Litigation Director

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, through its litigation, research, and public education programs, 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.

The Litigation Director

The Knight First Amendment Institute seeks an experienced, dynamic litigator and leader to inspire and guide its legal team and build its litigation program. 

Reporting directly to the Institute's Executive Director, the Litigation Director will work closely with the Executive Director and other senior staff to manage the Institute's growing legal docket and set the Institute's strategic litigation priorities within broad parameters established by the Institute's Board. 

An internal candidate has been identified and has applied for this position; however, we are still accepting applications and will consider all qualified candidates. 

Responsibilities include: 

  1. Working closely with the Institute's Executive Director to conceive of and develop litigation to advance the Institute's mission and priorities; 
  2. Briefing and arguing complex and high-profile cases; 
  3. Overseeing the work of an exceptional and quickly growing legal team; 
  4. Recruiting and overseeing pro bono cooperating attorneys; 
  5. Working with the Institute's Research Director to conceive of and execute research projects that relate to the Institute's litigation priorities. 


Minimum qualifications

J.D. required. Minimum ten years' related experience.  

    Preferred qualifications

    1. J.D. with at least ten years' civil litigation experience, including experience litigating complex cases involving the freedoms of speech and the press, government transparency, and/or new technology. 
    2. Deep knowledge of constitutional law, significant knowledge of First Amendment doctrine and theory, and familiarity with First Amendment issues relating to new technology; 
    3. A track record of identifying litigation opportunities and moving legal cases forward, and a demonstrated ability to build and manage an extensive caseload; 
    4. An impeccable reputation among peers and the ability to identify, attract, and recruit other talented lawyers to the Institute; 
    5. Experience managing and mentoring a legal team; 
    6. Exceptional research, writing, analytical, and verbal communication skills, evidenced by a record of publications and public speaking; 
    7. Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively on interdisciplinary projects with lawyers, researchers, and others; 
    8. Strong relationships with media organizations, technology companies, civil liberties organizations and/or other potential Institute partners. 
    9. Experience presenting complex ideas and litigation for general audiences, and the ability to represent the Institute effectively in the media.  

    Required application materials: 

    Candidates must apply through the Jobs at Columbia site at  

    1. Cover letter explaining your interest in the position, including a description of relevant experience 
    2. Resume 
    3. Two writing samples 

    Additional information may be requested during the application process.