The ACLU of Arizona—a leader in the fight against mass incarceration, discrimination in public education, and threats to LGBTQ equality and immigrants’ rights—is seeking a full-time, senior staff attorney with 10+ years of litigation experience to work in our Phoenix office. We are looking for an experienced litigator with a profound commitment to social justice and civil rights and civil liberties, who can play a lead role in complex innovative litigation, help guide more junior ACLU of Arizona litigation attorneys, and actively collaborate with policy, advocacy, and communications staff. The senior staff attorney will be a strategic thinker who can exercise sound independent judgment, work collaboratively with other attorneys, community advocates, and clients, and regularly represent the ACLU of Arizona in the courts, in the media, and with key organizational partners. He/she will serve as the person that others in the ACLU of Arizona turn to for legal expertise on litigation and policy matters that impact a wide array of civil liberties issues ranging from free speech and open government to police practices and privacy rights.

The ACLU of Arizona’s Legal Department includes four full-time lawyers, a paralegal, as well as interns, fellows, and volunteers. ACLU of Arizona’s attorneys litigate federal and state cases, at the trial and appellate levels, while participating in other advocacy and communications work. ACLU of Arizona maintains a fast-paced and collegial work environment with its main office near downtown Phoenix, the cosmopolitan center of Arizona and a true gem of the American Southwest. In addition to year-round sunshine and a temperate climate, Phoenix also boasts a dynamic food, arts, and culture scene. For outdoors enthusiasts, the options are limitless as Phoenix enjoys close proximity to some of the best and most picturesque mountain trails, hiking, and camping in the United States. 

This is an incredibly exciting time to join the ACLU. Our ACLU membership here in Arizona has increased from 5,000 before the November 2016 election to over 22,000 members today. In celebration of its 100th anniversary in 2020, the ACLU is building a more expansive advocacy infrastructure to increase the ACLU’s effectiveness in achieving its public policy objectives. The organization is growing rapidly and has embarked on two proactive campaigns in the areas of criminal justice reform and education equity, where we’ve identified critical policy and capacity building goals to achieve over the next three-five years.   

The ACLU of Arizona is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public interest organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights in Arizona.  Our four strategic priority areas are: criminal justice reform, educational equity, LGBT equality, and immigrants’ rights. The ACLU of Arizona has 21 staff members, 18 board members, and an annual budget of $2,616,149, which includes a significant influx of resources for new positions in FY 2019. 


Working directly under the supervision of our Legal Director, the senior staff attorney will be primarily responsible for playing a lead role in compliance-related proceedings in Ortega Melendres v. Penzone, which successfully challenged a pattern of unlawful racial profiling by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his agency during immigration sweeps and traffic stops. Compliance works entails reviewing and providing input on policies and procedures related to police practices, providing input on implementation of court-mandated reforms, participating in meetings with all levels of personnel at MCSO, including command-level staff, liaising with the court-appointed Monitor and his team and community representatives, representing the legal team in court hearings, and drafting court filings.

In addition to managing all compliance proceedings, the senior staff attorney also will be responsible for helping to build the litigation and legal advocacy docket for ACLU of Arizona, including identifying cutting-edge issues for the ACLU to litigate in Arizona. This includes proactively engaging in litigation and also mentoring and supervising staff attorneys and volunteer attorneys as they litigate cases involving significant civil-liberties and civil-rights issues in a range of areas, including criminal justice, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, privacy rights, voting rights, speech rights, and open government. In coordination with the policy staff at both the National ACLU and the ACLU of Arizona, the senior staff attorney also will actively engage in non-litigation advocacy campaigns at the local, state, or national levels.


  • Investigate, develop, and litigate high-impact cases, including discovery, motion practice, hearings, trials, and appeals;
  • Proactively seek out and creatively implement a strategic impact litigation program that advances key civil liberties by persuading state and federal courts, administrative tribunals, and regulatory agencies to recognize new or established legal principles;
  • Serve as the primary point person and coordinator among plaintiffs’ class counsel for compliance proceedings in Ortega Melendres v. Penzone;
  • Collaborate in the development and implementation of integrated advocacy initiatives and strategies where litigation is one advocacy tool;
  • Develop strong co-counsel relationships with other public interest lawyers and existing and potential ACLU volunteer lawyers and cooperating counsel;
  • Serve as a resource to organizing, policy, communications, and development staff;
  • Support and deepen existing relationships – and create new ones – with community partners, coalitions, and stakeholders;
  • Engage in community outreach and public speaking, including representing the ACLU of Arizona’s positions to the media and public generally; and
  • Other general litigation and non-litigation duties as assigned, including factual and legal research, interviewing clients and potential witnesses, preparing correspondence, demand letters, and public records requests, and drafting memoranda, court papers, and other documents.


  • J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school and 10 or more years of experience with all aspects of complex litigation – including developing cases, all forms of discovery, motion practice, evidentiary hearings, and appeals – involving constitutional and statutory issues in federal and state court;
  • Member of the State Bar of Arizona or eligible for admission under Arizona Supreme Court Rule 38(f);
  • Fluency in Spanish (ability to read, write, and speak) strongly preferred;
  • Exceptional legal research, analysis, and writing abilities, and ability to develop novel and successful litigation and non-litigation advocacy in response to serious problems facing communities;
  • Ability to manage complex cases, with large volumes of document review, and a demonstrated ability to engage in complex legal and factual analysis;
  • Familiarity and ease with the legal doctrines and structures that apply to constitutional and civil rights litigation;
  • Experience supervising attorneys in their litigation and non-litigation related work;
  • Strong oral advocacy skills, including significant experience with oral argument and examining witnesses under oath,
  • Familiarity and comfort with being highly visible in the community, able to communicate effectively with the public and policymakers with limited prior approval or review;
  • A demonstrated commitment to civil liberties, immigrants’ rights, public interest law, and the mission and goals of the ACLU;
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including ability to influence others a must, frequently obtaining cooperation externally and internally from lawyers, other staff members, and diverse community organizations;
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written;
  • Self-motivated, diligent, and able to meet strict deadlines while under pressure;
  • Ability to make daily operational and strategic decisions, take initiative, and share responsibility and credit;
  • Commitment to diversity and respect for differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ability, and socio-economic circumstance.


Salary & Benefits: Competitive public interest legal salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits, including three weeks paid vacation; 100%-employer paid medical and dental insurance for staff members; life and long-term disability insurance; 401(k); and twelve paid holidays.


Send a cover letter, CV, list of three professional references, and a writing sample (no more than 5 pages, double-spaced, which may be an excerpt from a brief) to: Gloria Torres, Paralegal, ACLU Foundation of Arizona, Re: Senior Staff Attorney, P.O. Box 17148, Phoenix, AZ 85011 or email to: gtorres@acluaz.org. Please list “Senior Staff Attorney” in the subject line. Applications will be accepted until position is filled. Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this listing.


For the past nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been at the forefront of every major civil liberties fight in our country’s history. Whether it’s ending mass incarceration, achieving full equality for the LGBT community, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, or preserving the right to vote, we take up the toughest civil liberties issues to defend all individuals from government abuse and overreach. With ACLU affiliate offices in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, we fight tirelessly in the courts, legislatures, and through community engagement to ensure that all individuals’ rights are protected. We are a passionate, highly motivated group of lawyers, public policy experts, lobbyists, community organizers, and fundraisers, and we’re looking for exceptional talent to join our team.

The ACLU of Arizona comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and the ACLU Foundation of Arizona. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and the ACLU Foundation of Arizona have the same overall mission and share office space and employees. The ACLU has two separate corporate entities in order to do a broad range of work to protect civil liberties.

ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status and record of arrest or conviction.