Staff Attorney – Criminal Justice Reform

Job Type

Full Time




United States



The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Criminal Justice Reform practice group focuses primarily on (1) reforming the juvenile, criminal justice, and immigration enforcement systems so they operate fairly and equitably; (2) ensuring the dignity and humanity of those interacting with these systems; and (3) reducing the population of individuals detained and incarcerated in the states where we work, including those held in immigration detention facilities.

This position will focus on advancing criminal justice reform in Alabama. The primary focus of the position will be litigating conditions of confinement in Alabama prisons. Additional subjects of litigation may include addressing unconstitutional conditions in Alabama’s juvenile, adult, and immigrant detention facilities; advancing sentencing reform; and combating the effects of over-policing, the denial of due process in the criminal justice system, racial disparities, and collateral consequences of justice system involvement.

The United States’ mass incarceration problem extends beyond just incarceration under criminal laws—it also includes the civil incarceration of noncitizens. Each year the United States detains just over 350,000 people in connection with civil immigration laws. Our legal team’s work includes campaigns and litigation to improve conditions of confinement in immigrant prisons (including medical and mental health care, violence, excessive heat, poor sanitation, failure to protect from harm, First Amendment rights, etc.); end solitary confinement; ensure people detained in immigration prisons have access to counsel; and end the privatization of immigrant prisons.

The Staff Attorney will litigate individual and class action cases raising constitutional and statutory claims in federal and Alabama courts, at both the trial and appellate level. S/he may engage in legislative work and public advocacy.

The focus of the position may change as warranted by changes in the law, the circumstances in Alabama, or the needs of the organization.

Primary Job Functions:

  • Litigate cases and work on campaigns under supervision of the Senior Supervising Attorney;
  • Research legal and policy issues related to criminal justice reform, including immigration detention and imprisonment;
  • Draft briefs, motions, memos, and other documents in support of litigation and policy work;
  • Communicate regularly with SPLC’s clients, co-counsel, and partner organizations;
  • Represent SPLC in various forums, including before community groups, legislators, and state agencies;
  • Respond to requests for legal assistance; and
  • Other duties as assigned to meet SPLC needs.

Qualifications –

Education and Related Work Experience:

  • Juris Doctorate Degree;
  • At least three years of federal court civil litigation or comparable legal experience, preferably including litigation of systemic reform cases;
  • Strong academic background;
  • Excellent research and writing skills; and
  • Admission to the Alabama Bar or willingness to sit for the next bar exam.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Excellent and consistent attention to detail and the ability to prioritize and meet deadlines;
  • Aptitude for and willingness to be a team player;
  • Initiative, vision, and a proven commitment to the struggle for social justice;
  • Ability to prioritize responsibilities and have fun in a high-energy, fast-paced work environment;
  • Initiative and ability to work collaboratively and efficiently;
  • Strong organizational skills, follow-through and flexibility around changing priorities and deadlines;
  • Ability to work on several campaigns at once in conjunction with Center attorneys;
  • Strong communication skills;
  • Understanding and sensitivity to issues client populations face;
  • Commitment to a non-hierarchical, client-centered approach to advocacy and ability to work on delicate issues in a compassionate and sensitive manner;
  • Experience working with diverse groups of partners;
  • Willingness to learn and use internal computer systems and databases; and
  • Spanish language ability preferred but not required.

To Apply:

Along with a resume, please submit a writing sample of 5 pages, a cover letter, three references, and unofficial transcript. 

Other Special Considerations:

This job is performed under general office conditions, and is not subject to any strenuous physical demands or dangerous conditions


The statements herein are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by the employee in this position. These statements are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of a person in this position.

An Equal-Opportunity Employer with a Commitment to Diversity

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is proud to be an equal opportunity employer, and as an organization committed to diversity and the perspective of all voices, we consider applicants equally of race, gender, gender identity, color, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, disability, political affiliation, national origin, or prior record of arrest or conviction.

Level of Language Proficiency

  • Spanish language ability preferred but not required.

Professional Level

Entry level

Minimum Education Required


How To Apply

Along with a resume, please submit a writing sample of 5 pages, a cover letter, three references, and unofficial transcript using the following website: