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Fellow, Census Litigation and Advocacy, Democracy Program

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve systems of democracy and justice in the United States. 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 campaign finance 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 we fight for them – in Congress and the states, in the courts, and in the court of public opinion. 

The Brennan Center’s Democracy Program strives to bring the ideal of representative self-government closer to reality, including through work to protect the right to vote and ensure fair redistricting practices. The Democracy Program advances its goals through work on a variety of fronts, including: publishing path-breaking legal, empirical, qualitative, and historical research; litigating cutting-edge issues in courts throughout the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court; guiding legislative reform efforts at the state and federal levels; and shaping public opinion through frequent public presentations and media appearances. 

Position: The Brennan Center’s Democracy Program seeks an attorney for a two-year fellowship that will focus on legal strategy, litigation and advocacy to protect the 2020 Census. The position will be based in the Brennan Center’s New York office and will require occasional travel to Washington, D.C. and other locations. The Census Litigation and Advocacy Fellow will report to the Senior Counsel who leads our redistricting and representation team. 

The census touches virtually every aspect of American life, including our democratic institutions, our voting rights, and our political voices. A fair and accurate census is vital to ensuring that congressional seats are apportioned properly among the states, that our electoral districts are drawn fairly, and that all people—regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, or national origin—are represented in our federal, state, and local governments. Yet, heading into 2020, the census is in danger, threatened by efforts to politicize the census count, underfunding, and dramatic changes to census format (including moving the census online for the first time). These developments particularly endanger the ability of vulnerable communities, including communities of color, immigrants, and the poor, to participate in the census. 

The Brennan Center is working to protect the census through a mix of legal and advocacy initiatives, empirical research, and communications campaigns. The Census Litigation and Advocacy Fellow will help advance the Center’s census efforts in collaboration with the Democracy Program’s senior leadership and members of the Program’s redistricting team. 


  • Conducting legal and policy research and analysis. 
  • Advising senior program staff and allied organizations on litigation and advocacy strategy. 
  • Participating as counsel in litigation at both the trial and appellate level. 
  • Undertaking and reviewing legal and factual research in support of litigation, advocacy, and communications initiatives. 
  • Supervising research by clinic students, interns, pro bono counsel, and program associates. 
  • Attending regular meetings and convenings of census experts. 
  • Assist in building and maintaining a coalition of allied organizations, experts, grassroots groups. 
  • Producing public-facing writing on census issues and participating in public talks on census matters. 
  • Mentoring junior employees. 

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

  • Three to five years of relevant experience in legal work environments (including clerkships). 
  • A background in one or more of the following areas: administrative law; constitutional law; federal privacy law; civil rights law; federal civil litigation. 
  • The ability to work well with a variety of constituencies, including civil rights organizations, grassroots organizers, community advocates, and government offices. 
  • Exemplary writing, research, and analytical skills. 
  • Excellent organizational skills and the ability to juggle multiple tasks in a fast-paced and deadline-driven environment. 
  • Polished interpersonal skills and sound judgment, including the ability to work with diverse constituencies both inside and outside the organization. 
  • Comfort with public speaking. 
  • Prior experience working with civil-rights organizations or other public interest organizations a plus. 

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

Applications: Applicants will be interviewed on a rolling basis and decisions will be made as soon as exemplary candidates are identified. To apply, visit Please upload the following application materials: cover letter (copy and paste where indicated), resume, two writing samples (up to 10 pages each), and contact information for three references. No phone calls or faxes. Please reference where you saw this posting. 

If you have difficulty with the online system, you may send your application by e-mail to: with “Census Fellow” in the subject line, after registering in the online system. Applying through our website is strongly preferred. 

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: 

  • Hires staff that reflects this country's full range of racial, ethnic, cultural, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic identity; 
  • Considers and hires applicants who have been previously incarcerated; 
  • 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 
  • Commits to supporting low-income communities and communities of color particularly affected by social inequities.
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