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Attorney: Democracy Program (NYC or DC)

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. Among our core priorities, we fight to protect voting rights, end mass incarceration, strengthen checks and balances, and preserve Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism. 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 strategies, and we fight for them — in the courts, in Congress and the states, and in the court of public opinion. 

Position: The Brennan Center seeks an exceptional attorney to work in the Democracy Program, which focuses on four key issue areas. On Voting Rights and Elections, we work to ensure that voting is free, fair, and accessible for all American citizens. On Money in Politics, we work to reduce the power of money and special interests in our elections, and to return voters to the center of our democracy by advancing and defending reforms that help create equal political opportunity. On Redistricting, we work to protect the right to vote and prevent manipulation of electoral rules; promote fair, transparent, and participatory redistricting and representation; and prevent the abuse of redistricting for undue partisan gain or to disadvantage minority communities. On Fair Courts, we work to promote and preserve norms of judicial independence and equal justice for all; develop policies that will safeguard courts from special interest influence and political interference while promoting a diverse bench; promote the appropriate role of the courts in constraining government action; and defend against efforts to undermine courts’ legitimacy. 

To advance these goals and protect the rule of law, the attorney’s principal project for the first year will involve an effort to analyze the steady erosion of uncodified norms of governance underpinning our democracy. Together with the Director of the Democracy Program, a Senior Counsel, and other staff, the attorney will collaborate with a leading group of expert thinkers and practitioners to develop legislative and other solutions to shore up these norms. The attorney will then help develop, shape, and lead legal strategies to advance the proposed solutions. The attorney will also be assigned other duties as required to further the goals of the Democracy Program. Reporting to a Senior Counsel in the Democracy Program and working closely with program staff, the attorney will employ a combination of research and scholarship, advocacy, and public communications and education. After the first year, the attorney’s duties will evolve depending on the needs of the Democracy program. 

Responsibilities include: 

  • Collaborating with academics, top legal experts, and allies to work through thorny jurisprudential and policy questions. 
  • Conducting research and writing reports shedding light on the problems in our systems of democracy and proposing policy solutions. 
  • Developing, shaping and helping to lead legal strategies, including strategies to shape the law of democracy. 
  • Contributing to the public debate about democracy through media and communications work, including public speaking engagements, blog posts, op-eds, and conferences. 
  • Advancing legislative and policy advocacy goals at the federal and state levels, counseling federal and state policy makers and advocates, drafting and reviewing legislation, and working in coalition. 
  • May include engaging in appellate and trial court litigation to shape democracy jurisprudence, including work on case development, discovery, motions and briefs, and drafting and coordinating amicus briefs. 

Qualifications:  A J.D. degree and a minimum of four years of legal experience. If located in New York, admission to the New York State Bar, either before or shortly after employment commences.  If located in D.C., admission to the D.C. Bar or authorization to practice law in D.C., either before or shortly after employment commences. 

The ideal candidate will have: 

  • Exceptional writing skills for a variety of audiences (including legal, legislative, journalistic, and public). 
  • Excellent analytic and research skills. 
  • Ability to work effectively in a team-based and deadline-driven environment while maintaining a heavy docket of work. 
  • Ability to effectively coordinate coalitions and groups of experts with strong opinions 
  • Experience in Federal government (Legislative or Executive Branch) preferred. Prior prosecutorial experience or knowledge of Federal rule-making/regulatory process a plus. 
  • Strong organization skills. 
  • Openness to feedback. 
  • Strong strategic thinking skills, and the capacity to conceptualize, develop, execute, and achieve the intended goals 
  • Strong entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the work of the Brennan Center. 
  • Strong public speaking and communications skills. 

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

Applications:  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.  To apply, please visit http://brennancenter.applytojob.com/apply/O3j9HS1ntR/Attorney-Democracy-Program-NYC-Or-DC, and upload the following application materials (preferably in pdf): 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: brennancenterjobs@nyu.edu with “Counsel Position (Democracy)” 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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