The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) invites third-year law students and recent law graduates to serve for one year as a Civic Engagement & Transparency Law Fellow.
With the rise of civic activism, the ACLU-NJ wants to ensure that residents are able to participate fully at all levels of government. As communications technologies evolve, local governments have not always kept up and the new ways of doing the public’s business can be less than transparent or prevent residents from engaging in issues of public importance.
Through community engagement, advocacy, public education, and litigation, the fellow will work to protect and expand the rights of residents to participate in democracy. The fellow will reach out to community groups, investigate complaints, and develop Know Your Rights materials. In addition, the fellow will research, report on, and develop model legislation/policies in three priority areas: social media use by public entities and officials; right to record public meetings; and the use of personal email and texting to conduct official business. The fellow will also have opportunities to participate in litigation seeking access to public records.
The start date for this twelve-month position is flexible and, if necessary, can begin as late as September 16, 2019.
The ACLU-NJ has secured funding for this position. The successful candidate will not need to apply for outside fellowship funding from organizations like the Skadden Fellowship Foundation and Equal Justice Works.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
- Provide in-depth policy analysis on transparency issues in New Jersey
- Research transparency issues and prepare position papers, advocacy materials, legal memoranda, demand letters, and litigation documents
- Handle ACLU-NJ public records requests and needs
- Review and investigate legal requests and complaints
- Participate directly in litigation in selected cases
- Monitor litigation being handled by cooperating attorneys and provide back-up assistance as needed
- Work collaboratively with all ACLU-NJ staff to optimize the impact of our work
- Engage in public speaking and respond to press inquiries as requested
- Write and edit public education communications including web content, pamphlets, correspondence, and other written materials; keep publications accurate and up-to-date
- Supervise law student projects
Experience and Qualifications
- Recent law graduate (class of 2017, 2018, or 2019)
- Licensed to practice law, or willing to sit for July 2019 bar exam
- Strong understanding of and commitment to civics and government transparency
- Ability to work independently and keep organized in a fast-paced environment, manage several projects simultaneously, and adjust strategy to frequently changing demands
- Excellent research, writing, and analytical skills
- Litigation (including law school clinics), policy advocacy, and public speaking experience preferred
- A demonstrated ability to work respectfully and effectively with staff, coalitions, and community groups, and work collaboratively across the political and socioeconomic spectrum
- A strong commitment to racial equity, and an understanding of how power is manifested in matters of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, ability, and socio-economic circumstances
- Ability to manage a demanding schedule, working beyond 9 a.m.-5 p.m. as needed
- Ability and willingness to travel throughout the state of New Jersey and sometimes out of state for meetings
- Familiarity with New Jersey courts and governmental structures preferred
Compensation and Terms
The ACLU-NJ offers a comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and in line with the ACLU-NJ compensation scale. Benefits for first-year employees currently include 16 days paid time off in addition to 11 office holidays and 12 health care leave days; medical, vision, and dental insurance; life and long-term disability insurance; pre-tax transit benefits; and 401(k) plan.
To apply, complete the form below and upload a resume, letter of interest, and writing sample (no longer than 10 double-spaced pages). Your letter should explain ways in which you satisfy the skills and qualifications specified above. We also invite applicants to include in their letter information about how their background and/or experiences could contribute to the diversity, cultural vitality, and perspective of our staff and advocacy work.
Application materials will also be accepted via postal mail, but electronic filing is strongly preferred. The position will remain open until filled.
The ACLU-NJ is an equal opportunity employer and embraces diversity, including those characteristics protected by law and beyond. We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills, and we value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The more inclusive we are, the better we are.