Legal Fellow

American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee | Flexible, Tennessee

Job Summary

The ACLU of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) seeks a licensed attorney for the position of Legal Fellow.  The Legal Fellow will participate in both litigation and non-litigation advocacy activities to advance civil liberties and civil rights in Tennessee. The Legal Fellow 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 Legal Fellow 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 Legal Fellow will have non-litigation advocacy responsibilities including public speaking and outreach. This is a two-year position with the possibility of an additional year. 

Reports To

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


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 briefs, and help write appellate and amicus briefs.
  • Handle discovery matters and depositions, including preparing discovery requests and responses, analyzing documents, and taking and defending depositions.
  • Monitor litigation being handled by cooperating attorneys and providing assistance as needed.
  • 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

  • Advocate for civil liberties and represent the ACLU-TN at events, speaking engagements, public forums, CLEs and in coalitions, as appropriate.
  • Communicate effectively with print and visual media concerning litigation as well as important constitutional issues.
  • 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.


  • J.D. from an accredited law school with excellent academic achievement.
  • At least two years of civil litigation or federal court clerkship experience, with a preferred emphasis in 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.
  • 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.


This is a two-year position with a competitive salary and excellent benefits, including health and dental insurance and a 401(k) plan.

How to Apply

Please submit in digital form, via email, a detailed letter of interest, resume, law school transcript, legal writing sample, and contact information for three references by June 30, 2017, to with the subject line “Legal Fellow 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.

The target start date for this two-year position is on or before September 15, 2017, but a different start date may be negotiable. In your letter of interest, please indicate how you learned about the position.

American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee