Job Announcement
Staff Attorney
American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i
Honolulu, Hawai'i

Be Part of a Pivotal Moment in History

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii's next Staff Attorney will be a mission-driven, self-motivated, and experienced attorney who will help advance the civil rights and liberties of the people of Hawaiʻi. We take pride in our reputation of over 50 years fighting for people whose civil rights are challenged. And now—with never-before-imagined threats to civil liberties nationally, the increased need to be a check on government locally, the still-evolving impacts of the COVID crisis on our rights, and the 400-years overdue increased awareness of the impacts of systemic racism on every element of our society—it is the ideal time to join us and make a meaningful impact on the future of Hawai‘i and the United States!

We are taking our organization to a new level by focusing our legal and legislative firepower, building field strength, and expanding our communications methods. We are pursuing specific integrated advocacy campaigns to achieve measurable goals that will expand civil liberties and civil rights while building the long-term power of the ACLU and the civil liberties movement. 

Reporting to the Legal Director, the Staff Attorney will play a critical role in implementing the ACLU of Hawaii’s legal program, including by developing and litigating high-impact cases, managing an ongoing docket of cases and matters, and working with other departments to accomplish the affiliate’s goals. The Staff Attorney will also support the legal program and the affiliate through advocacy means short of litigation, including by sending and following up on demand letters and open records requests, reviewing and responding to intake requests, engaging in legislative advocacy, holding public education and know-your-rights events, and speaking to the media and others about our work.

What you’ll do


The Staff Attorney will be a leader within the legal program. The Staff Attorney will:

  • Develop impact litigation and help the Legal Director shape a legal docket that advances the ACLU’s campaign goals and responds to emerging civil rights and civil liberties threats.
  • Assist the Legal Director in the management of all aspects of the ACLU’s legal program, including by contributing to legal program vision, strategic planning, policies, and procedures.
  • Supervise paralegals, legal fellows, interns, and volunteers.
  • Collaborate with ACLU of Hawai‘i colleagues to implement integrated advocacy campaigns using legal, communications, public education, legislative, and field organizing resources, and serve as a resource on legal matters to colleagues.
  • Contribute to maintaining an equity-minded and inclusive organizational climate and culture that is sensitive to Hawaii’s sense of place.

Legal Advocacy

The Staff Attorney will assist the Legal Director in all aspects of legal advocacy. The Staff Attorney will:

  • Help the Legal Director shape the overall litigation docket, and execute all phases of litigation.
  • Identify and coordinate the review and selection of potential litigation opportunities, including monitoring current civil rights issues, reviewing and responding to intake requests, interviewing prospective clients, researching potential legal claims, drafting and sending demand letters, and conducting general legal research and legal analysis.
  • Develop cases before the start of litigation, including conducting pre-litigation legal research and legal analysis, conducting factual investigations and witness interviews, preparing litigation strategy memoranda, and preparing pleadings.
  • Engage in litigation in federal and state courts, including negotiating settlements, conducting discovery, engaging in motion practice, presenting oral arguments, and handling trials.
  • Conduct post-trial and post-litigation practice, including supervising and enforcing settlements and handling appeals.
  • Draft and/or coordinate amicus briefs in cases of constitutional significance, both in federal and state courts.
  • Maintain ACLU legal and litigation files, intake database, and other legal program administrative files.

Other Advocacy

The Staff Attorney will assist the Legal Director and affiliate through other forms of advocacy. The Staff Attorney will:

  • Prepare and present testimony before legislative bodies and administrative agencies.
  • Assist with engaging and mobilizing community members around campaign issues.
  • Make press appearances for the ACLU of Hawaiʻi, articulating the ACLU’s views to the public on a range of issues.
  • Assist in developing communication materials, including press releases, op-eds, articles, blog posts, and social media assets.
  • Engage in public education, including know your rights events, talk stories, membership meetings, and more.
  • Assist with fundraising, grant proposals, and other tasks needed to promote the organization and its mission.
  • Develop equitable and reciprocal relationships with partner organizations, other lawyers and law firms, and community coalitions and members.

What you’ll need

  • Juris doctor from an accredited law school.
  • Admission to the Hawaiʻi bar or admission to the Hawai‘i bar within 1 year of employment.[1]
  • Exceptional legal research, writing, analytical, and oral communication skills.
  • At least 2 years of trial and/or appellate litigation experience in federal or state courts.
  • Demonstrated record of moving legal cases forward.

What you should have

While no one person will have all of the qualities enumerated below, the successful candidate should have many of the following:

  • Experience litigating complex constitutional and civil rights matters.
  • Broad substantive knowledge of constitutional law and civil rights.
  • Excellent project management, organizational, and follow-through skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to collaborate with and manage members of a team or group.
  • Demonstrated experience working in a fast-paced environment with the ability to simultaneously work and manage multiple projects, deadlines, and priorities.
  • Experience working and communicating with marginalized or vulnerable communities.
  • Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB), both in the workplace and in collaboration with community partners and constituents.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with diverse coalitions and community groups, work across the political spectrum, and value differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion, ability, and socioeconomic circumstance.
  • Proven ability to build and nurture a calm and positive working environment, especially in high-intensity situations.
  • Ability to travel and flexibility to work as needed to accomplish organizational goals, which may include evenings and weekends.
  • Commitment to the mission of the ACLU.
  • Familiarity with the criminal legal system.
  • Familiarity with Hawaiʻi.

Are You Ready to Help Lead Us into the Future?

If you’re excited about devoting your talents and skills to the ACLU of Hawaiʻi, please submit—in a single combined PDF, and in the following order—(1) cover letter, (2) resume, (3) writing sample(s) of 8-20 pages total, and (4) three professional refences to by April 30, 2021.[2] The subject line of your transmittal email must be in the following form: “Staff Attorney Application – [Last Name], [First Name]”.

Here are further instructions on each application component:

  1. Cover letter. Your cover letter should not exceed 700 words. In the first paragraph, please state (A) how you learned about the position, and (B) your earliest available start date. Additionally, your cover letter must address the following questions: (C) what single civil rights/liberties issue do you feel is most pressing right now and why? (D) how do your skills, expertise, experiences, and mindset make you a good fit for this position? (E) what familiarity do you have with Hawaiʻi?
  2. Resume. Please limit your resume to one page.
  3. Writing sample(s). You are required to submit at least one writing sample of at least 8 pages. You may—and are encouraged to—submit two writing samples totaling no more than 20 pages. If you submit two writing samples, preferably one sample demonstrates your objective legal analysis skills, and the other demonstrates your persuasive legal advocacy skills. Your writing sample(s) must also be your own work product.
  4. References. Please include a sentence about each reference that describes your relationship and identifies what information the person can provide on your candidacy.

Please do not call to inquire about the status of your application. To ensure that we receive your application, please do not send your application to any other ACLU email address.

Salary is commensurate with experience and within the parameters of the ACLU of Hawai‘i compensation scale. Excellent benefits include: generous vacation and sick leave; 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; individual/family employer-provided health insurance with 100% of premiums covered for the employee; long-term disability; defined contribution plan with employer match; paid parking; and 14 paid holidays. This position is full-time, salaried, and exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The ACLU of Hawai‘i is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest organization, dedicated to defending and enhancing civil rights and civil liberties through litigation, legislative advocacy, organizing, and community education.

The ACLU of Hawaiʻi is committed to developing a culture of diversity, equity, respect, and inclusion and to strive to maintain a workforce that reflects the communities that we serve. The ACLU of Hawaiʻi is an equal opportunity employer that does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of any status or condition protected by applicable law. We encourage all qualified individuals to apply and value people of all races, genders (including gender identity or expression), sexual orientations, disabilities, citizenships, ages, religions, ancestries, and national origins, and who have different marital statuses, family caregiving responsibilities, lived experiences with the criminal justice systems, credit histories, statuses as a victim of domestic and sexual violence, arrest or court record histories, and genetic information. The ACLU of Hawaiʻi does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of any of these characteristics.

[1] Hawai‘i does not have reciprocity with other states/U.S. territories. Bar admissions are handled by the State Judiciary. On the Hawai‘i Judiciary's website, you may find bar application information and the Rules of the Supreme Court, including admission to the bar.

[2] We will accept applications until April 30, 2021 or until the position is filled, when the job announcement will be removed. However, please be advised that we may review applications and make offers on a rolling basis. Thus, we encourage you to apply sooner rather than later.