The ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) seeks an Advancing Justice Staff Attorney. As part of the Advancing Justice Issue Team, the Advancing Justice Staff Attorney will help to design, coordinate, and implement strategic litigation and integrated advocacy that challenges police practices, expands protections against police power and other components of the criminal legal system. This role is for a self-starter that likes to develop and implement strategy and is comfortable with having management responsibilities.

The ACLUF-SDIC is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) civil liberties and civil rights organization. working to advance equality, freedom and justice through public education and litigation.  Together with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that does our legislative lobbying work, we are a prominent force for the protection and expansion of fundamental rights in California’s second-most populous county (San Diego) and the county with the highest per capita Latina/o population (Imperial).

With affiliate offices in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, the ACLU fights tirelessly in courts, in legislatures, and in communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the United States Constitution and U.S. laws to everyone in this country. The work of the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties and ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (known collectively as ACLU-SDIC) encompasses the length of California’s border with Mexico. We collaborate with the National ACLU and with ACLU affiliates in California, on the U.S-Mexico border and throughout the United States. We strive to partner with community organizations and groups across the state and throughout the binational border region.

After 15 months of intensive strategic planning for our future – led by the ACLU-SDIC leadership team, ACLU-SDIC is restructuring to become an integrated advocacy organization that operationalizes our theory of change and prioritizes racial and economic justice, liberation and abolition. We are building on the affiliate’s proven track record of success combining impact litigation, lobbying, legal/policy analysis and research, field organizing, donor mobilization, strategic communications and non-partisan voter engagement to achieve meaningful, lasting social change across our region.

The ACLU-SDIC is dedicated to confronting issues that threaten our most cherished civil rights and freedoms and defending the progress the ACLU has made over its 100-year history.  And we are dedicated to working in relationship with people directly impacted by inequity to create a more just and fair society for us all.

Position Summary:

The Advancing Justice Staff Attorney is responsible for investigating, analyzing, and addressing issues in the criminal legal system in San Diego & Imperial Counties that may be caused by violations of legal and policy protections and/or prevented by improvements in those protections. Working within the affiliate’s Advancing Justice Issue Team and in collaboration with the statewide ACLU of California Police Practices and Criminal Justice Issue Teams, the attorney will work to devise and implement strategies to address problems through legal advocacy and litigation, policy reform and implementation, community education, and strategic communications.

The Advancing Justice Staff Attorney will be in the Advocacy and Legal Department and supervised by the Advocacy and Legal Director with the Deputy Legal Director providing supervision on litigation matters.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities:

The ACLU SDIC’s “integrated advocacy” model unites legal advocacy, policy advocacy, organizing, communication strategies and base building for maximum impact. In keeping with that approach, the Staff Attorney will work on cases, advocacy projects, public education, and campaigns. The attorney’s responsibilities will be the following:

  • Working with the Advancing Justice Issue Team, Deputy Legal Director and impacted communities identify, research, develop, and pursue legal and policy initiatives consistent with affiliate priorities developed through the Advancing Justice Issue Team;
  • Provide legal and policy expertise on issues related to the criminal legal system, especially police practices, including by:
    • researching, drafting, or editing legal advocacy letters, amicus briefs, legislation, regulatory comments, reports, policy briefs and coalition sign-on letters;
    • participating in legislative briefings and meetings with federal, state, and local government officials; contributing legal analysis and support to designated legal, policy, organizing, communications, or development work of the affiliate as appropriate; and
    • conducting legal and policy research to support the Advancing Justice Issue Team;
  • Investigate, monitor, and advocate for local and federal compliance with existing legal and policy requirements, and identify and develop strategies and novel legal claims to challenge police practices under state and federal law, investigating practices of police departments and other law enforcement agencies for potential litigation and/or advocacy work, and identifying opportunities to leverage impact litigation to catalyze policy efforts in local communities;
  • Research and maintain up-to-date awareness of current tactics and trends related to the criminal legal system, especially as it relates to policing, and communicate those tactics and trends as appropriate to the Advancing Justice Issue Team and appropriate affiliate staff as well as across the ACLU state and national organizational structure;
  • Participate in strategic litigation and direct service representation as necessary or appropriate, consistent with priorities developed by the Advancing Justice Issue Team and under the supervision of the Deputy Legal Director;
  • Provide technical support and strategic leadership and support to community partners, allies, stakeholders, and coalitions in the region, and build and nurture relationships by participating in regular meetings with community leaders and members and pursuing shared advocacy goals with them;
  • Draft content for “Know Your” materials, op-eds, blog posts, and other media regarding the criminal legal system, and participate in community outreach, education, and public speaking on issues impacting the Advancing Justice issue area;
  • Supervise investigators, interns or fellows as needed, and support summer intern hiring.

Our Must Haves:

  • Commitment to racial justice and civil liberties principles;
  • Current attorney with proven litigation experience in state and/or federal court.
  • Applicants must have excellent research, writing, analytic, interpersonal, communication, and time-management skills, as well as patience, emotional intelligence and cultural competency. Applicants must be able to occasionally work evenings and weekends, and travel as needed inside or outside the U.S.
  • Strong candidates will have demonstrated experience using advocacy, community engagement, and litigation as part of a creative response to civil rights violations in affected communities; relevant experience working on issues related to the criminal legal system; and be a flexible team player but also comfortable working independently and taking initiative.
  • Must be admitted to the California Bar and in good standing.

Cultural Competencies:

Demonstrated awareness of one’s own cultural identity, views about differences, and the ability to learn and build on varying cultural and community norms. A complex understanding of racial justice and the urgency of confronting institutional racism and inequity. Commitment to equity and inclusion as organizational practice and culture. Proven track record of working across lines of race, immigration status, ethnicity, language, class, gender and other identities and experiences including record of arrest or conviction.  Courage and impeccable integrity.

Physical Requirements:

While performing the responsibilities of the job, the employee is required to exchange accurate information, detect/identify documents and the information contained in them, move between areas in and out of the office to complete their role. The employee may need to move various equipment including computer to their work location.

Hybrid Working:

The ACLUF-SDIC is headquartered in San Diego, California, though employees have hybrid schedules that allow for remote work. 

Travel Requirements: Must be able to travel for court hearings and conferences as needed. 


Salary range: $65,000 - $96,000

Excellent benefits include four weeks paid vacation; 18 office holidays; medical and dental

insurance for staff members and their families; life and long-term disability insurance; and

401(k) plan with employer match.

What Now?

Please submit a cover letter explaining your interest in and qualifications for the position as detailed in this announcement, a current resume, writing sample, and names and contact information of three professional references (including as least one supervisor).

Electronic Applications Preferred. To submit your application, please click here.


However, hard-copy applications can be mailed to:


Deputy Director


ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties


P.O. Box 87131


San Diego, CA 92137-7131

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, veterans, and people with arrest records and/or convictions.