Staff Attorney

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. Our aim is 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. Over time, we expect to tackle a wide range of issues, such as free speech on social media, net neutrality, government surveillance, intermediary liability, the rights of whistleblowers, the right of journalists to protect their sources, the right of citizens to record and broadcast police activity, encryption, machine speech, and institutional transparency.

The Staff Attorney

Reporting to the Institute’s Litigation Director and Senior Staff Attorneys, the Staff Attorney will help conceive of and develop the Institute’s litigation docket, including by researching legal and factual questions, drafting research memos, working with clients and witnesses, drafting legal papers, and presenting oral argument. The Staff Attorney will also contribute to the Institute’s strategic planning, help develop and administer the Institute’s research and public education programs, speak on behalf of the Institute to professional and academic audiences, and represent the Institute in the media. The Staff Attorney will have significant experience litigating cases involving the freedoms of speech and the press, government transparency, and new technology. The Staff Attorney must also have the judgment, initiative, creativity, flexibility, and energy required to help sustain and grow a high-profile and multi-faceted initiative at one of the world’s leading universities and to help ensure that the Institute operates efficiently and with the highest level of professionalism.

Responsibilities include:

  1. Help conceive of and develop the Institute’s litigation docket, including by identifying cases and issues that warrant the Institute’s attention, researching legal and factual questions, drafting research memos, working with clients and witnesses, drafting legal papers, and presenting oral argument.
  2. Help set the Institute’s strategic direction, including by helping the Institute’s staff determine the Institute’s substantive priorities and design and implement the Institute’s research and public education programs.
  3. Speak on behalf of the Institute to professional and academic audiences; write in a variety of formats (including in blog posts, op-eds, and white papers) for both legal and non-legal audiences about issues relating to the Institute’s work; and represent the Institute in the media.
  4. Supervise legal fellows and interns.
  5. Cultivate and manage relationships with the Institute’s partners inside and outside the Columbia University community
  6. Travel as required for litigation, conferences, and speaking engagements.
  7. Qualifications

Minimum qualifications

The Staff Attorney must have a J.D. or equivalent, be admitted to the New York bar (or be in a position to gain admission to the New York bar quickly), and have three to six years of relevant experience as a lawyer, including experience in cases involving the freedoms of speech and the press, government transparency, and/or new technology. Applicants should have excellent communication skills, both oral and written; excellent analytical skills; and the temperament and skills necessary to supervise other lawyers.

Preferred qualifications

  • Preference will be given to candidates who have experience dealing with the media; to candidates who have experience presenting oral argument; to candidates who have experience supervising other lawyers; and to candidates who have strong relationships with organizations that the Institute is likely to partner with—media organizations, technology companies, and civil liberties organizations.

Application process: 

Candidates must apply through Columbia University's Jobs At Columbia (JAC)  portal at https://jobs.columbia.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=175451

Required Materials:

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

Additional information may be requested during the application process.