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Senior Policy Counsel, Justice Division

American Civil Liberties Union

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Job Details

Location: University of California Washington Center, 1608, Rhode Island Avenue Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, 20036, USA Posted: Mar 27, 2023

Job Description


The ACLU seeks applicants for the full-time position of Senior Policy Counsel in the National Political Advocacy Department of the ACLU’s National office in Washington, DC .

The National Political Advocacy Department (NPAD) works to strengthen the efforts of the ACLU at the federal, state, and local levels of government. The department harnesses the political power that comes from having more than eight million members and supporters, as well as affiliates in every state. By organizing grassroots lobbying and issue campaigns using modern tactics, the ACLU seeks to achieve change as profound in the legislative, administrative and electoral arenas as it has accomplished through
the courts.

Reporting to the Deputy Division Director , the Senior Policy Counsel will immediately be able to support current strategic policy campaigns. The Senior Policy Counsel will be able to recommend policy options which include outcomes that align with ACLU values and strategies to minimize opposition to those desired outcomes.


  • As advocate and policy and/or legal expert, identify opportunities to advance civil liberties and civil rights in complex policy areas through multiple methods at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Develop strategic legislative and administrative policy options.
  • Independently develop novel ideas and approaches to solving problems, in addition to sourcing existing policy ideas and approaches to civil liberties challenges.
  • Independently draft bills and/or administrative rules/regulations at the state, local, or federal levels, providing content expertise as well as legislative and regulatory drafting knowledge.
  • Prepare, provide guidance on and/or deliver testimony on pending legislation before Congressional committees or federal regulatory agencies and other legislative or regulatory bodies at the state and
    local/municipal levels, as relevant.
  • Lobby elected officials, their staff, and other public officials to support ACLU positions on pending legislation and policy initiatives.
  • Provide legislative counseling, including policy, legislative or legal analysis, strategic planning guidance, and tactical suggestions, to ACLU affiliates to support state and/or locally-based efforts.
  • Coordinate and conduct in-depth civil liberties briefings for government officials as pertinent to advancing priority ACLU positions.
  • Help coordinate strategy designed to reach campaign goals or other policy/political outcomes across ACLU departments, ACLU affiliates, and coalition partners.
  • Work with campaign strategists and organizers in NPAD to advance campaign goals or other policy and political outcomes.
  • Work with ACLU affiliates, as relevant, in advocacy efforts in furtherance of policy outcomes.
  • Participate as the ACLU representative in meetings of ad hoc lobbying and policy and/or political coalitions.
  • In collaboration with ACLU Communications staff, provide expert commentary to media, participate in media briefings, and contribute to op-eds and other publications, as relevant.
  • Collaborate with other ACLU national and affiliate staff and representatives of coalition allies.
  • Organize, lead, and work with outside groups to bolster support for ACLU policy goals or to minimize opposition to those goals.
  • Coordinate efforts across the organization including legal staff, communications staff, strategists, and affiliates around the country to keep them abreast of and enlist their support for relevant portfolio of
    priority issues.
  • May provide senior-level guidance to other policy staff and interns.

In addition to:

  • 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 the ACLU
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity within the office 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


  • Advanced degree (J.D., M.P.P.) or substantial equivalent training and experience in policy analysis, advocacy, or campaigns strongly preferred
  • Prior lobbying experience strongly preferred
  • Significant experience working in political, policy, legal, or government settings; high degree of familiarity with public policy and legislative, administrative and/or electoral processes.
  • Sophisticated judgment; experience giving advice and counsel to a principal
  • High level, substantive, and extensive experience in policy development
  • Demonstrated expertise in one or more areas or fields of specialty covered by the ACLU
  • Ability to work independently as well as within a team
  • Experience with media and serving as a spokesperson for an issue, campaign, or cause; ability to communicate complex policy issues to a general public and government decisionmakers
  • Excellent interpersonal, relationship building and communication skills, including at the highest levels of government and politics
  • Excellent research, writing, analytical, and communication skills.
  • Ability to communicate complex legal and policy issues to government decision makers, and the general public; expertise in field of policy
  • Ability to work and communicate quickly and accurately, handling multiple projects and deliverables under pressure


The ACLU values equity , transparency, and clarity in pay. Consistent with the ACLU’s compensation philosophy, there is a set salary for this role. The annual salary for this position is $143,943 (Level E), reflective of a position based in New York, NY, where our National offices are headquartered . This salary will be subject to a locality adjustment (according to a specific city and state), if an authorization is granted to work outside of the location listed in this posting.


The ACLU dares to create a more perfect union – beyond one person, party, or side. Our mission is to realize this promise of the United States Constitution for all and expand the reach of its guarantees.

For over 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Whether it’s ending mass incarceration, achieving full equality for the LGBTQ+ community, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion are core values of the ACLU and central to our work to advance liberty, equality, and justice for all. We are a community committed to learning and growth, humility and grace, transparency and accountability. We believe in a collective responsibility to create a culture of belonging for all people within our organization – one that respects and embraces difference; treats everyone equitably; and empowers our colleagues to do the best work possible. We are as committed to anti-oppression and anti-racism internally as we are externally. Because whether we’re in the courts or in the office, we believe ‘We the People’ means all of us.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status and record of arrest or conviction, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. Black people, Indigenous people, people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people; women; people with disabilities, protected veterans, and formerly incarcerated individuals are all strongly encouraged to apply.

The ACLU makes every effort to assure that its recruitment and employment provide all qualified persons, including persons with disabilities, with full opportunities for employment in all positions.

The ACLU is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please email [email protected] . If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

The Department of Education has determined that employment in this position at the ACLU does not qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

About American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU is a private, voluntary, and nonpartisan organization that works to defend and preserve the nation's civic values.

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