and racial bias and seeks to dismantle barriers to equality for people of color in education, housing, the economy, and the criminal legal system. RJP challenges the school-to-prison pipeline, attacks on educational diversity and inclusion programs, discrimination in housing and lending, racial profiling, practices that criminalize poor and low-income people of color, and the violation of the rights of Native Americans.
The Staff Attorney will be a core member of a collaborative, dedicated team working to advance RJP’s campaign against the criminalization of poor and low-income people of color. RJP uses litigation in federal and state courts, advocacy with legislatures and court leaders, and public education to challenge policies and practices that criminalize poor people of color who cannot afford to pay monetary penalties imposed by courts, including debtors’ prisons, for-profit probation abuses, and wealth-based driver’s license suspensions. RJP has advanced systemic reforms against such practices in Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington. RJP has also secured national standards and guidelines guarding against the disproportionate punishment of poor and low-income people who cannot pay court fines and fees. The Staff Attorney will work with RJP staff to develop new and innovative litigation and advocacy to advance RJP’s campaign against court fines and fee practices that criminalize poor and low-income people of color.
Primary job responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:
Litigate constitutional cases in federal and state courts and at trial and appellate levels to challenge policies and practices that criminalize poor and low-income people of color unable to pay court fines and fees.
Draft legal memoranda, pleadings, affidavits, motions, and briefs.
Participate in discovery and trial practice.
Develop new cases and identify and work with potential plaintiffs and expert and fact witnesses.
Analyze legislation to assist advocacy staff in lobbying efforts and to identify potential litigation.
Develop collaborative partnerships with other advocates, community groups, and other partners.
Engage in public speaking, including to the media, at conferences and other speaking engagements.
Supervise and mentor more junior members of the program staff.
Draft and edit public education and non-litigation advocacy materials.
Provide support and assistance to ACLU affiliates and cooperating attorneys.
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.
J.D. degree and at least five (5) years of legal experience, including experience drafting complaints and briefs and taking depositions. Individuals with significantly more experience are strongly encouraged to apply. Those with ten or more years of experience will have the title Senior Staff Attorney.
If not currently admitted to the New York Bar, candidate must be admitted to the bar of another state and agree to become admitted to the New York Bar within one year of hire.
Demonstrated commitment to racial justice.
Commitment to the mission and goals of the ACLU.
Excellent legal analytical and research skills.
Demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding.
Demonstrated ability to write and speak clearly and persuasively.
Self-motivated, diligent, and able to meet strict deadlines while under pressure.
Ability to work with a wide range of people and foster a team environment, working collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and conflicts.
About American Civil Liberties Union
For nearly 100 years, the American Civil Liberties Union (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, preserving the right to vote, the right to have an abortion, the rights protected by the First Amendment and due process of law, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. The ACLU is a nationwide organization the 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, economic status, national origin, immigration status, incarceration or record of arrest or conviction. We are nonprofit and nonpartisan and have grown from a roomful of civil liberties activists to an organization of more than 1.6 million members and supporters.