Legislative Attorneys or Legislative Advocates, all levels of experience

The Opportunity

ACLU California Action advocates for the defense and advancement of civil liberties and civil rights in the State Capitol in collaboration ACLU’s three California Affiliates: ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, and ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. We work to secure greater equality, equity, justice, and freedom for all Californians, working in coalition with communities that have been impacted by the denial of justice. Our policy priorities are aimed at dismantling systems rooted in oppression and discrimination through an integrated advocacy approach that employs rigorous policy analysis, lobbying, communications, coalition-building, and grassroots organizing. ACLU California Action is a 501(c)(4)* organization  federated with ACLU’s three California affiliates for the purpose of statewide advocacy.

We are in search of a Legislative Attorney and/or Legislative Advocate to our Sacramento-based team. We seek mission-driven, values-aligned advocates adept at working in teams and coalitions and motivated by ACLU’s diverse range of policy areas, which include criminal justice and law enforcement accountability, reproductive justice, LGBTQ equality, voting rights, immigrant rights, racial and economic justice, technology and civil liberties, and education equity. Our Legislative Attorneys and/or Legislative Advocates work in partnership with ACLU’s three California affiliates, the California Action team, and external partners to facilitate the development of ACLU’s statewide policy agenda, design and implement innovative integrated advocacy campaigns to achieve ACLU’s statewide policy objectives, and cultivate relationships with legislators in furtherance of our policy goals.

Job Functions

  • Develops, maintains, and leverages strong working relationships with members and leadership of the California legislature, the executive branch, regulatory agencies, and other state-level policymakers, and their staff. 
  • Fosters collaboration with a robust network of fellow advocates, organizations, and allies with aligned interests, missions, and values.
  • Designs and implements integrated advocacy campaigns in collaboration with internal staff, affiliate staff, and external partners and allies that fully leverage rigorous policy analysis, strategic communications, coalition-building, and grassroots organizing.
  • Analyzes and negotiates legislative and other policy proposals, positions, and amendments, as well as advocacy materials, and generates and presents expert testimony, working collaboratively with the government affairs and communications teams.
  • Identifies and investigates legal issues and impacts, examines constitutionality of legislative and other policy proposals, and provides expert testimony on legal issues orally and in writing, on own (Legislative Attorney) or in partnership with legal staff (Legislative Advocate).
  • Collaborates with ACLU affiliate staff, responding to requests, participating in statewide issue team meetings, and preparing written summaries of the work. Facilitates alignment and communication around legislative objectives and strategy between coalition partners, affiliate teams, policymakers and their staffs, and other interested stakeholders.
  • Serves as a representative of California Action, presenting ACLU California Action’s positions in a clear and persuasive manner with partners at conferences, conventions, meetings, and other events.
  • Serves as a spokesperson on ACLU issues in the media and at public events as directed.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities

  • Demonstrated experience in policy advocacy, preferably in California and particularly at the State Capitol (3-5 years for emerging/mid professional level applicants; 7+ years for senior level applicants).
  • Juris doctorate or equivalent legal education (Legislative Attorney only, if hired in Advocate role this will not apply).
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct legal research and develop persuasive legal arguments (Legislative Attorney).
  • Demonstrated ability to analyze and articulate policy positions and communicate them to a variety of audiences.
  • Exceptional analytical and research skills.
  • Experience working on civil liberties and civil rights issues, preferably in California.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging principles; proactively prioritizes these principles in one’s work and approach to relationship building.
  • Demonstrated commitment to dismantling systems rooted in oppression and discrimination; demonstrated social justice and human rights knowledgebase.
  • Strong knowledge of the California policy-making process and governmental systems.
  • Superior written and oral communication skills when conveying complex policy positions in simple terms and preparing documents and presentations.
  • Willingness to work on variety of tasks and projects to advance our advocacy agenda. 
  • Resourceful, diplomatic, team-oriented, accountable, and sensitive to the needs our partners and staff.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively within a team environment and independently, with internal and external stakeholders, in large coalitions, and with diverse staff, activists, and public officials.
  • Strong relationship-building and interpersonal skills, enthusiasm, optimism, and a sense of humor.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment, at times work long hours, and balance a large portfolio of work; ability to manage one’s time independently and respect agreements, especially around due dates, timeliness, communications, and strategy.
  • Ability to work from Sacramento when the legislature is in session.
  • Proficient in common office communication and presentation software, such as Microsoft Office, Outlook, and Teams.

Leadership and management skills sufficient to lead large policy projects with complex and nuanced coalitions, positions, and stakeholders (senior level only).

Preferred Skills, Knowledge and Experience

  • Expertise and/or lived experience in one or more key advocacy areas, including criminal justice and law enforcement accountability, reproductive justice, LGBTQ equality, voting rights, immigrant rights, racial and economic justice, technology and privacy, and education equity.
  • Experience working in and with the criminal justice system as a policy expert, litigator, and/or advocate. 
  • Strong relationships with California policymakers, including members of the legislature, Governor’s Office and other executive branch officials, and their staffs.
  • Experience as a registered lobbyist in the State of California.**

Compensation & Benefits

This position comes with a generous compensation and benefits package. This includes top-quality, employer sponsored medical, dental and vision coverage for you and your family; a retirement plan with a 2% employer contribution—up to 5.5% with matching contributions; 22 paid vacation days, 10 days of sick time, and 20 paid holidays of the employee’s choice annually; and robust life, disability, accidental death and dismemberment, and critical illness insurance plans. Salary ranges from $95,000-135,000; employees also receive stipends for transportation and telework needs.

Selection Process

Please submit your resume no later than March 25, 2024 to [email protected] for consideration. If you have any questions about the position or our process, please reach out to Jack Zwald at [email protected] or 916-824-3263.

ACLU California Action is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please contact Jack Zwald at [email protected] or 916-824-3263.  If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request accommodation during the interview process.

ACLU Cal Action advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to all as part of a work environment free from discrimination. We encourage and welcome applicants who will work to further this commitment and add to the diversity of our organization on multiple dimensions including race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, exercising the right to family care and medical leave, genetic information, marital status, sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions), gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, military and veteran status, political affiliation, or arrest or conviction record. 

*Please note that as a 501(c)(4) organization our team members are not eligible to participate in most student loan forgiveness programs.

** Selected candidate will be required to register as part of ACLU Cal Action’s lobbyist team within 10 days of hire.