Director for Appellate Advocacy

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ACLU of Northern CA

The Opportunity

The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU NorCal) seeks a Director for Appellate Advocacy for the San Francisco office. 

The Approach

Our work is guided by the principles of freedom, equality, and justice enumerated in the Constitution. However, we know that because of historic and systemic racism and other forms of oppression, these principles are not equitably applied to all. In an ideal world, everyone would have equal access to justice and equal protection under the law. Unfortunately, neither our world nor our country is ideal. Our work involves hard subject matters that can be emotionally draining for some people. Ideal candidates will understand that as a mission driven organization; we strive to make the world a better place knowing that the road is long and hard. At the same time, we understand the importance of self-care, and do our best to reflect that in our practices and values.

The Position

The Director for Appellate Advocacy works under the supervision of the Legal-Policy Co-Director (Legal Director) to support and guide the affiliate’s appellate strategy. The Director for Appellate Advocacy will regularly monitor and review the docket of the California Supreme Court and, working with the issue teams, identify opportunities for the ACLU to weigh in on issues before the Court. The Director for Appellate Advocacy will directly engage in the drafting of briefs and in arguments before the California Supreme Court and will also support appellate advocacy in other jurisdictions, such as in the California Court of Appeals and before the Ninth Circuit. The Director for Appellate Advocacy will also hire and supervise two or more fellows for the Legal-Policy Department.

This position is not represented IFPTE Local 20.

About the Organization

The ACLU of Northern California is an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU NorCal) is comprised of two distinct corporations, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California (the “Foundation”, a 501c3) and the ACLU of Northern California (the “Union”, a 501c4). The incumbent is a joint employee of both corporations. For most of the last century, ACLU Nor Cal has been part of many of the most major – and sometimes controversial – struggles for civil liberties and civil rights in our state.

Our mission is to ensure that Constitutional rights don’t just exist on paper but are protected in practice. As we move into a new era, we face dangerous policies that threaten our civil rights and civil liberties, we must use our decades of experience in impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and fearless organizing to fight these policies and protect our most cherished rights and freedoms. At the same time, ACLU NorCal is committed to advancing proactive and positive change to transform laws and institutions to advance our values. We are committed to fostering an anti-racist work culture and to anti-racist principles and learning.

COVID-19 Prevention

The ACLU NorCal physical offices are open. Up to date vaccination against COVID-19 is required as a condition of employment unless an exemption is requested and approved. Masking is required for in person work at this time.

Duties & Responsibilities

Develop a legal strategy for furthering ACLU issues in the appellate courts. Evaluate priorities of each issue team and apply that knowledge to development of organization’s appellate docket. Manages docket monitoring, development, and filing of letters and briefs before the California Supreme Court. Support and guide the development and filing of appellate briefs before California Courts of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Also support the Legal-Policy Co-Director (Legal Director) in reviewing substantive briefs from the six program teams.

The Director for Appellate Advocacy will provide detailed feedback around written work product and provide hands-on supervision for two or more fellows for the Legal-Policy Department, which includes hiring, evaluating, assigning and supervising tasks and projects from the six program teams, overseeing work product, and managing performance. The Director of Appellate Advocacy may also directly assign projects to the fellows, not to exceed 25% of the fellows' workload.

Provide leadership for the Legal-Policy Department; including ancillary management support to all Legal-Policy managers; contribute to a collaborative, inclusive culture for the Legal-Policy department; interact and develop partnership with colleagues at other ACLU affiliates and National ACLU as well as with external partners.


Education / Experience:

  • J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school.
  • Membership in the California State Bar. If you are currently a member of another state bar, you must sit for the next available California Bar Examination and pass the California Bar Examination within 12 months of joining the organization.
  • 10 or more years of litigation experience in state court; at least 3 years of experience litigating appeals.
  • Minimum of 3 years’ experience managing legal staff

(We welcome you to include any lived experience you are comfortable sharing in your cover letter or an additional attachment)

Required Skills / Competencies:

  • Experience engaging in the investigation, development, initiation, and litigation of cases in California state courts.
  • Experience drafting and arguing appeals.
  • Strong legal research, analysis, and writing abilities, and ability to craft novel and successful litigation and/or other advocacy strategies in response to inequitable systems.
  • Ability to effectively communicate, through both writing and public speaking, to various audiences about complex legal and technical issues.
  • Demonstrated initiative and creative problem-solving.
  • Strong project and time management skills, including a high level of organization, attention to detail, and follow-through, while balancing and prioritizing multiple activities and responsibilities.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide support, supervision, and strategic guidance to others.

Technical Skills:

Proficient with Microsoft Office suite and Adobe Acrobat

Total Compensation

We are committed to creating and maintaining a diverse workforce through equity initiatives, which includes equitable pay practices. Competitive compensation is commensurate with experience. Starting salary range for this position is $153,270 to $ 178,815 Annually.

We understand how vital our work is and at the same time understand the toll engaged activism can take. Our goal is to retain staff and we believe that having a robust benefit offering is vital in meeting that goal. Our benefits include four weeks paid vacation in addition to 14 office holidays; fully employer-paid medical, vision and dental insurance for staff members, their dependents and spouse or domestic partner; life and long-term disability insurance; and 401(k) plan with employer match. We have a robust Employee Assistance Program and emerging Employee Resource Groups.

To Apply

Applications will be accepted until the position has been filled. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible as we will be evaluating applications on a rolling basis.  Applications must include (1) a resume, (2) a cover letter, and 3) a list of three references (4) two appellate writing samples. Applicants concurrently applying to any other position with the ACLU should state what other position they are applying for in the cover letter. Please submit your application online at:

The ACLU NorCal is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please e-mail  If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process. 

The ACLU of Northern California 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 NorCal 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.  ACLU NorCal will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).

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