About Us

The Knight First Amendment Institute defends the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education. We aim to promote a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, that broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government.

Established in 2016, the Institute has an active litigation docket that includes cutting-edge cases relating to government transparency, surveillance, and social media. Through its research program, the Institute has published a series of influential essays focused on emerging threats to the system of free expression. It has also hosted public events on new technology and public discourse, the First Amendment and inequality, and whistleblowers and national-security journalism. Over the next several years, the Institute will tackle a wide range of issues including net neutrality, the free-speech implications of private surveillance, the free-press implications of technology companies’ terms of service, intermediary liability, the right of journalists to protect their sources, the right of citizens to record and broadcast police activity, encryption, and machine speech.

Legal Fellow

The Knight Institute seeks recent law school graduates interested in working with the Institute as legal fellows. The legal fellows will help litigate groundbreaking First Amendment cases and contribute to all aspects of the Institute’s work. Fellowships are full-time, one-year positions based at Columbia University in New York City. The Institute anticipates taking on between one and three fellows for a term beginning in the fall of 2020.

Responsibilities include:

Work alongside the Institute's attorneys on all aspects of our litigation, including by conducting legal research and analysis; drafting legal pleadings; interviewing potential clients, witnesses, and experts; and participating in discovery and trial practice.

Support the Institute's research and public-education projects, including by drafting white papers, op-eds, and blog posts; representing the Institute in the media, as needed; and conceiving of and implementing public programs.

Help determine which litigation and research priorities should guide the Institute’s work over the next few years.

Work with legal externs and summer interns as they conduct research and draft memoranda in support of the Institute’s litigation efforts.


Minimum Qualifications

Juris Doctor, or equivalent.

Preferred Qualifications

A demonstrated interest in issues relating to the freedoms of speech and the press, a strong academic record, and superior research, analytical, writing, and interpersonal skills. Familiarity with the complex issues arising at the intersection of free speech and new technology is preferred.

Application Process

Candidates must apply through Columbia University's Careers website at


Candidates are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as possible, as we will review applications and make offers on a rolling basis. Candidates should submit their applications no later than November 1, 2019.

Required Materials

  1. Cover letter explaining your interest in the fellowship, including a description of any relevant life or work experience (The fellowship is internally funded, but applicants who have access to external sources of funding should so indicate in their cover letter.)
  2. Résumé
  3. Two or three letters of recommendation submitted via email to Kitty Ahmed, Office Manager, at kitty.ahmed@knightcolumbia.org. Please include "Legal Fellow" in the subject line of your message. 
  4. Official or unofficial law school transcript
  5. One or two writing samples, at least one of which should include legal analysis

Additional information may be requested during the application process.