Position Summary


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. 

Since its establishment in 2016, the Institute has filed precedent-setting litigation, undertaken major interdisciplinary research initiatives, and become an influential voice in debates about the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age. Its active litigation docket includes cutting-edge cases relating to 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, data journalism and the law, the First Amendment and inequality, whistleblowers, leaks, and national-security journalism.

The Knight Institute seeks a recent law school graduate to work with the Institute as a legal research fellow. Reporting to the Research Director, the legal research fellow will play an important role in building the Institute’s research program and will contribute to all aspects of the Institute's work. The fellowship is a full-time, one-year position based at Columbia University in New York City. The Institute anticipates taking on one fellow per year, with the fellowship beginning in early fall 2022.

The salary for this position will be based on the number of years of work experience you have.


  1. Work alongside the Institute’s research team on all aspects of our research and public education programs, including by drafting and editing essays, white papers, op-eds, and blog posts, conceiving of and implementing public programs, and representing the Institute in the media, as needed.
  2. Research legal and policy questions, and present that research orally and in writing to the Institute’s research and litigation teams.
  3. Prepare research program materials for publication by offering substantive feedback on draft papers, fact-checking, proofreading, and formatting documents.
  4. Identify research questions related to the Institute’s mission and assist in designing and executing projects to explore them.
  5. Assist the Research Director in identifying and executing the research program’s medium and long-term priorities and goals.
  6. Assist the Research Director in supervising the work of other research program staff and interns.
  7. Experiment with new formats and media for presenting research findings to a broad audience.
  8. Please note that while the legal research fellow will be included in discussions about the Institute’s litigation docket, the fellow’s primary responsibilities will not include litigation-related tasks.
  9. Please note that while the legal research fellow may be able to spend a small proportion of their working hours pursuing their own research interests (if agreed to in advance with the Research Director), this role is not suitable for someone who wishes to spend the majority of their working hours on their own independent research projects.


Minimum Qualifications
  • J.D. or equivalent;
  • An interest in issues relating to the freedoms of speech and the press;
  • A strong academic record;
  • Excellent research, writing, editing, analytical, and interpersonal skills. 

Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience with legal research, writing, and editing, including working on a law journal or as a research assistant to a law professor.
  • Familiarity with the complex issues arising at the intersection of free speech and new technology.

How to Apply


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 August 27, 2021.

Candidates must apply through Columbia University's Careers website here.

Please include the following attachments:

  • One-page 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.)
  • Resume 
  • Contact information for three references  
  • Official or unofficial law school transcript 
  • One or two writing samples, at least one of which should demonstrate your research abilities

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Columbia University is committed to the hiring of qualified local residents.