Staff Attorney, Democracy and Civic Engagement (San Francisco, Sacramento, or Fresno)

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ACLU of Northern CA

The Opportunity

The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU NorCal) is hiring a Staff Attorney to join its Democracy & Civic Engagement Program. The Staff Attorney will help build and expand the cutting-edge legal and policy work of the Democracy & Civic Engagement team — one of six broad issue-based teams in the affiliate’s Legal-Policy Department. This is an exciting opportunity to provide vision and support to a program that includes voting rights, free speech and association, and open government.  

The Staff Attorney will be supervised by the Democracy & Civic Engagement Program Director. The position can be based in ACLU NorCal’s San Francisco, Sacramento, or Fresno offices. 

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 matter 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 staff attorney will join a program team committed to improving access to voting, accountability of government officials, and safeguarding freedom of expression and association.  In the short-term, one of the focuses of this role will be on the Democracy & Civic Engagement Team’s local redistricting efforts. Working in coalition with our partners, the staff attorney will lead the Program’s participation in redistricting processes with the goal of increasing and ensuring fair representation and political power for communities of color and other historically disenfranchised communities.  The staff attorney will also contribute to the Program’s active cases, multiyear integrated advocacy campaigns and respond attacks on civic engagement as they emerge. 

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 (501c3) and the ACLU of Northern California (501c4). The incumbent is a joint employee of both corporations. For most of the last century, it has been at the heart 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 and face dangerous policies that threaten our civil rights and civil liberties, we remain dedicated to confronting these issues and defending the progress we have made. We must use our decades of experience in impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and fearless organizing to fight these un-American policies and protect our most cherished rights and freedoms. We are committed to fostering an anti-racist work culture and to anti-racist principles and learning. We are the resistance. Join us.

Duties and Responsibilities  

  • Engage in the investigation, development, initiation, and litigation of high-impact cases, which could include managing fact and expert discovery; conducting legal research and analysis; drafting pleadings, motions, briefs, and complaints; evaluating and investigating potentials claims; identifying potential plaintiffs, issuing public records requests; and coordinating amicus briefing.
  • Engage in local and state policy advocacy, which could include performing legal and policy research; developing policy models; drafting advocacy letters; providing expertise to policymakers; and drafting reports and other public education materials to both demonstrate the need for policy change and facilitate policy implementation.
  • Forge and maintain relationships with community members, coalition groups, experts, government officials, and academics to engage them in our work and implement collaborative projects.
  • Participate in team, department, and other meetings; help to set a collaborative, inclusive culture for the Democracy & Civic Engagement Program; engage 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.
  • 4 or more years of litigation experience in either federal or state court; at least 1-2 years of experience litigating in program team issue areas.

 Required Skills / Competencies:

  • Experience engaging in the investigation, development, initiation and litigation of high-impact cases, including discovery, motion practice, hearings, trials, and appeals.
  • Ability to manage fact and expert discovery in fact-intensive litigation.
  • Experience with policy advocacy, including drafting, evaluating, and working to advance key legislation and administrative policies.
  • 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.
  • Experience working directly or in coalition with grassroots and community-based organizations.
  • Commitment to and understanding of Democracy & Civic Engagement issue areas.
  • 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.
  • Relationship-building skills and willingness to work as part of a team, and to be an engaged, proactive member of internal cohorts, as well as outside coalitions on which you work and interact.   
  • Commitment to diversity and demonstrated ability to hold and foster difficult and necessary conversations about race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, ability, and other identity-based issues.
  • Commitment to incorporating racial equity principles into all aspects of work.

 Preferred Skills / Competencies:

  • Fluency in Spanish or other non-English language widely spoken in California.
  • Intersectional analysis and the ability to contextualize Democracy & Civic Engagement issue areas within other social justice movements.
  • Direct personal or professional experience with impacted communities.

Technical Skills:

  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Word, Outlook, Adobe Acrobat, PowerPoint, Excel, and other Office programs.


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 $97,491.81 - $219,356.58 Annually. Salary placement is based on graduation year from law school or equivalent experience.

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.

This position is represented by IFTPE Local 20.

To Apply

Applications will be accepted until the position is 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 cover letter explaining why you are interested in this position and the ways in which you satisfy the qualifications specified above, (2) a resume, and (3) a writing sample. 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, arrest or conviction record, 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 supportive and free from discrimination.

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