Application Deadline: November 12, 2021
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU-WA) is seeking at least one experienced attorney to build, file, and litigate through trial complex civil actions in state and federal courts to protect and advance civil liberties for all Washingtonians—work that is important now more than ever.
The ACLU-WA has increased its level of operations during the previous federal administration to fight broad attacks on civil liberties while continuing to vigorously move forward the work of our existing projects. While we will continue to hold the new administration accountable, we are also excited to move ahead on our agenda to protect the rights of immigrants; implement policing and criminal justice changes; end the school to prison pipeline; fight technological invasions of privacy; protect free speech and promote race equity; and expand and protect the civil and human rights of all.
This attorney position will give us the capacity to push forward our affirmative agenda as well as engage in fast-moving, defensive battles against attacks on civil liberties.
*Please note: the ACLU-WA is closely following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and continues to carefully monitor public health pronouncements and recommendations. Currently, our office is closed and staff are working remotely until further notice.
As an organization, we value working together and look forward to when we return to our office. Until then, we provide laptops and technology support to do our best work even from our homes. You will need an effective WiFi connection and a way to reach you by phone. This position is eligible for either a work phone or phone stipend, as well as an additional $100 stipend each month to help cover any additional costs of working from home.
OVERVIEWThe ACLU of Washington is a leader among state affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union, the country's premier guardian of liberty. We work in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect and extend American rights to freedom, fairness, and equality. The ACLU is both nonprofit and nonpartisan. We are supported by more than 135,000 members, activists, and donors.
Whether it’s ending mass incarceration and police brutality, achieving full equality for LGBTQ people, protecting privacy in the digital age, preserving the right to vote, or ensuring reproductive freedom, the ACLU is willing to take on tough civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government and corporate abuse and overreach. And we’re successful. In the past several years in Washington State, we’ve won through litigation an injunction against police abuse of racial justice protestors, a nationally significant lawsuit for a gay couple who was denied service by their local florist, treatment in jails and prisons for people suffering from opioid use disorder, access to employment for people with criminal records, relief from discrimination for people who are transgender; and other victories.
We have also filed a number of groundbreaking cases, including suing border agents for harassment of BIPOC people on interstate buses; representing a doctor who was fired for criticizing his hospital’s COVID response; working to free detainees who are COVID vulnerable from immigration detention; and other cases. We also have an active amicus brief practice. The ACLU stands for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or national origin.
The ACLU of Washington is committed to ending racism in Washington State and throughout the country. This includes how we work with each other, and with our partners and allies in the communities we serve. We are committed to bringing anti-racism to all aspects of ACLU-WA's internal and external functions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring and human resources, strategic planning, ally, donor, and volunteer relations, Board and committee processes, and deciding what cases to litigate. We are looking for candidates who share this commitment to advancing racial justice, both internally in our organization and externally in the communities that we serve.
The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture and are committed to race equity in all aspects of our work. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, socio-economic circumstance, or record of arrest or conviction. We do not conduct criminal background checks on our candidates. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply.
PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIESStaff Attorney Responsibilities
Participation in ACLU-WA’s race equity work. This may include utilizing ACLU-WA race equity tools, adopting ACLU-WA race equity practices, serving on the Race Equity Team or subcommittees, etc.
The staff attorney will be responsible for investigating, filing, and litigating through trial civil liberties and civil rights cases in both federal and state courts. This includes legal research, investigative work, identifying and signing up named plaintiffs, complaint drafting, discovery and motion practice, and handling trials and appeals, as well as participating in work on amicus briefs.
The staff attorney will be responsible for maintaining an active docket of their own cases, typically with assistance from outside cooperating attorneys and a senior staff attorney, as well as helping to supervise interns and fellows in the department as applicable and needed.
The staff attorney will also engage in advocacy, coordinate with the various policy-focused attorneys and other staff in the office, provide legal analysis to advance other ACLU policy work, and conduct community outreach as needed. Along with other staff members, the staff attorney will represent the ACLU publicly, speaking to the media and others, as assigned.
Travel, as well as some work on nights and weekends, may be necessary. Along with all employees, the staff attorney is expected to help maintain a positive, respectful, welcoming, and professional work environment for employees and volunteers.
Senior Staff Attorney Responsibilities
In addition to the above primary responsibilities, the senior staff attorney may also be asked to assist in the supervision and management of cases brought by other attorneys inside and outside the office, the drafting and review of internal and external department reports, and other non-litigation tasks essential for the smooth running of the Legal Department as needed.
QUALIFICATIONSStaff Attorney Qualifications
At least five (5) years of strong litigation experience. Previous experience such as Plaintiffs’ side work, constitutional law litigation, previous trial experience, and experience litigating in Washington is a plus.
Must have ability to build, file and litigate cases independently and collaboratively; excellent problem-solving skills; ability to juggle multiple on-going projects and exercise good judgment under stressful situations; and ability to affirmatively challenge civil rights violations.
Must also have superior writing, research and verbal skills in presenting both to lawyers and to the non-lawyer public; leadership and organizational skills in order to encourage volunteer lawyers and work cooperatively in coalitions on complicated cases; the ability to take initiative, think strategically, take responsibility and share credit.
Must have an awareness of, and willingness to engage in, the difficult and transformative work of challenging systems of oppression, institutional and structural racism, and implicit bias. Must have ability to work with and have work driven or directed by communities impacted by systems of oppression; established relationships with Washington communities preferred.
Must be a member of the Washington State Bar (or willing to take the next bar examination or be admitted by motion).
Senior Staff Attorney Qualifications
In addition to the staff attorney qualifications, the senior staff attorney position requires at least ten (10) years of significant civil litigation experience, with demonstrated ability to develop and litigate complex litigation and/or class actions through trial.
Plaintiffs’ side work and/or previous experience in constitutional law litigation are strongly preferred, as is experience supervising.
WORK ENVIRONMENTThe ACLU-WA’s staff of 40+ employees and numerous volunteers generally work in a standard office setting in downtown Seattle between the hours of 9am and 5pm. The physical demands and work environment described below represent those required and encountered by an employee to perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
- Ability to type on a keyboard for long periods of time.
- Ability to sit or stand for extended periods.
- Ability to travel locally/regionally/across the state as needed.
- Ability to work some evenings, weekends, and holidays.
- Ability to periodically work long and extended hours.
- Ability to view a computer screen for long periods of time.
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. This position is “exempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
COMPENSATION AND BENEFITSThe ACLU of WA is dedicated to centering equity in all aspects of the organization and, as such, has adopted a salary scale for measuring how to best compensate its employees. The salary for the Staff Attorney position will be no less than $83,435. The Senior Staff Attorney salary will be no less than $99,000. The minimum salary indicates the intention to accommodate those with varying years of relevant experience, as determined by the salary scale.
Benefits include three weeks of vacation, thirteen sick days, fifteen holidays, fully paid employee medical, dental, vision, and disability insurance, a generous retirement plan, and an ORCA card, the regional transportation pass.
APPLICATION PROCEDURETo apply, email a cover letter, writing sample, and resume to “Hiring Team” at [email protected] and include in the subject line of the email: your name and the position for which you would like to be considered, Staff Attorney or Senior Staff Attorney. In your cover letter, please indicate where you learned of the posting. Applications will be accepted until November 12, 2021, at which time the job announcement will be removed from our website at www.aclu-wa.org/careers.
The ACLU of Washington comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation. The two corporations share the same overall mission, office space, and employees. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU of Washington”.