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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