Faculty Legal Defense Fund Fellow

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 faculty hotline to more quickly and effectively assist public university faculty facing threats to their expressive rights or academic freedom. FIRE seeks an attorney to serve as a Faculty Legal Defense Fund Fellow to manage this faculty hotline. This position is an excellent opportunity for a new attorney or recent law school graduate to begin a public interest legal career working in defense of First Amendment rights. Candidates should have exceptional communication skills, a demonstrated ability to work in a fast-paced environment, and a strong commitment to FIRE’s mission. 

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 Fellow will report to FIRE’s Faculty Legal Defense Fund Director, while also working with the Director, Individual Rights Defense Program (IRDP), and the Vice President of Litigation. The Faculty Legal Defense Fund Fellow will also correspond with staff in other FIRE departments, particularly IRDP, Communications, and Litigation.

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

Planning, launching, and operating FIRE’s forthcoming Faculty Hotline

  • Setting up the hotline and call rules; managing the relationship and training of off-site after-hours team; ensuring the hotline number is easily accessible on FIRE’s website, social media platforms, and in faculty communications;
  • Preparing scripts and protocols for effectively engaging and assisting faculty callers in a wide variety of circumstances;
  • Training existing FIRE staff to operate the Faculty Hotline; 
  • Managing hotline case intake procedures including collecting and cataloging all relevant information from faculty callers, both during call and in subsequent conversations or correspondence as needed.

Ensuring that faculty callers receive prompt, effective assistance

  • Providing non-legal assistance during phone call; 
  • Assisting the Faculty Legal Defense Fund Director in finding counsel for eligible faculty; 
  • Occasionally leading advocacy efforts as assigned by Director, IRDP.

Cross-department integration of the hotline into FIRE’s advocacy

  • Devising, tracking, and analyzing metrics generated by the Faculty Hotline’s operations; 
  • Working with the Faculty Legal Defense Fund Director and FIRE’s Communications Department to promote the Faculty Hotline to media and faculty nationwide and highlight successful defenses of faculty rights facilitated by the Faculty Legal Defense Fund.

In addition, the Faculty Legal Defense Fund Fellow may occasionally be responsible for public writing and media appearances. Occasional work on weekends and evenings should be expected.

Qualifications

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 familiarity or experience in First Amendment law, employment law, and/or higher education law. A candidate must also be or possess:  

  • Exceptional communication skills, including the ability to explain complicated legal concepts to non-attorneys;
  • Excellent legal research and writing skills;
  • Exemplary planning and organizational skills, including an ability to handle a high volume of case intake, as well as 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;
  • Experience launching a new project or program is strongly preferred.

Candidates must be a graduate of an ABA accredited law school. Candidates should be a member of the bar of the jurisdiction in which they are based or willing to become one.

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.

Applications

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.