The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU-VA) seeks a self-motivated, skilled litigator with management experience interested in defending civil liberties and advancing civil rights.

ACLU-VA is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that defends and protects those civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the nation’s and Virginia’s civil rights laws. ACLU-VA is the state affiliate of the national ACLU, which for nearly 100 years has served as the nation’s premier guardian of the liberties that define our democracy. Together with the national ACLU, ACLU-VA works to advance civil liberties by employing litigation, public policy advocacy, public education, organizing, communications and social media to protect and promote a broad range of individual rights, including freedom of speech, racial justice, privacy, religious liberty, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights and rights for people with disabilities. The organization often works with broad coalitions of conservatives, moderates, and progressives, locally, statewide and nationally.

The Virginia affiliate, with its office in Richmond, Virginia, has a $1.8 million operating budget and 12 staff positions. ACLU-VA is two separate non-profit organizations: the ACLU of Virginia, a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation that primarily engages in lobbying and advocacy, and the ACLU Foundation of Virginia, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that primarily engages in litigation and public education.

Position Overview:

Reports to: Legal Director

Exempt/Non-exempt: Exempt

Job Summary: The Senior Staff Attorney is a new role being created to ensure that the ACLU-VA has the depth of legal leadership and litigation experience it needs to develop and advance complex impact litigation as well as engage over 300 volunteer attorneys.  The Senior Staff Attorney, under the direction of the Legal Director, will litigate cases and participate in non-litigation advocacy to advance civil liberties in Virginia.  The senior staff attorney will serve as both lead and co-counsel on a variety of civil liberties cases, and will have substantial supervisory authority over staff and cooperating attorneys, legal fellows, paralegals, and interns.  In cooperation with the leadership team, the senior staff attorney will help set priorities and develop strategies for the organization’s legal work.  The senior staff attorney will also participate in non-litigation advocacy to advance civil liberties and rights including legislative support, public speaking and education, recruitment of cooperating attorneys/interns/volunteers, and fundraising as necessary.

Major Job Responsibilities/Activities:


  • Investigates, develops, and litigates civil liberties and rights cases, including the demonstrated ability to conduct all aspects of factual and legal research; devise legal theory and strategy; evaluate and analyze potential claims; identify possible plaintiffs and defendants; interview clients and potential witnesses; work with experts; prepare memoranda; and draft demand letters;
  • Acts as lead attorney in litigating civil liberties and rights cases in federal and state courts by drafting pleadings, motions, briefs and correspondence; conducting discovery; taking and defending depositions; arguing motions; trying cases; handling appeals; working with experts; negotiating and monitoring settlements; and pursuing attorney fee awards;
  • Assists in expanding the litigation and legal advocacy docket for the legal department;
  • Seeks out and cultivates pro bono relationships and relationships with cooperating attorneys;
  • Manages the intake process; handles intakes; fully participates in documenting intakes in case management system; supervise the intake database administration; reviews intake complaints for potential action; supervises paralegals, fellows, interns, or volunteers participating in the administration of the intake program;
  • Drafts or coordinates amicus briefs in cases of constitutional significance;
  • Monitors and oversees litigation being handled by cooperating attorneys and provides assistance when necessary;
  • Ensures that all pleadings are filed timely and according to court rules;
  • Develops litigation strategy with Legal Director; and
  • Travels for the purposes of litigation, advocacy, and professional development as needed.

Advocacy/Public Education:

  • Drafts memoranda, reports, public education materials, and legislative advocacy support materials;
  • Collaborates with the Legal Director and other staff as requested to develop and present positions on current civil liberties issues;
  • Acts as a resource to staff handling policy advocacy, public education, and communications.
  • Collaborates in the development and implementation of integrated advocacy initiatives and strategies in which litigation is one advocacy tool;
  • Helps organize legal education training and public events on civil liberties and rights;
  • Serves as a spokesperson for the ACLU-VA on cases and issues as assigned for both the media and as a public speaker;
  • Represents the ACLU-VA at bar functions and meeting and continuing legal education seminars; and
  • Writes letters and provides public comment and testimony before state and local government and regulatory agencies on matters affecting civil liberties and rights.

Legal Program Administration & Support:

  • Actively recruits and supervises cooperating attorneys, legal interns, law students, and other volunteers;
  • Develops and maintains relationships with national ACLU staff and other affiliates;
  • Contributes to the maintenance of the legal docket and intake database;
  • Travels to attend local, state, or national meetings as necessary;
  • Ensures that Executive Director and Legal Director are adequately informed of work, including, preparing reports and providing other support as needed;
  • Meets with donors to discuss the legal program, as requested; and
  • Develops and conducts staff training sessions, workshops, continuing legal education events, and other events on ACLU-VA issues, as appropriate.

Minimum Requirements:

  • J.D. from an accredited law school;
  • Admission to the Virginia State Bar or admission within six months;
  • Continued good standing with the Virginia State Bar;
  • Substantial litigation experience, or equivalent experience demonstrating thorough knowledge of constitutional issues and the ability to lead and supervise litigation of cases in state or federal court;
  • Demonstrated ability and experience in delegating effectively to junior attorneys, volunteer attorneys, cooperating attorneys, paralegals, interns, externs, legal fellows and other staff.
  • Demonstrated ability and experience in acting as lead attorney in an independent docket of cases, and supervise staff attorneys, legal fellows, cooperating attorneys, and paralegals on matters related to those cases;
  • A strong and demonstrated commitment to civil liberties and civil rights, and support for the goals of the American Civil Liberties Union;
  • Willingness to work beyond the normal work day or more than 40 hours per week;
  • Willingness to travel as necessary;
  • Demonstrated ability as an outcomes-focused, critical thinker who is also an initiator, exhibits resourcefulness and good judgment, has commitment and follow-through, possesses effective time-management and prioritization, and has a growth-mindset; and
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance; and has the ability to work with diverse individuals within the organization and broader community.

Essential Skills and Abilities:

  • Self-motivated and committed to civil liberties and rights;
  • Knowledge of and interest in constitutional law and civil liberties;
  • Demonstrated skill at litigating independently, collaboratively, and under pressure;
  • Excellent research and writing, and speaking skills;
  • Ability to assimilate and synthesize quickly oral and written data, to analyze facts and draw logical conclusions, demonstrating excellent analytical skills;
  • Strong interpersonal skills and willingness to function as a member of the team;
  • Ability to think creatively and implement non-litigation strategies to promote objectives;
  • Ability to work cooperatively on a variety of projects with lawyers, other staff members, cooperating attorneys, and with diverse organizations and coalitions;
  • Capacity to work on multiple time-sensitive projects effectively, efficiently, and, as appropriate, autonomously with close attention to detail; and
  • Ability to use judgment, tact, and discretion.

Desirable Attributes:

  • Demonstrated leadership experience in the community, non-profit, or legal field;
  • Fluency in Spanish;
  • Experience or demonstrated interest in criminal justice reform issues.

Compensation and Benefits: Salary based on market factors and individual experience and abilities. The salary range for this position is $70,700-$106,520. To preserve the opportunity for advancement, we do not normally hire above the mid-point of the range. Excellent benefits include paid time off, paid family and medical leave, generous paid holidays, medical and dental insurance, 401k plan, life insurance, and income replacement during illness through a combination of paid family and medical leave, short-term disability and long-term disability insurance.

To Apply: Email a letter of interest, resume, two legal writing samples, and three professional references to jobs@acluva.org. Please indicate “Senior Staff Attorney” in the subject line of your email. Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this job opportunity. No phone calls, please.

Alternatively, application materials may be mailed to: ACLU of Virginia, 701 E. Franklin Street, Suite 1412, Richmond, VA 23219.

Deadline: Application materials will be reviewed as received and will be accepted until the position is filled.

The ACLU of Virginia is an equal opportunity employer.  We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU of Virginia encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status.   Persons with disabilities may request accommodations.

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