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Counsel, Liberty and National Security Program

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice. We work to hold our political institutions and laws accountable to the twin American ideals of democracy and equal justice for all. Part think tank, part public interest law center, part cutting-edge communications hub, we are known for our rigorous research. We craft innovative policies and we fight for them — in Congress and the states, in the courts, and in the court of public opinion. 

The Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program works to advance effective national security policies that respect the rule of law and constitutional values. Our current program priorities include protecting against abuses of emergency powers and surveillance authorities, reining in excessive government secrecy, and countering Islamophobic policies and rhetoric. 

Position: The Brennan Center seeks an attorney for its Liberty and National Security Program. The position is based in the Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C. office and requires occasional travel to New York City and other locations. The position is funded for a two-year period; an extension of this period is possible but not guaranteed. 

The attorney will focus primarily on the Program’s efforts to protect against the abuse of emergency powers and to ensure that domestic security activities are conducted in accordance with the rule of law.

Responsibilities will include: 

  • Engaging in legal and policy research and analysis. 
  • Producing written reports and other public education materials. 
  • Participating in communications activities such as public speaking engagements, outreach to media and media appearances, op-eds, blog posts, and conferences. 
  • Conceiving and planning public events and private convenings. 
  • Advancing policy reforms by educating and providing advice to lawmakers, and by working in coalitions and with external stakeholders. 
  • Taking an active role in coalition-building. 
  • Identifying and conducting interviews with relevant subject matter experts. 
  • Advising officials, advocates, and activists. 
  • Possibly participating in litigation as amici or counsel. 
  • Supervising research/program associates and interns on projects. 

Qualifications: A J.D. degree and admission to the bar is required, as well as a minimum of three years’ legal experience (including clerkship). The ideal candidate will have: 

  • Three to five years’ relevant experience. 
  • Exceptional writing skills for a variety of audiences (including legal, legislative, journalistic, and public). 
  • Outstanding research and analytical skills. 
  • Comfort with public speaking. 
  • Ability to work with media. 
  • Ability to work in coalition with other organizations and with diverse constituencies. 
  • Excellent organizational skills and the ability to juggle tasks in a fast-paced and deadline-driven environment. 
  • Strong initiative and ability to work independently, combined with a “team player” mentality. 
  • Good interpersonal skills and sound judgment, including the ability to work diplomatically and effectively with others both inside and outside the organization. 
  • Resilience, a sense of humor, and a solutions-oriented outlook. 
  • A background in one or more of the following areas: civil liberties and/or national security law; legislative advocacy (or other legislative experience); and litigation. 

Salary: The salary is highly competitive in the field and commensurate with experience. A generous benefits package is available as well. 

Applications:  Applications are due by January 15, but earlier applications will be considered on a rolling basis. To apply, please visit and upload the following application materials: cover letter, resume, two writing samples (up to 10 pages each), and contact information for three references. If you have difficulty with the online system, you may send your application by e-mail to: with “Counsel Position (Liberty and National Security)” in the subject line, after registering in the online system. 

As an equal opportunity affirmative action employer, the Brennan Center is strongly committed to diversity and welcomes applicants of all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations, and applicants who have been previously incarcerated.

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