Senior Policy Counsel or Policy Counsel

Position: Senior Policy Counsel or Policy Counsel – Criminal Legal Reform, Post-Arrest 

Department: Policy

Terms of Employment: Full-Time/Non-Exempt

Location: New York, NY 10005

Salary:  Subject to the NYCLU’s attorney salary scale, which is based on the year graduated from law school. (new law-school graduates currently start at $66,000) *
Application Deadline: Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and will be considered until hiring is complete.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is one of the nation’s leading advocates on behalf of constitutional rights and liberties. Founded in 1951, as the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, the NYCLU is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization with more than 180,000 members and supporters, and seven offices statewide. We work in the courts, in the legislatures and on the streets to advocate for racial and economic justice, free speech, freedom of religion, privacy and equality before the law for all New Yorkers. For more information, please visit our website:


The NYCLU affirmatively values the humanity and contributions of those we work with, inside and outside of the organization; and will take action to build and sustain an equitable, anti-racist culture that centers the voices and experiences of marginalized and directly impacted people and communities, and an organizational environment where all people feel valued, trusted, and respected. We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and having a workforce that reflects the population that we serve and actively recruit people of color, women, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, and LGBTQ and gender non-conforming people.


The NYCLU seeks an experienced and innovative Senior Policy Counsel or Policy Counsel (together “Counsel”) to lead a broad docket that is focused on issues to enhance the rights and liberties of criminal legal system-involved New Yorkers after arrest. Issues that the Counsel may work on include advocacy on bail, discovery, and speedy trial reforms; alternatives to incarceration; parole and sentencing reform; rehabilitation and re-entry into the community; ending solitary confinement; and conditions of confinement and community supervision. 

The NYCLU’s Policy Department implements and monitors legislative and policy initiatives across the state that implicate constitutional rights and liberties. The Policy Department drafts and supports affirmative legislation that advances constitutional freedoms, and opposes laws, rules, and policies that would compromise those freedoms. The work of the Policy Department includes (a) representing the NYCLU at the state legislative session in Albany, (b) monitoring and advocating before the New York City Council, (c) engaging in advocacy with other municipal bodies, in close collaboration with the NYCLU’s regional offices, and (d) engaging in rulemaking and implementation efforts. This work involves technical research, extensive written analysis and commentary, direct lobbying of and engagement with lawmakers and agency officials, collaboration with our Legal Department on litigation, collaboration with our Field Organizing team on campaign priorities, public education and testimony, supervision and management of personnel and campaign work, strategic communications and media in close collaboration with our colleagues from the Communications team, and coalition building that engages NYCLU members and allied organizations. The successful candidate will implement these strategies in advancing their docket. 

We are seeking a candidate who thrives in a collaborative organization and can skillfully handle diverse approaches to advance policy reform. The successful candidate is a creative thinker and collaborates well both internally and with external partners. When designing and managing campaigns to enhance the rights of New Yorkers who interact with the criminal legal system, Counsel must work closely with the NYCLU’s Policy, Legal, Field Organizing, and Communications Departments. 

The Counsel will report to the Deputy Policy Director. The title of “Senior” Policy Counsel is reserved for counsel with at least 6 years of experience in legal or policy advocacy, and the interest and ability to supervise projects within the Policy team and devise strategies and tactics to move our civil rights advocacy forward.


  • Devise and manage short- and long-term campaigns to protect and expand the rights of criminal defendants and incarcerated New Yorkers in coordination with the NYCLU’s other functional departments (Legal, Field Organizing, and Communications). 
  • Engage in legislative and administrative advocacy, including: developing legal and policy positions on local and state legislation, agency actions, proposed rules, directives, and ballot measures; drafting and editing new legislation and      model policies; drafting comments to proposed rules and regulations; drafting local and state advocacy materials; writing and providing testimony; and sharing expertise with policymakers. 
  • Build and maintain relationships with organizations led by people who have been directly impacted by the criminal legal system, criminal defense experts, public interest groups, government officials, community stakeholders, and academics to engage them in our work and implement collaborative projects, and foster positive working relationships with state and national ACLU staff. 
  • Serve as a key spokesperson and resource for the NYCLU in the press, in internal discussions and strategy development, and in NYCLU publications. 
  • Monitor legal and policy developments on an array of post-arrest issues nationwide and in New York. 
  • For Senior Policy Counsel, supervise fellows in a manner that supports their professional development, communicate transparent expectations and feedback. 
  • Actively support the NYCLU’s internal and external commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 



  • J.D. degree. 
  • 2+ years of experience in legal or public policy advocacy in areas at the intersection of criminal legal system reform, due process, racial justice, and civil rights. 
  • Initiative, vision, and ability to develop and implement short and long-term policy strategies utilizing a broad range of political and legal tactics. 
  • Strong communications skills, including the ability to communicate in both writing and verbally to a variety of audiences. 
  • Excellent research and analytical skills. 
  • Fluency in the procedures and vocabulary of the criminal legal system. 
  • Ability to develop and implement strategic initiatives and manage multiple issues at once in a fast-paced environment. 
  • Strong project and time management skills, including a high level of organization, attention to detail, and follow-through. 
  • Demonstrated experience engaging in creative problem solving, strategic flexibility, and good judgment. 
  • Ability to develop allies and work collaboratively and diplomatically. 
  • A strong commitment to diversity and a personal approach that values and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socioeconomic circumstances. 
  • Willingness to travel within New York State for speaking events, meetings, and conferences.


  • Litigation experience, particularly direct representation of income-qualified clients. 
  • Experience with the New York State Legislature. 
  • Demonstrated experience engaging and working with and/or on behalf of underrepresented communities. 
  • A background in criminal defense work.


Please submit your resume, cover letter (describing your unique qualifications for this position and how you learned of this job posting), and a recent policy writing sample not to exceed 10 pages that is wholly your own unedited work (this may include testimony, legislative analysis, or public facing commentary on a policy issue) via . Please submit these materials as a single PDF.

The NYCLU is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from all qualified individuals regardless of race, sex, gender identity or expression, age, disability, religion, national origin, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, veteran status, record of arrest or conviction or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and having a workforce that reflects the communities that we serve.

The NYCLU 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 e-mail If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

This position may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. 

* Starting salary is based on the 2022 attorney scale and is expected to increase by September 2023.