Position Overview

The ACLU of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) seeks a licensed attorney for the position of staff attorney.  The staff attorney will participate in both litigation and non-litigation advocacy activities to advance civil liberties and civil rights in Tennessee. The staff attorney will work under the direction of the ACLU of Tennessee’s legal director to help develop and litigate cases at the trial and appellate level in state and federal courts on a wide variety of civil rights and civil liberties issues.

The staff attorney will be expected to develop a docket of cases and take a lead role in their litigation as well as support the legal director in other cases.  In addition, the staff attorney will have non-litigation advocacy responsibilities including public speaking.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Participate directly in litigating civil liberties and civil rights cases in federal and state court, either as co-counsel or, when appropriate, as lead counsel.
  • Conduct factual and legal research, prepare memoranda, draft Open Records Act requests, write demand letters, draft pleadings and motions, and help write appellate and amicus briefs.
  • Manage the discovery process for complex civil litigation, including preparing discovery requests and responses, analyzing documents, and taking and defending depositions.
  • Monitor litigation being handled by cooperating attorneys and provide assistance as needed.
  • Help assess requests for legal assistance and identify appropriate cases for legal challenge that come through our Intake program.
  • Develop and maintain working relationships with the legal staff at the national ACLU, its projects, and other affiliates and collaborate on litigation and investigations that arise in Tennessee.
  • Review, comment, and edit letters and briefs of co-counsel and other ACLU-TN staff.
  • Support the work of the legal director, as needed.

Secondary Responsibilities

  • Engage in advocacy work to advance civil rights through non-litigation means such as writing public comments, public speaking, and public-education efforts.
  • Work with ACLU-TN staff to implement integrated advocacy campaigns and high-impact strategies utilizing ACLU-TN’s communication, legislative, advocacy, and legal programs.
  • Perform other duties as assigned by the legal director.


The staff attorney will work within the Legal Department under the direct supervision of ACLU-TN’s legal director. The staff attorney may also work on assignments with other departments, as needed.


  • D. from a law school with excellent academic achievement.
  • At least two years of civil litigation, with a preferred emphasis in complex civil litigation, civil rights or constitutional law.
  • Admitted to the Tennessee Bar (candidates who are eligible to immediately apply for admission to the Tennessee Bar will be considered).
  • A strong understanding of, and demonstrated commitment to, civil liberties, civil rights, and the ACLU mission. Experience in non-profit advocacy or other community-based groups is valuable.
  • Exceptional writing and analytical skills are required. Judicial clerkships and/or experience litigating federal civil rights and civil liberties cases are a plus.
  • Demonstrated skills in legal analysis, research, and strategic thinking.
  • Substantive knowledge and understanding of constitutional law and civil liberties issues.
  • Demonstrated skills in working independently, collaboratively, and under pressure.
  • Excellent communication skills as to both legal and non-legal audiences.
  • Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively on a variety of projects with lawyers, other staff members, and with community organizations and coalitions.
  • A commitment to diversity and a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, ability, and socioeconomic circumstance.
  • Creative, result-oriented, self-starter who is able to manage an aggressive schedule
  • Ability to speak other languages is a plus.

Personal Characteristics

Ideally, the successful candidate will be the following:

  • Personally committed to advancing the ACLU-TN’s values, mission, goals, and programs, with an understanding of the range of civil liberties issues and their implications.
  • Flexible, well-organized, reliable, creative, and energetic.
  • Able to handle and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities.
  • An absolute commitment to the highest ethical and professional standards.
  • A team player who is comfortable working in a small, tight-knit office environment.
  • Willing to go above and beyond the job description.
  • Willing to travel for trainings, meetings, speaking engagements and outreach and willing to work in the evenings and on weekends when necessary.
  • Possess a well-developed sense of humor to maintain perspective and balance.


Competitive salary based on experience with excellent benefits, including health and dental insurance and a 401(k) plan.

Application Procedure

Please submit in PDF form, via email, a detailed letter of interest, resume, law school transcript, legal writing sample, and contact information for three references by Friday, October 4, 2019, to jobs@aclu-tn.org with the subject line “Staff Attorney Application.”

Applications will be accepted and reviewed until the position is filled.  Qualified candidates may be asked to submit additional information, including performance samples and references from people they have worked with in the past.  In your letter of interest, please indicate how you learned about the position.


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