Counsel, Liberty and National Security Program (Washington, DC)

$104,856 - $138,173 yearly
  • Brennan Center for Justice
  • Hybrid (Washington D.C., DC, USA)
  • Nov 07, 2022
Full time Legal Nonprofit-Social Services

Job Description

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve the 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 census protection, 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 the courts, in Congress and the states, and the court of public opinion.

The Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program works to advance effective national security policies that respect the rule of law and constitutional values. Our current program priorities include ensuring that Congress and the courts serve their constitutional role as a check on executive power in the area of national security; reforming emergency powers to strengthen safeguards against abuse; ending racial, religious, and ethnic profiling in counterterrorism policies; bolstering First and Fourth Amendment protections in the digital age; promoting targeted and effective responses to far-right violence; and enhancing transparency, oversight, and accountability for intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Position: The Brennan Center seeks an attorney for its Liberty and National Security Program. The position is based in the Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C. office and requires occasional travel to New York City and other locations. The attorney will focus primarily on (1) the Program’s efforts to bolster the role of Congress as a check against executive overreach in the area of emergency powers, and (2) reform of government surveillance practices.  Please note that a background in these substantive areas is not required.

Note: This is a hybrid position. Staff are currently working from home 2 days a week. This position is based in Washington D.C. and will require occasional travel as well.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Engaging in legal and policy research and analysis.
  • Producing written reports and other public education materials.
  • Participating in communications activities such as public speaking engagements, outreach to media and media appearances, op-eds, blog posts, and conferences.
  • Conceiving and planning public events and private convenings.
  • Advancing policy reforms by educating and providing advice to lawmakers, and by working in coalitions and with external stakeholders.
  • Identifying and conducting interviews with relevant subject matter experts.
  • Advising officials, advocates, and activists.
  • Possibly participating in litigation as amicus or counsel.
  • Supervising research/program associates and interns on projects.


Required. A J.D. degree and admission to the bar is required, as well as a minimum of two years’ legal experience (which may include clerkships).

The ideal candidate will have some combination of the following experiences and qualifications. We recognize that many excellent candidates may not have all these experiences and qualifications and we will provide support for the successful candidate to acquire additional skills.

  • Three to five years’ relevant experience as an attorney.
  • Exceptional writing skills for a variety of audiences (including legal, legislative, journalistic, and public).
  • Outstanding research and analytical skills.
  • Comfort with public speaking.
  • Ability to work with media.
  • Ability to work in coalition with other organizations and with diverse constituencies.
  • Excellent organizational skills and the ability to juggle tasks in a fast-paced and deadline-driven environment.
  • Strong initiative and ability to work independently, combined with a “team player” mentality.
  • Good interpersonal skills and sound judgment, including the ability to work diplomatically and effectively with others both inside and outside the organization.
  • Resilience, a sense of humor, and a solutions-oriented outlook.
  • A background in one or more of the following areas: civil liberties, national security, and/or human rights law; legislative advocacy (or other legislative experience); and litigation.

The Brennan Center is committed to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace. We continuously work with our staff to find new ways to increase diversity and to build and cultivate an inclusive and equitable work environment, where everyone can be their true self and feel a strong sense of belonging. As such, we seek to hire employees who have a commitment to and/or experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, we expect employees to participate/contribute with DEI initiatives or activities with recruitment, retention, and workplace culture. 

Applications: Applications are due by December 16, but earlier applications will be considered on a rolling basis. However, a hire will be made as soon as a qualified candidate is identified. To apply, please visit and upload the following application materials as one document: cover letter, resume, two writing samples (up to 10 pages each), and contact information for three references. Applications without all of the previously listed materials will not be considered. If you have difficulty with the online system, you may send your application by e-mail to: with “Counsel, Liberty and National Security Program-DC” in the subject line, after registering in the online system.

Compensation and Benefits:

This is a scaled position. The salary range assigned for the scale is $104,856 - $138,173 and has been determined based on market competitiveness. Each salary in the scale is determined by the number of years of professional experience after graduation from law school of the selected candidate.  Additionally, we offer a very robust and competitive array of benefits such as a generous time off program, 401k plan, comprehensive health insurance (medical, dental, and vision), and wellness and office perks.

In addition, this position is part of a bargaining unit represented by the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW local 2320.

Note: The Brennan Center is committed to public health and to the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and visitors.  As such, we have adopted a policy requiring all employees working in the New York and Washington, DC offices to be vaccinated against COVID-19, including having a booster, or to meet the legal guidelines for an exemption.

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

  • Welcomes and hires applicants of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, socioeconomic identities and sexual orientations, including people 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 
  • Is committed to supporting low-income communities and communities of color particularly affected by social inequities.