The Institute for Free Speech is hiring a Senior Attorney with a minimum of seven years of experience.

About the Institute for Free Speech

Founded in 2005 by former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley A. Smith, the nonpartisan Institute for Free Speech promotes and defends First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government.

Litigation and legal advocacy comprise about half of our program activities. The other half consists of traditional think tank work, such as research, education, communications, and external relations.

This position supports our litigation efforts.

The Opportunity to Litigate for Free Speech

This is a rare opportunity to work with a growing team to litigate a long-term legal strategy directed toward the protection of Constitutional rights. We challenge laws, practices, and policies that infringe upon First Amendment freedoms, such as speech codes that censor parents at school board meetings, laws restricting people’s ability to give and receive campaign contributions, and any intrusion into people’s private political associations. You would work to hold censors accountable; and to secure legal precedents clearing away a thicket of laws, regulations, and practices that suppress speech about government and candidates for political office, threaten citizens’ privacy if they speak or join groups, and impose heavy burdens on political activity.


  • Serve as counsel of record responsible for all stages of litigation, including: initial case formation; research; discovery, including taking and defending depositions; writing correspondence; writing complaints, memoranda, and briefs; motion practice; and court appearances.
  • Interview clients, figure out what is important and what is not, and create brief coherent, concise stories worth telling in court that would effectively advance our mission to secure First Amendment rights – at the district court level and on appeal.
  • Assist in writing advocacy materials, including legal backgrounders, blog posts, and opinion articles.
  • Occasionally write or assist with writing legal analysis of legislative, regulatory, and policy initiatives.
  • Serve as a media spokesperson in cases and as a speaker at conferences and meetings held by other organizations.
  • Advise our communications team on articles and publications covering our litigation and legal advocacy.
  • As our practice is national in scope, this position requires litigation-related travel.

A preference will be given to candidates who can work in our Washington, D.C. headquarters. However, we will consider strong candidates living and working virtually from anywhere in the country. In addition to litigation or advocacy-related travel, a virtual candidate would be required to travel for quarterly week-long visits to IFS’s headquarters after the pandemic’s impact has receded.

Professional Requirements and Qualifications

Applicants must have demonstrated, recent experience in conducting and, preferably, creating, meaningful federal civil litigation. Strong writing skills and the ability to “get” how litigation works are each a must, as is proficiency in Microsoft Word. We are not looking for law review articles, think pieces, or copy editors. We need a hands-on, practical, self-starting litigator who can bring and navigate a case from start to finish. If you have not done that well and recently, please apply for a more suitable position when we have one available. The abilities to act autonomously, and to put in litigation-level hours when needed, are required.

  • Passion for our mission to defend and expand political speech rights.
  • At least seven years of active trial litigation experience in complex cases with proven first-chair experience in federal court. Federal clerkships may substitute up to two years of that experience. Mere supervisory, editing, or management experience is insufficient.
  • Ideally, you will have deep First Amendment or constitutional law expertise. Familiarity with campaign finance or lobbying law is a plus.
  • Proven innovator.
  • Strong leadership skills and a proven ability to exercise sound judgment.
  • Meticulously organized and detail-oriented approach to work product and a demonstrated ability to work collaboratively in a fast-paced environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines, and work long hours when required.
  • Strong verbal and interpersonal skills and exceptional writing ability.
  • Demonstrated understanding of civil rights and civil liberties issues.
  • Membership in good standing of a state bar or the D.C. Bar. If not admitted to the D.C. Bar, you must be eligible for such admission. You must also be admitted or eligible for admission to the U.S. Supreme Court bar.


We will pay a competitive salary commensurate with experience. Our comprehensive benefits package includes an excellent health insurance plan, dental insurance, vision care, health savings account, 16 days of paid office holidays, paid time off, paid parental leave, long-term disability insurance, commuting benefits, and a 401(k) with low-cost funds and an employer match.

To Apply

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Qualified candidates should submit the following in one PDF file:

  • Cover letter detailing interest in the position and why we should hire you. Please also explain your interest in the Institute for Free Speech’s mission and state your salary requirements.
  • Résumé.
  • A complete list of your bar memberships, if not included on your résumé.
  • Your preferred work location and availability to work full time from our headquarters or for periodic travel to Washington, D.C.
  • A list of all federal civil cases that you have actively litigated within the past three years. For each case, please provide a one-line description of the case and your role in it, and, additionally, a brief summary of what you have done in litigating it (e.g., researched and drafted complaint, deposed two witnesses, briefed and argued appeal, etc.).
  • At least two legal briefs that you primarily wrote and filed in federal civil cases within the previous three years.
  • If you are selected for an interview, you will be asked to provide a list of at least three references. You may include some or all of these references as part of your application.

Submit your application to Talent Market via this link:

There is no application deadline for this position. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. This job will remain posted on our site until it is filled.

Questions can be directed to Katelynn Barbosa, Talent Engagement Manager at Talent Market, who is assisting with the search:

While we thank all applicants in advance for their interest in this position, we are only able to contact those to whom we can offer an interview. Only direct applications will be considered. No phone calls, please.

Talent Market is a nonprofit entity dedicated to promoting liberty by helping free-market nonprofits identify talent for critical roles. We provide free consulting and recruiting services to free-market think tanks, policy organizations, research centers, and capacity-building institutions dedicated to advancing the principles of limited government and free enterprise.

The Institute for Free Speech’s First Amendment Fellowship allows recent law school graduates, judicial clerks, and mid-career attorneys the chance to gain practical experience litigating constitutional challenges. Fellows will work alongside the Institute’s attorneys to tackle all aspects of trial and appellate practice in cases challenging restrictions on Americans’ rights to freely speak, publish, assemble, and petition.

Fellowships are for one year, typically beginning each August or September, and are intended to prepare attorneys for careers in constitutional advocacy. The fellowship is excellent preparation for a judicial clerkship, a career change, a public interest litigation career, academia, or private practice. It can also lead to a permanent position at the Institute for Free Speech.

Fellows are expected to work full time in our Washington, D.C. office, but other arrangements may be available to especially outstanding candidates.

A competitive salary and benefits will be provided. Our comprehensive benefits package includes an excellent health insurance plan, dental insurance, vision care, health savings account, 16 days of paid office holidays, paid time off, paid parental leave, long-term disability insurance, commuting benefits (for those working in our Washington, D.C. office), and a 401(k) with low-cost funds and an employer match.

Applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, contact information for three professional and/or character references, and a writing sample in one combined PDF file to Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis for fellows seeking a position in the 2022-23 term.

The Institute for Free Speech (IFS) seeks winter interns to aid our External Relations, Research, and Communications Departments. Please note that, due to the ongoing pandemic, all internships may be conducted remotely.

Founded by former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley A. Smith as a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization, the Institute for Free Speech (formerly the Center for Competitive Politics) exists to inform the public through litigation, policy analysis, media outreach, and educational activities on the benefits of freedom and dynamism in the area of campaign finance and election law. We promote and defend the First Amendment political rights of speech, press, assembly, and petition and oppose restrictions that limit the ability of citizens to participate in the political process and support the candidates and causes of their choice.


Primarily, winter interns at the Institute for Free Speech will aid the External Relations Director and Research Director by:

  • Conducting original research and producing a short-term research project in the area of campaign finance or political speech regulation
  • Authoring brief critiques of publications released by proponents of greater political speech regulation
  • Monitoring hearings on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures when necessary
  • Attending relevant policy and networking events at other organizations during office hours and infrequently after close of business, if circumstances allow
  • Assisting with other projects and administrative tasks, as needed

Winter interns will also aid the Communications Director and Media Manager by:

  • Blogging regularly on campaign finance and political speech issues with the guidance of the Communications Director
  • Authoring occasional op-eds critiquing the claims of those who advocate for greater regulation of political speech and arguing for a robust treatment of First Amendment freedoms
  • Identifying and excerpting stories for the Institute’s signature Daily Media Update
  • Tracking media coverage of the Institute’s issues
  • Updating the Institute’s various distribution lists
  • Maintaining the organization’s website


Qualified candidates should have an interest in political science or election law and in defending the First Amendment. The most qualified candidates will have completed at least two years of undergraduate study.

Prospective interns should also have the following skills and experience: excellent writing skills, strong analytical ability and internet research skills, familiarity with Microsoft Office applications, including Outlook, Word, and Excel, a detail-oriented personality, strong initiative, demonstrated resourcefulness, and a willingness to take on a variety of assignment types — working both independently and as part of a team. Candidates should be politically aware, though no specific political preference is required.

Full-time interns may receive a stipend, as conditions and professional experience warrant. All interns working on-site will receive a full travel stipend via Metro.

To Apply

Qualified candidates should email the following to External Relations Director Matt Nese in one combined PDF to

  • Cover letter indicating your interest in the internship, desired focus (research, communications, etc.), and available work dates
  • Current resume
  • Two writing samples reflecting solely the applicant’s own work (preferably about 5 pages in length each)
  • A quantitative research sample, if available (likely via an Excel spreadsheet or an economics or statistics paper)
  • Contact information for at least two professional or character references
  • An unofficial transcript of all college-level classes

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. A winter start date is flexible, preferably in early to mid-January.

The 2022 Institute for Free Speech Summer Associate Legal Fellowship is a unique opportunity for current law school students to explore a career in public interest and First Amendment law. The program is open to students who will finish their first or second year of law school by the summer of 2022.

Fellows are expected to work full time for 10 weeks in our Washington, D.C. headquarters, but other arrangements may be available to especially outstanding candidates.

Fellows are eligible to earn $10,000 in salary for their 10 weeks of employment.

During the fellowship, students will work with Institute for Free Speech attorneys for a portion of their time. Each fellow will also be expected to complete a project. Applicants are encouraged to be creative in suggesting a project as part of their application. While many projects may produce papers suitable for publication, we will consider any project related to protecting or advancing First Amendment rights.

About the Institute for Free Speech

The nonpartisan Institute for Free Speech is a leading voice promoting and defending First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government.

Our specialty is the regulation of political activity. Our legal work primarily challenges campaign finance and lobbying laws that restrict First Amendment rights. However, we also represent clients in First Amendment challenges to laws that limit speech about government, and we engage publicly on the full range of free expression protected by the First Amendment.

To Apply

Applicants should submit a cover letter, brief (300-500 words) personal statement explaining what called you to public interest work and the Institute for Free Speech’s mission, resume, law school transcript, names of three references, and a writing sample to in one combined PDF file that contains your name in the file name. Please include “Summer Associate Legal Fellowship” in the subject line, and indicate how you learned about this opportunity in your email.

Those with interest are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible. Applications received after November 30, 2021 will not be eligible for a $10,000 salaried fellowship. Applications received after November 23 will be at a strong disadvantage. Additional fellowships may be available after November 30, but compensation is not guaranteed.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis starting September 1, 2021. Early applicants are likely to have a competitive advantage. Those selected for the $10,000 salaried fellowship will be notified by December 20, 2021. If other fellowships are offered, the notification date may be as late as March 2022.

All applicants for a $10,000 paid fellowship must complete their first or second year of law school by the start of their fellowship and be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident. Other summer fellowships may be available for those who lack these requirements.

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