Legal Director

Job Type

Full Time



Application Deadline



125 Broad Street
19th Floor
New York
United States






Position: Legal Director

Salary Range: Salary commensurate with experience. NYCLU has a generous and competitive benefits package.

Location: New York Civil Liberties Union, 125 Broad Street, NY, NY

Applications accepted through October 19, 2018


The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is one of the nation's leading advocates on behalf of constitutional rights and liberties. Founded in 1951, as the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, the NYCLU is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization with more than 180,000 members and supporters, and eight offices statewide. We work in the courts, in the legislatures and on the streets to advocate for racial and economic justice, free speech, freedom of religion, privacy and equality before the law for all New Yorkers. For more information please visit our website:


The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) invites applications for the position of Legal Director. The Legal Director is a member of the NYCLU's senior leadership team and provides vision and direction for the NYCLU's legal program. The Legal Director is responsible for overall management of the legal department and its docket, staff, and network of cooperating attorneys. The ideal candidate will be a skilled and innovative constitutional rights litigator, a superior manager, and an inspiring leader. Strong writing and editing skills are essential. Candidates should have the capacity to write for a popular audience and should have engaged in scholarship with a demonstrated capacity to communicate with academic communities. Litigation experience should evince an ability to develop and pursue litigation as part of an integrated advocacy strategy.


Consequently, the candidate should maintain a collaborative nature. An established presence within the legal community is also a desirable attribute.



The NYCLU is the New York State affiliate of the ACLU and has a tradition of engaging in important impact litigation and robust integrated advocacy in support of civil liberties and civil rights. Its primary office is in New York City, but it also maintains offices in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, White Plains and in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Its staff exceeds eighty employees, fellows, interns and volunteers.


The NYCLU has an active annual docket of about 50 cases addressing free speech, racial justice, criminal justice, reproductive rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, voting rights, and education reform. Our legal strategies are part of a multi-disciplinary approach to advocacy that integrates legal, policy and communications strategies and is built on the belief that fighting for civil liberties and civil rights means not just persuading judges but also gaining support from the broader community.


The Legal Department currently consists of the Legal Director, Associate Legal Director, twelve other attorneys, four paraprofessionals, an investigator, an assistant to the Legal Director and an intake unit. The Legal Director is responsible for recruiting, cultivating and overseeing NYCLU's cooperating attorney program, through which New York law firms provide NYCLU with pro bono assistance. The Legal Director reports to the Executive Director and works cooperatively with other department and project directors.



Legal program leadership: The Legal Director must develop and pursue a strategic vision for the legal program that advances the NYCLU's overall civil liberties and civil rights agenda; develop potential cases and legal theories; manage the docket of about 50 cases; assign cases; and work with attorneys to develop litigation strategies, including strategies that use the state constitution to

expand rights beyond federal law. The Legal Director must also ensure that the litigation is consistent with ACLU and NYCLU policy; develop relationships with law firms, legal organizations, and other coalition partners to advance issues of mutual concern; and pursue strategies to resolve matters short of litigation, as appropriate. The Legal Director must also collaborate and communicate with the Executive Director, and with other members of the Senior Staff on matters of strategy and direction. The Legal Director must maintain a collegial relationship with the NYCLU Board of Directors and must communicate with the Board in coordination with the Executive Director.


Personnel management: The Legal Director must hire, train, and supervise legal department staff, holding them accountable to NYCLU's standards of performance; oversee recruitment, mentoring, and professional development of legal staff and student interns consistent with the NYCLU’s commitment to equity and fairness; and supervise the management of the intake and referral unit, which screens requests for assistance, conducts initial factual research, provides information and referrals, and maintains intake records, resources, and databases.


Cooperating attorney program: The Legal Director must maintain and enhance the cooperating attorney program, in which attorneys in private practice handle NYCLU cases on a volunteer basis; pursue strategies to increase pro bono participation in the NYCLU's work; represent the NYCLU and various law-related events; and develop strong working relationships with area law firms.


Legal resource and advocacy: The Legal Director must provide analysis of court rulings and occasional legislative bills for senior staff; articulate the NYCLU’s views to the public and the media as requested by the Executive Director and Communications Director. Coordinate and collaborate with the national ACLU legal department, using it as a resource as appropriate; and engage actively with the State and New York City bar associations to advance the NYCLU's issues, mission and organization.


Collaboration with other departments: The Legal Director must function collaboratively with other departments and staff members of the NYCLU in an effort to maximize the effectiveness of the NYCLU’s multi-disciplinary program of litigation, advocacy, public education and community organizing.


Reporting, records management, and general duties: The Legal Director must prepare reports of litigation activities for the Executive Director, the Board of Directors and maintain reporting to the State judiciary as required by State law; ensure the maintenance of accurate and easily retrievable case files, legal research, and administrative files; attend NYCLU and ACLU events, including occasional meetings with donors; help facilitate smooth functioning of the office, and develop a solid understanding of office protocols and culture; and accept other assignments from the Executive Director.



The candidate should possess the following qualifications: Fifteen years of litigation experience, which should include substantial state and federal constitutional law experience. Such experience should involve a nuanced understanding of the development of constitutional doctrine and the application of civil liberties principles to contemporary controversies. Proven management ability, including experience in supervising attorneys and support staff, and in managing and encouraging volunteers, both students and professionals. Superior ability to plan effective strategies, establish realistic objectives, maintain momentum, and evaluate progress. Excellent organizational and time management skills to manage one’s own work as well as others, and to assure completion of assignments and projects.


A track record of successful leadership through strong communication, collaboration, and relationship-building. Ability and flexibility to work in both service and leadership roles with many diverse players and constituencies. Excellent problem-solving skills and demonstrated skills in participatory decision-making. Non-profit experience is a plus.


Excellent analytical, writing, and speaking skills. A demonstrated ability to write clearly and precisely. The ability to communicate effectively with plaintiffs, opposing counsel, staff, volunteers, and the general public. A demonstrated ability to convey difficult civil liberties issues to the general public.


A commitment to the goals and mission of the ACLU. Exemplary professional workplace behavior, unimpeachable integrity, and a commitment to the values of reliability, respect, accountability, and compassion. Flexibility, determination and good humor.


A demonstrated commitment to diversity and building an equitable and inclusive work environment; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socio- economic circumstance.


Competence in the use of office computer applications, electronic databases, and electronic legal research. (We use Microsoft Office.)


This position is exempt, and requires a willingness to work beyond a standard 7.5 hour workday, including evening and weekend meetings and events.


Licensed to practice law in New York and admitted to the federal district courts in New York and to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.


Professional Level


Minimum Education Required


How To Apply


To apply, email a letter of application and resume and writing sample to and please include in the subject line of the email: your ‘Legal Director’. In your letter, please indicate where you learned of the posting. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.


The NYCLU is proud to be an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and encourages all applicants regardless of race, sex, gender identity, age, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status or record of arrest or conviction. We are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and having a workforce that reflects the population that we serve.