Senior Litigation Counsel & Litigation Counsel (two positions)

Washington, DC

About the New Civil Liberties Alliance:

Founded by law professor Philip Hamburger, the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) is a nonprofit, public interest law firm, which engages in pro bono litigation to defend the liberty established by the Constitution.  NCLA focuses primarily on fighting administrative power and conditions on spending where they systematically threaten constitutional freedoms, including the freedom of speech, jury-trial rights, and due process.  Rather than resist administrative power each and every place where it threatens substantive rights and interests—that is, instead of always playing defense—NCLA will target key administrative mechanisms that repeatedly and broadly threaten constitutionally protected rights.  For example, NCLA will oppose Chevron and Auer deference to administrative agencies—doctrines that threaten judicial independence and unbiased judgment.  Coordinating its efforts with other civil rights groups, NCLA will pursue strategic litigation that promises to curtail the administrative state’s threat to civil liberties.

Description of the roles:

NCLA seeks experienced trial counsel on an ongoing basis who share its passion for restoring constitutional constraints on the administrative state.  NCLA litigators must be deeply committed to NCLA’s mission and possess sufficient experience and wherewithal to run their assigned cases without substantial staffing assistance.  Although NCLA anticipates hiring litigation support staff soon, our attorneys will need to be comfortable handling all aspects of litigation on their own whenever necessary.

These positions offer a unique opportunity to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from a position in a civil liberties organization.  If getting in on the ground floor of a new constitutional litigation shop, helping to get its litigating capability up and running, and saving liberty from federal encroachment sounds like a challenge you would enjoy, NCLA may be a good fit for you.

In addition to handling their own caseloads, from the filing of a complaint through any necessary appeals, NCLA’s litigators will be expected to participate in media presentations about their cases, to help devise strategic litigation plans, to identify viable litigation opportunities, and to participate in making decisions about which cases the organization will bring.  Filing and pursuing original litigation, including by suing federal departments or agencies directly in courts of appeals where possible, will be the mainstay of NCLA’s litigation docket.  NCLA’s clients will be individuals who have standing to pursue a case and/or individuals who are fending off an administrative enforcement action that has broader significance.

These hires should be able to work with minimal direct supervision, while proactively seeking executive input if the situation warrants it.  Both positions will report to NCLA’s Executive Director and General Counsel, Mark Chenoweth.  However, as the litigation team grows over time with the rest of the organization, Senior Counsel will assume additional supervisory responsibilities over junior attorneys.


Requirements for the Senior Counsel role:

  • Passion and support for the organization’s mission and an ability to articulate that mission persuasively

  • Eight or more years of active trial litigation experience in complex cases, including first-chair trial experience, preferably in federal court; experience litigating the kinds of cases NCLA will be bringing strongly preferred, including experience suing the federal government or defending against such cases as a government attorney

  • A demonstrated capacity for identifying strategic litigation opportunities and taking innovative approaches

  • Strong leadership skills; ability to exercise good judgment, work independently, and delegate assignments

Requirements for the Counsel role:

  • Passion and support for the organization’s mission and an ability to articulate that mission persuasively

  • Four or more years of active trial litigation experience, including complex case-management experience, preferably in federal court; experience litigating the kinds of cases NCLA will be bringing strongly preferred, including experience suing the federal government or defending against such cases as a government attorney

  • Ability to exercise good judgment, work independently on complex matters, and delegate appropriate work

Requirements for both roles:

  • Excellent fact discovery, legal research, analytical, writing, copyediting, and oral advocacy skills

  • Enthusiasm and high energy suitable to the challenge of getting a new organization off the ground

  • Top-notch interpersonal skills and demonstrated capability to develop a strong rapport with clients

  • Excellent organizational and time-management skills; ability to multi-task and always track and meet deadlines; detail oriented and able to prioritize tasks effectively

  • JD required; top-tier law school preferred; Member in good standing of the DC bar preferred, but immediate eligibility to waive into DC is the minimum requirement

  • Federal appellate, federal district court, or state supreme court clerkship preferred

  • Previous experience in setting up new litigation office or with a similar transition is a plus, but not expected

  • Previous experience managing projects in public policy and non-profit industry a plus, but not expected

  • Previous experience handling cases that garner significant media attention a plus, but not expected

  • Law journal experience and/or previous experience writing op-eds, blog posts, etc. a plus


Responsibilities for the Senior Counsel role:

  • Assisting the Exec. Dir./Gen. Counsel in planning the litigation budget and ensuring adherence to that budget

  • Leading and motivating junior attorneys, developing their ability to take on more responsibilities

  • Ensuring quality control for all of NCLA’s litigation work product

  • Seeking out opportunities to bring strategic litigation in support of the organization’s mission

Responsibilities for both roles:

  • Developing cases from scratch and managing them through to a successful resolution

  • Interviewing potential clients; conducting discovery, taking depositions, drafting interrogatories, mastering the record, doing legal research, engaging in motion practice, handling confidential information properly, etc.

  • Preparing initial drafts of written correspondence, pleadings, and briefs

  • Providing sound strategic advice grounded in the relevant evidence and applicable law

  • Appearing in court for status updates, case conferences, evidentiary hearings, to argue motions, and to represent clients at trial; Representing clients before quasi-judicial or administrative agencies

  • Negotiating settlements/other resolution with federal agency defendants in conjunction with General Counsel

  • Advising clients of their legal rights and keeping them informed about significant developments in their cases

  • Supervising the work of junior attorneys; assisting on colleagues’ cases like a good teammate where your expertise is relevant and/or additional help is needed; participating fully in annual HR evaluation process

  • Working with NCLA’s Communications Director to implement any communications strategy associated with your clients and cases

  • Acting as a spokesperson as appropriate on issues related to NCLA or its clients’ cases; participating in media training and other prep in advance of any media appearances; giving media interviews

  • Helping the communications (and other) staff understand the issues in your cases and how they relate to NCLA’s mission; further helping them to anticipate likely questions, shape key messages to deliver, and ensure the accuracy of NCLA’s media efforts

  • Working closely with communications staff to craft public-relations strategy for each case that advances NCLA’s overall mission;

  • Working all media contacts through the Communications Director

  • Mentoring staff; instilling professionalism and promoting culture of hard work, fun, challenge, and reward  

  • Drafting op-eds, blog posts, talking points, and other public advocacy pieces in support of NCLA’s mission and cases; accepting speaking engagements in support of same (all in consultation with NCLA leadership)

  • Supporting the development team’s efforts to describe cases and outcomes to donors and potential donors

  • Traveling as necessary in support of litigation efforts

Total compensation for these positions is market-driven, competitive with other nonprofit legal organizations, and based on a candidate’s level of experience.  It will include health care, PTO, federal holidays, and other benefits.


Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.  Qualified candidates should submit the following application materials:

  • Résumé

  • A cover letter detailing your:

    • interest in/passion for NCLA’s mission

    • which position you are interested in and why

    • how your experience relates to the requirements and responsibilities of this role

    • complete list of bar memberships (if not already on your résumé)

    • salary requirements

  • Two writing samples of publicly filed legal papers that accurately reflect your legal writing abilities in active litigation practice; one or more samples of either popular or academic writing that you think relevant to NCLA

  • References appreciated but not required at this stage

Please include “Sr. Lit. Counsel, NCLA – Your Name” or “Lit. Counsel, NCLA – Your Name” in the subject line of your email. Materials should be emailed in one PDF document to Lauren Skiver with Talent Market, who is assisting with the search:

While we thank all applicants in advance for their interest in this position, we are only able to contact those to whom we can offer an interview. No phone calls, please.  Please do not apply for these roles unless you are an experienced litigator.