Fresno, CA

Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California

The Organization

The ACLU of Northern California, a leading champion of civil liberties in California since 1934, seeks a Senior Staff Attorney with substantial litigation and management experience to deepen and expand the work in Fresno and the greater southern Central Valley region. The Senior Staff Attorney will report to Christine P. Sun, the Legal-Policy Department Director.

The new Senior Staff Attorney (SSA) will join the Fresno team as the lead attorney responsible for mentoring and supervising Staff Attorneys and legal fellows, and litigating cases involving significant civil-liberties and civil rights issues. He/She/They will serve as a member of the Legal-Policy Department management team and play a significant role in supporting alignment and coordination between the San Francisco, Fresno, and Sacramento offices. The new SSA will also carry significant responsibility for leading and supervising civil liberties and civil rights impact litigation, with a particular focus on criminal justice, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, economic justice, and voting rights. In coordination with the ACLU of California and the national ACLU office, the successful candidate will actively engage in policy advocacy campaigns at the local, state, and national level. The SSA will be a key resource on litigation matters, will be expected to draft legislation and regulations that impact the region, and should be prepared to speak before legislative bodies.

To ensure success, the new SSA will be an experienced litigator, inspiring leader, successful manager, and passionate advocate for civil rights and civil liberties. He/She/They will excel at developing and litigating high-impact cases and identifying multi-pronged legal, policy, and community engagement strategies. He/She/They will provide high quality supervision and mentorship, take a solutions-oriented approach, and exercise sound, independent judgment while working collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders. The new Senior Staff Attorney will thrive in a busy, bustling work ecosystem, and balance key administrative tasks while also being available to others while staying focused and prioritizing key objectives. He/She/They will be a relationship-builder who enjoys developing and nurturing close ties with community organizations and advocates across the region; and will be excited about the opportunity to participate in the ACLU’s community engagement efforts in Fresno and the greater the Central Valley region.

The ideal candidate will be an exceptionally talented litigator, strategist, and manager with a deep personal passion for advocating for the civil liberties that are most significant for the residents of the Central Valley. He/she/they will have a deep commitment to community engagement and partnership among the different agencies that advocate in the Central Valley. He/she/they will bring at least ten (10) years of litigation experience, two (2) years successfully managing and leading a highly-talented team, and be barred or willing to sit for the next bar exam in California.

The search committee is supported by Tamar Datan and Erica Nicole Griffin of the national search firm NPAG. Please see instructions for submitting applications, nominations, and inquiries at the end of this document.


The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC) is an affiliate of a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights. For most of the last century, it has been at the heart of many of the most major – and sometimes controversial – struggles for civil liberties and civil rights in the state of California.  Its mission is to ensure that Constitutional rights don’t just exist on paper but, are protected in practice. Moving into a new era, and facing dangerous policies that threaten civil rights and civil liberties, ACLU-NC remains dedicated to confronting these issues and defending the progress that has been made.  The organization is using decades of experience in impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and fearless organizing to fight un-American policies, and to protect the most cherished rights and freedoms of the communities it serves.

The ACLU of Northern California is one of the largest ACLU affiliates in the nation, with nearly 170,000 members. Throughout its 75-year history, ACLU-NC has stood with well-known figures like Fred Korematsu in the fight against the forced detention of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and lesser known people like Lawrence Ferlinghetti for selling Howl, the groundbreaking book of poetry, in his San Francisco City Lights bookstore. ACLU-NC stands with Latinos who are the most recent targets of xenophobic hate and discrimination, in the same way it stood with Muslims and people with Middle Eastern backgrounds after 9/11.

Senior Staff Attorneys are critical members of the Legal-Policy Department and the ACLU of California, a statewide collaboration of the ACLU affiliates in California aimed at maximizing impact and enhancing the protection of civil liberties and civil rights statewide. As leaders in litigation and team management, SSAs provide the leadership and strategic partnership needed to engage with community leaders and secure comprehensive impact in the Central Valley and all of Northern California.

Position Overview

Opportunities and Challenges facing the senior STAFF ATTORNEY

Work at the American Civil Liberties Union is both a great privilege and a responsibility. The new Senior Staff Attorney should not only be a champion of fairness, equality, and justice for all people while litigating in the courtroom but, he/she/they should also be an experienced manager capable of inspiring a staff of attorneys, fellows, and investigators as they build out and execute a comprehensive agenda for Fresno and the Central Valley.

Working closely with Christine P. Sun, Director for Legal and Policy, the new SSA will litigate new and ongoing cases on behalf of key civil liberties, lead advocacy efforts with the community, and collaborate with existing agencies to promote widespread engagement among and between all communities in Fresno and the Central Valley. More specifically, he/she/they will:

Supervise and manage the ACLU Fresno Office in partnership with the Legal-Policy Department

·       Supervise attorneys in their litigation and non-litigation related work and professional development, and supervise department support staff;

·       Participate in Legal-Policy Department management meetings, manage key administrative tasks, and facilitate staff meetings in the Fresno office;

·       Communicate and coordinate with the Legal-Policy Department management team, ACLU of Northern California management team, and ACLU national office, as needed, to ensure implementation of organizational priorities, policies, procedures, and protocols in the Fresno office;

·       Work in collaboration and coordination with the ACLU of California and its statewide issue teams; and,

·       Work closely with non-legal program staff, particularly legislative, communications, organizing, advocacy, and fundraising professionals on ACLU-NC campaigns and activities.

Lead and supervise litigation for Fresno and the Central Valley

·       Lead multi-pronged strategies using litigation, public education, and legislative and policy advocacy to further the ACLU-NC’s strategic plans;

·       Supervise the investigation, development, and litigation of high-impact cases, including conducting discovery and motion practice, handling hearings and trials, and arguing appeals;

·       Review and respond to requests for legal assistance, in accordance with the organization’s intake procedures;

·       Respond to community needs as they arise, potentially on an emergency basis; and

·       Develop strong co-counsel relationships with other public interest lawyers and ACLU volunteer lawyers.

Lead Policy Advocacy, and Outreach to community leaders in Fresno and the Central Valley

·       Support and deepen existing and new relationships with community partners, coalitions, and stakeholders;

·       Ensure appropriate communication and coordination between ACLU-NC and ACLU of California staff engaged in policy advocacy and community outreach in the Fresno region.

·       Coach staff on developing and sustaining community partnerships, outreach, and policy advocacy;

·       Engage in community outreach and public speaking, including representing the ACLU-NC’s positions to the media and to the public generally; and

·       Use cultural sensitivity and awareness to develop appropriate and effective strategies to address the needs and advance the rights of vulnerable communities.


The ideal candidate will be an exceptionally intelligent and effective litigator, strategist, and manager with an unrelenting commitment to justice on behalf of all those in Fresno and the Central Valley. While no one candidate will have all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will be a trained attorney and have the following skills, qualifications, and abilities:

·       J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school, and 10 or more years of litigation experience in state and federal court;

·       Experience supervising and mentoring attorneys, law fellows, and support staff;

·       Strong legal research and writing abilities, and ability to gather facts, identify cases, and engage communities in litigation and non-litigation advocacy;

·       Ability to analyze and articulate legal concepts and communicate them to a variety of audiences, including to community residents and policymakers;

·       Commitment to community-oriented lawyering that is responsive to community needs, culturally competent, and enhances community participation within the scope of ACLU issues and strategies, as well as an ability to work cooperatively on a variety of projects with lawyers, organizers, other staff members, and with diverse community organizations and coalitions;

·       Solution-oriented approach, with a willingness to take initiative;

·       Excellent verbal communication skills;

·       Ability to both work independently and as a team member in a busy, small, remote office with personal enthusiasm, optimism, and a sense of humor;

·       Ability to work collaboratively and with flexibility in a complex organizational ecosystem;

·       Flexibility for travel within the Central Valley and to the Bay Area and Sacramento, and ability to work long hours when needed; and

·       Membership in the California State Bar (or must pass the next California Bar Examination if currently a member of another state bar).

Desired qualifications

·       Previous experience in or familiarity with the Central Valley region; and

·       Spanish fluency preferred but not required.

How To Apply


This search is being conducted with support from Tamar Datan and Erica Nicole Griffin of Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group. Candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, and applications will be reviewed as they are received. Please send nominations and/or applications, including cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume (in Word format), and where you learned of the position to:

ACLU-Northern California is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

NPAG is a national search and talent consulting firm dedicated to serving the mission-driven community. We partner with global mission-driven clients to deliver highly-tailored, innovative, and strategic senior- and executive-level search services.

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