Faculty Legal Defense Fund Director

This position is for an immediate opening. While remote work is possible at present, the position will be based in Philadelphia or Washington, D.C. when regular office operations resume.

To augment our defense of faculty rights, FIRE is launching a legal defense fund to secure outside counsel for public university faculty facing threats to their expressive rights or academic freedom. FIRE seeks an experienced attorney to serve as a full-time Director to oversee the legal defense fund, recruit counsel and manage a national network of participating firms, and ensure faculty clients receive timely, capable representation. The Director will also supervise a Faculty Legal Defense Fund Fellow responsible for managing a hotline for public university faculty to submit cases to FIRE. This position is an excellent opportunity for an experienced attorney seeking to transition into a public interest legal career. Candidates should have exceptional communication skills, a demonstrated ability to work in a fast-paced environment, and a strong commitment to FIRE’s mission. The ideal candidate will have experience in private practice and negotiations, and familiarity or expertise in First Amendment law, employment law, and/or higher education law will be of particular value.

About FIRE

Founded in 1999, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a dynamic, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on our nation’s college campuses. Please visit www.thefire.org to gain a sense of our work and mission.

 Job Responsibilities

The Faculty Legal Defense Fund Director will report to FIRE’s Vice President of Litigation, while also working with the Director, Individual Rights Defense Program. The Faculty Legal Defense Fund Director will correspond with other FIRE departments, external attorneys, and faculty.

This position is responsible for, but not limited to, the following tasks:

  • Leading the overall design and implementation of legal defense fund activities, including:
    • Supervising the intake process for assistance requests including documentation, tracking, and reporting processes for all legal defense fund activity;
    • Recruiting and managing a national network of participating counsel and firms;
    • Negotiating and finalizing agreements with participating counsel and firms;
    • Connecting eligible public university faculty and legal defense fund attorneys, and ensuring prompt, capable, confidential, and effective assistance;
    • Creating training materials to assist legal defense fund attorneys;
    • Developing protocols and guidelines for resource distribution;
    • Working closely with FIRE’s Communications team to produce the legal defense fund’s public-facing materials to promote information about the legal defense fund and its resources.
  • Overseeing the legal defense fund’s internal operations, including:
    • Assessing legal and liability issues to ensure compliance;
    • Ensuring the fund is in compliance with legal and tax regulations;
    • Working closely with Vice President of Litigation to oversee the legal defense fund’s internal operational management, including following policies, financial tracking, and writing summaries and analyses of legal defense fund activities;
    • Managing the FIRE legal fellow and the public university faculty hotline.

In addition, the Faculty Legal Defense Fund Director may occasionally be responsible for public writing and media appearances. This position may involve a moderate amount of travel when safe to do so.


Candidates must demonstrate a knowledge and passion for FIRE’s mission and an ability to articulate that passion in a way that will make others enthusiastic about our cause. Ideal candidates will have had experience in private practice and negotiations, and familiarity or expertise in First Amendment law, employment law, and/or higher education law will be of particular value. A candidate must also be able to demonstrate:

  • 4+ years of experience as a practicing attorney;
  • Exceptional legal research, writing, and communication skills, including the ability to explain complicated legal concepts to non-attorney faculty;
  • Excellent organizational and case management skills;
  • Knowledge of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure;
  • Exemplary planning and organizational skills, including an ability to handle dynamic, challenging, and changing situations;
  • Self-motivated individual with the ability to prioritize and efficiently manage multiple projects at once;
  • Demonstrated ability to work productively across disciplines and viewpoints;
  • Collaborative team player with ability to give and receive constructive feedback;
  • Desire to pursue a career in public-interest litigation;
  • Previous management and/or mentorship experience;
  • Experience launching a new project or program is strongly preferred.

Candidates must be a graduate of an ABA accredited law school and a member of the bar of the jurisdiction in which they are based.

Salary and Compensation

Starting salary for this position is negotiable and commensurate with experience. FIRE conducts periodic evaluations where employees may receive raises or bonuses for outstanding and excellent work. FIRE also offers a superior benefits package that includes employer-paid comprehensive health, dental, vision, and life insurance; a Section 125 Flexible Spending Account option; matching retirement contributions; and a generous paid time-off plan.


Applicants should provide a resume, cover letter, approximately 10-page writing sample, salary requirements, and contact information for at least two references. The cover letter should include when you are available to start and the office location in which you are interested. The writing sample must reflect the applicant’s own work, showing what you believe is your best legal analysis and writing abilities, with minimal editing by others. All applications are confidential. Please address applications to Cait Scanlan, Manager, Human Resources. Applications should be emailed to hr@thefire.org.

FIRE is an equal opportunity employer.