The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (“ACLU-PA”) seeks a Staff Attorney. As an affiliate of the ACLU, the ACLU of Pennsylvania focuses its work on issues that directly impact people who live in, work in, or travel to/from Pennsylvania. We also work with the National ACLU on litigation and advocacy.
Our current work is organized around the following three priority areas: (1) reducing the number of people in prisons, jails, and detention centers; (2) minimizing police and other law enforcement interaction with Black and brown communities and holding the police accountable for grievous harm; and, (3) protecting and expanding voting rights and access, eliminating barriers that disenfranchise voters, and increasing civic engagement. The Staff Attorney will focus on these issues as well as other core civil rights and civil liberties matters.
The Staff Attorney will hone litigation skills under tutelage of more senior lawyers. We are accepting applicants to work either in the Philadelphia or Pittsburgh offices.
The ACLU-PA’s Legal Department is comprised of seven staff attorneys as well as legal fellows. Legal Department staff work on a wide range of civil rights and civil liberties cases, at both trial and appellate levels, in federal and state courts. They also support the legislative, advocacy, and communications work of the ACLU-PA.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Vision Statement
The ACLU-PA affirmatively values the humanity and contributions of those we work with, inside and outside of the organization, and will take action to build and sustain an equitable, anti-racist culture that centers the voices and experiences of marginalized and directly impacted people and communities, and an organizational environment where all people feel valued, trusted, and respected. We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and having a workforce that reflects the populations that we serve; we actively recruit people of color, women, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, and LGBQ&T, and gender non-conforming people.
Our work is guided by the principles of freedom, equality, and justice enumerated in the Constitution. However, we understand that systemic racism and other forms of oppression have prevented the equitable application of these principles to all, and we strive to ensure that our approach accounts for this reality. We also acknowledge that demands of the work as well as the challenging subject matter it often involves take a toll. While we know that the path of this work is long and hard, we also value the importance of personal wellbeing. To that end, we endeavor to cultivate a culture that is supportive and sustainable and promotes taking care of oneself.
Duties and Responsibilities
The vast majority of an ACLU-PA attorney’s work entails the investigation, development, and initiation of litigation involving a mix of high-impact and emergent cases, which requires the following duties and responsibilities:
- evaluating and investigating potential claims;
- conducting legal research and analysis;
- identifying potential plaintiffs and developing working relationships with them;
- working on cases with lawyers in the private bar (we call them “cooperating attorneys”);
- drafting pleadings, including motions, briefs, and complaints;
- handling fact and expert discovery;
- trial work, including TRO and preliminary injunction proceedings;
- conducting settlement negotiations;
- development of institutional-reform remedies and post-judgment monitoring;
- appellate brief writing and oral argument; and
- other duties as may be required to meet ACLU-PA needs.
- Other important aspects of an ACLU-PA attorney’s job involve:
- research and support for our Legislative program;
- advocacy work to advance civil rights through non-litigation means, such as writing public comments, public speaking, interactions with the press, know-your-rights presentations, and other public-education efforts;
- developing and maintaining relationships with community members, coalition groups, experts, government officials, and academics to establish collaborative relationships to advance our work;
- intra-organizational work, including strategic planning, the practice of inclusive norms, participation in internal meetings, and collaboration with other ACLU affiliates and the National ACLU; and,
- supervising law student interns.
- A J.D. from an ABA accredited law school
- Membership in the Pennsylvania Bar. If you are currently a member of another state bar, you must either be eligible to be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar or sit for the next available Pennsylvania Bar examination and pass within twelve months
- Litigation experience: one or more years of litigation experience in either federal or state court (a clerkship with a trial or appellate level court counts as litigation experience)
While no one person will have all of the skills and competencies enumerated below, the successful candidate should have many of the following:
Highly important skills/competencies:
- Excellent legal research, analysis, and writing abilities
- Critical thinking skills, including: being able to quickly grasp the subtleties of complex legal issues and identify patterns; the ability to come up with insightful, pragmatic, equitable, and sustainable ways to tackle common challenges and produce positive change; and, a successful track record of taking a concept from idea to implementation
- The ability to identify decisions, policies, or practices that have disparate impacts based on identity as well as the drive to make changes in systems and practices to advance equitable outcomes
- Direct personal or professional experience with communities impacted by systemic bias or economic exclusion
- Knowledge of and familiarity with racial equity and inclusion principles, including: being able to recognize ways that race and other identities intersect in the work, especially with communities we serve; being comfortable talking about identities such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, ability, or gender in plain, specific terms; and, understanding the historical context for racial inequity and its present-day implications
- Ability to manage a variety of work, to prioritize among competing demands, to stay organized and keep things on track, to take initiative to move cases forward, and to know when and how to ask for help
- Proven ability to work well on a team, to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, to pay attention to detail, to acknowledge mistakes, to be receptive to constructive feedback, and to be accountable and reliable
- Substantive knowledge of constitutional law
- Experience with federal civil rights litigation
- Experience engaging in the investigation, development, and initiation of complex litigation, including drafting pleadings, discovery, motion practice, and handling hearings
- Experience with criminal legal systems
- Experience and/or interest working at the intersection of criminal legal reform and economic justice
- Experience working directly or in coalition with grassroots and community-based organizations
- Experience with public speaking
Compensation & Benefits
We are committed to creating and maintaining a diverse workforce through equity initiatives, which includes equitable pay practices. Competitive compensation is commensurate with experience. The salary for the staff attorney is $68,000-$80,000 annually, depending on experience and within the parameters of the ACLU-PA compensation scale. We may also consider applicants who have additional relevant experience for a senior staff attorney position. Excellent benefits include generous vacation and sick leave; individual/family employer-provided health and dental insurance; life insurance and long-term disability; defined contribution plan with employer match; and 11 paid holidays. This position is full-time, salaried, and exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Applications will be accepted until August 31, 2021. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible. Applications must include (1) a resume, (2) a cover letter, and (3) a writing sample.
Please email your letter of interest and attachments to Witold Walczak, Legal Director, at email@example.com with a subject line of “Staff Attorney Position.” Application materials sent via postal mail or fax will not be accepted. No calls, please.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to support a work environment free from discrimination on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (over 40), sexual orientation, military and veteran status, and any other basis prohibited by law. The organization also provides reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. This equal employment opportunity policy applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, selection, advancement, training, problem resolution, and separation from employment. Through this policy, the ACLU-PA strives to establish and maintain an equitable and accessible work environment that is free from discrimination and supportive of a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of our communities and the people we serve.
Applications will be accepted until August 31, 2021, at which time the job announcement will be removed from our website, www.aclupa.org/jobs.
About the ACLU of Pennsylvania
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization that serves as an enduring guardian of justice, fairness, and freedom, working to protect civil liberties and advance equity for all.
ACLU-PA defends and promotes the fundamental principles and values protected by the constitutions of the United States and of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as by national, state and local civil rights laws. For more than 100 years, the ACLU has sought in particular to protect and expand the freedoms of expression, belief and association; voting rights; the separation of church and state; the right to privacy, including reproductive freedom; due process of law, including the rights of the accused and of immigrants; limitations on the power of police; limitations on the power of police; and the right to equal protection for all marginalized individuals and groups. In advancing these rights, ACLU-PA strives always to acknowledge and remedy the pervasive and persistent harms of systemic racism.
Integrating litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, organizing, and communications, ACLU-PA’s staff and volunteers work both independently and in coalition with those most affected by the issues we address to ensure that threats to liberty and the civil rights of all persons in Pennsylvania are met with stark resistance as we progress toward a more genuine multiracial, multicultural democracy.
ACLU-PA’s hiring process will comply with Philadelphia’s Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards (“Ban the Box”) ordinance.