The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Legal Director Opening at Institute for Free Speech


I am happy to pass along this job announcement.

The Institute for Free Speech anticipates the need for a highly experienced attorney to direct its litigation and legal advocacy. In September, President Trump announced the nomination of our longtime Legal Director to the Federal Election Commission and it is likely he would be confirmed this fall. Once the hearing for that nomination is officially announced, the Institute for Free Speech will move forward with interviewing applicants.

About the Institute for Free Speech:

Founded in 2005 by former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley A. Smith, the nonpartisan Institute for Free Speech promotes and defends First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government.

Our specialty is the regulation of political activity. Our legal work primarily challenges campaign finance and lobbying laws that restrict First Amendment rights. We also represent clients in First Amendment challenges to laws that limit speech about government, and we engage publicly on the full range of First Amendment-protected activity.

The Opportunity to Lead Our Legal Team:

This is a rare opportunity to develop and implement a long-term legal strategy directed toward the protection of Constitutional rights. You would work to create legal precedents clearing away a thicket of laws and regulations that suppress speech about government and candidates for political office, that threaten citizens' privacy if they speak or join groups, and that impose heavy burdens on organized political activity.

The litigation and legal advocacy you would oversee comprises about half of our program activities. The other half consists of traditional think tank work such as research, education, communications, and external relations.

The Legal Director Opening:

The Legal Director will direct our litigation and legal advocacy, lead our in-house legal team, and manage and expand our network of volunteer attorneys.

The Legal Director must have extensive litigation experience and a broad background in legal advocacy. Ideally the Legal Director will have deep First Amendment or constitutional law expertise. Familiarity with campaign finance or lobbying law is a significant plus. The Legal Director will work with senior management to set organizational priorities. The position reports directly to our President.

As a senior legal position with a leading nonprofit organization, it requires substantial travel (post-pandemic, we estimate 10-20% for the DC-based Legal Director), significant working hours, and the ability to act autonomously.

A strong preference will be given to candidates who can work in our Washington, D.C. headquarters. However, we will consider exceptionally strong candidates living and working virtually from anywhere in the country. In addition to litigation-related or advocacy-related travel, a virtual candidate would be required to travel for regular week-long visits to IFS's headquarters after the pandemic's impact has receded.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Develop and implement priorities for the legal program, including non-litigation legal work to protect free speech.
  • Identify and develop litigation opportunities to expand free speech.
  • Oversee all litigation and legal advocacy, supervising a team that presently includes seven attorneys, with plans to grow. Legal advocacy includes testimony before Congress and state legislatures, and appearances in rulemakings and adjudications before the Federal Election Commission and other federal and state agencies.
  • Recruit new members of the legal team and oversee the team's professional development.
  • Recruit volunteer attorneys to write amicus briefs, participate in litigation, or engage in other legal advocacy.
  • Serve as counsel of record in our most important cases.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with allied public interest law organizations.
  • Serve as a media spokesperson and as a speaker at conferences and meetings held by other organizations.
  • Advise our communications team on articles and publications covering our litigation and legal advocacy.

Professional Requirements and Qualifications:

  • Passion for our mission to defend and expand political speech rights.
  • At least 10 years of active trial litigation experience in complex cases, with proven first-chair experience in federal court. Federal clerkships may substitute up to two years of that experience.
  • Proven innovator.
  • Strong leadership skills and a proven ability to exercise sound judgement.
  • Meticulously organized and detail-oriented approach to work product, and a demonstrated ability to work collaboratively in a fast-paced environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines, and work long hours when required.
  • Strong verbal and interpersonal skills, exceptional writing ability, and an ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Demonstrated understanding of civil rights and civil liberties issues, particularly in the areas of campaign finance regulation and associational privacy, is a significant plus.
  • Membership in good standing of a state bar, and eligibility for admission to the bar of the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court.