Senior Staff Attorney

San Francisco, California, United States Full-time

Title: Senior Staff Attorney

Location: San Francisco, CA

Application deadline: Open until filled


The Opportunity

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California (ACLU NorCal) seeks a Senior Staff Attorney with substantial litigation experience to work in our San Francisco office.

The Approach

You are an experienced litigator, inspiring leader, successful manager, and passionate advocate for civil rights and civil liberties. You excel at developing and litigating high-impact cases and identifying multi-pronged legal, policy, and community engagement strategies. You provide high quality supervision and mentorship, take a solutions-oriented approach, and exercise sound independent judgment to work collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders. You thrive in a busy, bustling work ecosystem and balance being available to others while staying focused and prioritizing your key objectives.  You understand the value of working in coalition and you know how to collaborate with other attorneys, community advocates, and clients.

The Position

You are responsible for helping to build the litigation and legal advocacy docket for ACLU Nor Cal, identifying cutting-edge issues for the ACLU to explore. This includes mentoring and supervising Staff Attorneys and volunteer attorneys as they litigate cases involving significant civil-liberties and civil-rights issues in a range of areas, including criminal justice, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, economic justice, voting rights, speech rights, and open government. In coordination with the ACLU of California and national ACLU office, you actively engage in policy advocacy campaigns at the local, state, or national level. You are the person that others turn to for legal expertise on litigation matters and/or draft legislation and regulations that impact your region. You regularly represent the ACLU in the courts, in the media, before legislative bodies, and with key organizational partners.

About the Organization

ACLU NorCal is an affiliate of a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights. For most of the last century, it has been at the heart of many 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. Facing new and ongoing threats to 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 unfair and illegal policies and to protect our most cherished rights and freedoms. Senior Staff Attorneys are critical members of the Legal-Policy Department and the statewide collaboration of the ACLU Foundations in California aimed at maximizing our impact and enhancing the protection of civil liberties and civil rights statewide. Join us.

Duties & Responsibilities

Leading Litigation & Advocacy

  • Lead multi-pronged strategies using litigation, public education, and legislative and policy advocacy to further ACLU NorCal’s strategic plans; 
  • Supervise the investigation, development, and litigation of high-impact cases, including discovery, motion practice, hearings, trials, and appeals; 
  • Review and respond to requests for legal assistance, in accordance with the organization’s intake procedures; 
  • Respond to community needs as they arise, potentially on an emergency basis; and
  • Develop strong co-counsel relationships with other public interest lawyers and ACLU volunteer lawyers.

Staff Supervision & Coordination 

  • Supervise attorneys in their litigation and non-litigation related work and professional development, and supervise department support staff in your office;
  • Review and consult on litigation and other legal advocacy proposals and participate in Legal-Policy Department management meetings;
  • Work in collaboration and coordination with other ACLU Foundations in California and our shared statewide issue teams; and
  • Work closely with non-legal program staff, particularly legislative, communications, organizing, advocacy, and fundraising professionals on ACLU NorCal campaigns and activities.

Supporting Policy Advocacy & Community Outreach

  • Support and deepen existing and new relationships with community partners, coalitions, and stakeholders;
  • Ensure appropriate communication and coordination between ACLU NorCal and other ACLU offices on state-wide and federal litigation and advocacy. 
  • Engage in community outreach and public speaking, including representing the ACLU NorCal’s positions to the media and public generally; and
  • Use cultural sensitivity and awareness to develop appropriate and effective strategies to address the needs and advance the rights of vulnerable communities.


  • J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school and 10 or more years of litigation experience in state and federal court;
  • Exceptional legal research, analysis, and writing abilities, and ability to develop novel and successful litigation and non-litigation advocacy in response to serious problems facing communities;
  • Familiarity and ease with the legal doctrines and structures that apply to constitutional and civil rights litigation;
  • Strong oral advocacy skills, including significant experience with oral argument and examining witnesses under oath, as well as communicating effectively with the public and policymakers;
  • Ability to manage fact and expert discovery in fact-intensive litigation;
  • Experience supervising and mentoring attorneys, law fellows, and support staff;
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively in a complex organizational ecosystem; 
  • Flexibility for travel within the Bay Area and to the Central Valley, and ability to work long hours when needed; and
  • Membership in the California State Bar (or must pass the next California Bar Examination if currently member of another state bar).
  • Criminal justice background and multiple language abilities preferred.


The ACLU-NC is currently undergoing a salary study and we expect that the range for this position (from 10 years to 15 years out of law school) will be approximately: $111,000 to $131,000. Excellent benefits include four weeks paid vacation in addition to 14 office holidays; 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.

To Apply

Applications will be accepted until the position has been filled. 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) resume, (3) writing sample (no more than 10 pages) that indicates whether it is entirely your work or was edited by others (and if so, in what respect) and (4) a list of four references. 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 in PDF format to the attention of Senior Staff Attorney SF Search to:


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-NC strives to establish and maintain an equitable and accessible work environment that is supportive and free from discrimination.

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