July 31, 2021

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (“ACLU-PA”) invites rising third-year law students and recent law graduates, including individuals completing judicial clerkships, to apply to work with us as a Legal Fellow for up to two years in support of our work on immigrants’ rights. The position will be based in our Philadelphia office. 

This Legal Fellow position will be a project-based fellowship, and the selected applicant will work with ACLU-PA to seek funding from public interest fellowship organizations such as Skadden, Equal Justice Works, or the Independence Foundation. Applicants should set forth project ideas in their application materials that are consistent both with the current immigrants’ rights work of the ACLU of Pennsylvania as well as the needs of impacted communities in Pennsylvania. Such proposals should articulate a vision for what the project will look like and how it will accomplish its goals in the two-year timeframe. Our staff, and particularly the Immigrants Rights’ Attorney who will supervise this position, will work with candidates to develop their proposals for submission, helping tailor the proposal to address an important civil liberties issue. Proposed projects often combine litigation and advocacy with community outreach and public education.  

Our immigrants’ rights work has focused on due process, unfair detention, equal treatment, and state and local laws and policies hostile to immigrants. For example, we have challenged racial and ethnic profiling by state and local police connected to immigration enforcement; indefinite and mandatory detention; immigration detainers; the detention of medically vulnerable people during COVID-19; and, fought for government transparency by state and federal agencies. 

The ACLU-PA’s Legal Department is comprised of ten lawyers, including legal fellows. Legal Department staff work on a wide range of civil rights and civil liberties cases, at both trial and appellate levels, in federal and state courts. They also support the legislative, advocacy, and communications work of the ACLU-PA.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Vision Statement

The ACLU-PA affirmatively values the humanity and contributions of those we work with, inside and outside of the organization, and will take action to build and sustain an equitable, anti-racist culture that centers the voices and experiences of marginalized and directly impacted people and communities, and an organizational environment where all people feel valued, trusted, and respected. We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and having a workforce that reflects the populations that we serve; we actively recruit people of color, women, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, and LGBQ&T and gender non-conforming people.

The Approach

Our work is guided by the principles of freedom, equality, and justice enumerated in the Constitution. However, we understand that systemic racism and other forms of oppression have prevented the equitable application of these principles to all, and we strive to ensure that our approach accounts for this reality. We also acknowledge that demands of the work as well as the challenging subject matter it often involves take a toll. While we know that the path of this work is long and hard, we also value the importance of personal wellbeing. To that end, we endeavor to cultivate a culture that is supportive and sustainable and promotes taking care of oneself.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Work with staff to develop a fellowship project to advance immigrants’ rights through litigation and advocacy

  • Identify and develop new litigation and other advocacy projects by conducting factual, legal, and strategic analysis and devising relevant theories and materials
  • Litigate immigrants’ rights cases, including legal research; fact development; working with clients; drafting pleadings, briefs and legal memoranda; engaging in discovery and motion practice; and, conducting evidentiary hearings and oral arguments in the trial and appellate courts
  • Work to develop public education and other advocacy materials on immigrants’ rights
  • Articulate ACLU-PA views to a variety of audiences, through public speaking, traditional and social media, and other means
  • Work with ACLU-PA legislative and policy advocates and campaigners to advance ACLU-PA’s goals on immigration
  • Work with and advise partner organizations on immigrants’ rights issues
  • Help manage our summer legal internship program and supervise student interns
  • Travel as required for litigation, conferences, and other advocacy opportunities, consistent with public health guidance on COVID-19
  • Engage in special projects and other duties as assigned
  • Center principles of equity, inclusion, and belonging in all work, embedding the values in program development, policy application, and organizational practices and processes
  • Commitment to the mission of ACLU-PA
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion using a personal approach that values all individuals and respects differences in regards to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, disability and socio-economic circumstance
  • Commitment to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts


While no one person will have all of the qualifications enumerated below, the successful candidate should have many of the following: 


  • J.D. or expected to receive a J.D by the spring of 2022 from an ABA accredited law school
  • Membership in the Pennsylvania Bar or eligibility to be admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar or sit for the next available Pennsylvania Bar examination and pass within twelve months
  • Demonstrated commitment to and familiarity with public interest law, civil liberties, immigrants’ rights, and racial and social justice issues
  • Willingness to work closely with the ACLU-PA through the funding application process
  • Excellent research, writing, and verbal communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a proven ability to work independently as well as within a team
  • Self-motivated with the ability to take initiative, manage a variety of tasks, and see projects through to completion
  • Fluency in Spanish and other relevant foreign languages (written and spoken) is preferred, but not required
  • Direct personal or professional experience with communities impacted by systemic bias or economic exclusion

Compensation & Benefits

We are committed to creating and maintaining a diverse workforce through equity initiatives, which includes equitable pay practices. Competitive compensation is commensurate with experience. If the position receives funding from a public interest fellowship organization, the he salary for the Legal Fellow will be $60,000. Excellent benefits include generous vacation and sick leave; individual/family employer-provided health and dental insurance; life insurance and long-term disability; defined contribution plan with employer match; and 10 paid holidays. This position is full-time, salaried, and exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Application Procedure 

Applications will be accepted until July 31, 2021. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible. 

Applications must include (1) a resume, (2) in lieu of a cover letter, responses to a short questionnaire (see instructions below), (3) a writing sample; and (4) at least two references. E-mail your application materials with a subject line of “Immigrant Rights’ Legal Fellow – [last name].” Application materials sent via postal mail or fax or to an individual staff member will not be accepted. No calls, please. 

For the questionnaire, in no more than two pages (single spaced, size 12 font), please answer the following questions: (1) one or more project ideas; (2) why you are the right person to do the proposed project(s) (and more generally, work to advance and protect immigrants’ rights); (3) what relevant experience do you bring; and (4) why would you like to do this fellowship project with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, rather than at another civil rights organization in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. 

The ACLU of Pennsylvania advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to support a work environment free from discrimination on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (over 40), sexual orientation, military and veteran status, and any other basis prohibited by law. The organization also provides reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. This equal employment opportunity policy applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, selection, advancement, training, problem resolution, and separation from employment. Through this policy, the ACLU-PA strives to establish and maintain an equitable and accessible work environment that is free from discrimination and supportive of a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of our communities and the people we serve.


Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, and no later than July 31, at which time the job announcement will be removed from our website,

About the ACLU of Pennsylvania

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization that serves as an enduring guardian of justice, fairness, and freedom, working to protect civil liberties and advance equity for all.

ACLU-PA defends and promotes the fundamental principles and values protected by the constitutions of the United States and of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as by national, state and local civil rights laws. For more than 100 years, the ACLU has sought in particular to protect and expand the freedoms of expression, belief and association; voting rights; the separation of church and state; the right to privacy, including reproductive freedom; due process of law, including the rights of the accused and of immigrants; limitations on the power of police; limitations on the power of police; and the right to equal protection for all marginalized individuals and groups. In advancing these rights, ACLU-PA strives always to acknowledge and remedy the pervasive and persistent harms of systemic racism.

Integrating litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, organizing, and communications, ACLU-PA’s staff and volunteers work both independently and in coalition with those most affected by the issues we address to ensure that threats to liberty and the civil rights of all persons in Pennsylvania are met with stark resistance as we progress toward a more genuine multiracial, multicultural democracy.

ACLU-PA’s hiring process will comply with Philadelphia’s Fair Criminal Records Screening Standards (“Ban the Box”) ordinance.


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