Position Summary

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 hosted leading thinkers as visiting scholars and published influential essays focused on emerging threats to the system of free expression. It has also hosted public events on issues including new technology and public discourse, data journalism and the law, the First Amendment and inequality, national-security journalism, and the implications for public discourse of economic concentration in the technology sector.

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 the Institute's research and public education initiatives. Fellowships are full-time positions based at Columbia University in New York City. The Institute anticipates taking on up to four fellows in the fall of 2024. Each fellowship will have a term of one or two years. Please indicate in your cover letter whether you would like to be considered for a one-year position, a two-year position, or both; if both, please indicate your preference.

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


  1. 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.
  2. Support the Institute’s research and public-education projects, including by drafting and reviewing essays, white papers, op-eds, and blog posts; representing the Institute in the media, as needed; and conceiving of and implementing public programs.
  3. Research legal and policy questions, and present that research orally and in writing to the Institute's litigation and research teams.
  4. Help determine which litigation and research priorities should guide the Institute’s work over the next few years.
  5. Work with legal externs and summer interns as they conduct research and draft memoranda in support of the Institute’s litigation and research efforts.
  6. Coordinate the summer legal internship program.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Applicants must have a Juris Doctor degree, or equivalent (the responsibilities and expectations of the position are generally commensurate with zero to four years of litigation experience)
  • An interest in issues relating to the freedoms of speech and the press
  • Excellent research, analytical, writing, and interpersonal skills

Preferred Qualifications

Familiarity with the complex issues arising at the intersection of free speech and new technology is preferred but not required.

How to Apply

Candidates must apply through the Columbia University Careers site at this link. To apply, please submit the following materials by September 4, 2023. We encourage applicants to submit their applications as soon as possible, as we intend to review applications and make offers on a rolling basis:

  • 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 indicate so in their cover letter.)
  • Résumé
  • Official or unofficial law school transcript
  • One or two writing samples, at least one of which should include legal analysis. (You are strongly encouraged to submit writing samples that reflect solely your own work. If you are unable to do so, please explain the contributions of others to the writing.)
  • Two or three letters of recommendation (candidates should instruct recommenders to submit these letters directly to the Institute at [email protected])