Counsel, Democracy 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. The Brennan Center’s work ranges from voting rights to court reform, from ending mass incarceration to preserving constitutional protections in the fight against terrorism. Part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge communications hub, we start with rigorous research. We craft innovative policies and legal arguments. And we fight for them—in the courts, in Congress and the states, and in the court of public opinion.
The Brennan Center seeks a talented attorney to join our Democracy Program, which seeks to expand access to the franchise, counter political entrenchment, respond to regressive jurisprudence, and reform our courts and other democratic institutions, through litigation, legal strategy development, policy campaigns, and strategic communications.
In recent years, the federal courts have taken an extreme rightward turn, overruling significant precedents and issuing new anti-democracy decisions. To justify these radical developments, the courts—led by the United States Supreme Court—have invoked widely criticized originalist theories of constitutional interpretation that limit the scope of our rights to eighteenth-century values.
The attorney will join an interdisciplinary team the Brennan Center has created to combat these and related problems, which are undermining our democracy and our constitutional rights. Their work will support, among other things: the Brennan Center’s collaborations with historians to counter the use of originalism in judicial decision making; our efforts to develop strong guarantees for individual rights under state constitutions; and our campaign to reform the U.S. Supreme Court.
Working with senior program staff, the attorney will conduct legal, historical, policy, and empirical research, contribute to reports, scholarship, and popular writing, work with coalition partners, and draft or organize amicus briefs. Over the course of their tenure, the attorney’s work may evolve to address other emergent issues challenging the rule of law, the security of our elections, and our democratic system of government.
Note: Staff are currently working in the office 3 days a week. This position is based at our headquarters in New York City and may require occasional travel.
Responsibilities may include:
- Engaging in legal, historical, policy, and empirical research and drafting memoranda and legal scholarship.
- Tracking litigation, analyzing opinions, and drafting or organizing amicus briefs.
- Helping organize and support convenings, legal strategy meetings, and scholarly symposia.
- Advancing organizational goals through media and public communications, including, as appropriate, opinion pieces, blog posts, media appearances, and participation in conferences.
- Managing junior staff, as appropriate, and contributing to productive and collegial work within the team and across departments, including administration, recruitment, communications, and development.
Required. The position requires a J.D. and admission to the New York State bar (or admission within one year of being hired).
Ideal. The ideal candidate will have some combination of the following experiences and qualifications. We recognize that many excellent candidates may not have all these–we will provide support for the successful candidate to acquire additional skills. We hope that you will apply if you believe you can excel in our organization and our program.
- A minimum of three years of legal experience, including clerkships.
- A commitment to civil rights and racial equity.
- Excellent legal research and analysis skills.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills, including a strong ability and desire to write for legal, academic, and public audiences.
- A creative, problem-solving mindset with demonstrated ability to turn ideas into products or actions.
- Strong organizational skills and the ability to prioritize and delegate effectively in a fast-paced environment.
- Strong interpersonal skills and sound judgment, including the ability to work with diverse constituencies both inside and outside the organization, and openness to feedback.
- Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Brennan Center is committed to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace. We continuously work with our staff to find new ways to increase diversity and to build and cultivate an inclusive and equitable work environment, where everyone can be their true self and feel a strong sense of belonging. As such, we seek to hire employees who have a commitment to and/or experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, we expect employees to participate/contribute with DEI initiatives or activities with recruitment, retention, and workplace culture.
Position Start Date: Spring-Summer 2023
Application: To apply, please visit [this link] and upload the following documents: (1) a cover letter, (2) resume, (3) one writing sample (up to 10 pages), and (4) contact information for three references. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, and decisions will be made as soon as an appropriate candidate is identified. We prefer applications to be submitted through our website. If you have difficulty uploading these items as one document, e-mail them to email@example.com with “Counsel, Democracy and Judiciary Programs” in the subject line.
Compensation and Benefits:
This is a scaled position. The salary range assigned for the scale is $104,856 - $138,173 and has been determined based on market competitiveness. Each salary in the scale is determined by the number of years of professional experience after graduation from law school of the selected candidate. Additionally, we offer a very robust and competitive array of benefits such as a generous time off program, 401k plan, comprehensive health insurance (medical, dental, and vision), and wellness and office perks.
In addition, this position is part of a bargaining unit represented by the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW local 2320.
Note: The Brennan Center is committed to public health and to the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and visitors. As such, we have adopted a policy requiring all employees working in the New York and Washington, DC offices to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to meet the legal guidelines for an exemption.
The Brennan Center for Justice is committed to a workplace based on equal opportunity and a strong belief in the increased effectiveness that comes from a diverse workforce. To this end, Brennan Center
- Welcomes applicants with disabilities and applicants of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, socioeconomic identities, sexual orientations, and national origin or citizenship, including people who have been previously incarcerated;
- Hires diverse candidates and works to improve our recruitment practices to allow for such
- Creates a workplace where true diversity is fostered and different perspectives are valued and freely exchanged;
- Ensures that all members of the Brennan Center community feel welcome and respected, and have equal opportunities to thrive and advance within the institution; and
- Is committed to supporting low-income communities and communities of color particularly affected by social inequities.