The Institute for Free Speech anticipates the need for a highly experienced attorney to direct our litigation and legal advocacy. In September, President Trump nominated our longtime Legal Director to the Federal Election Commission, and it is likely he would be confirmed this fall.

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.

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

The Opportunity to Lead Our Legal Team

This is a rare opportunity to develop and implement a long-term legal strategy directed toward the protection of Constitutional rights. You would work to create legal precedents clearing away a thicket of laws and regulations that suppress speech about government and candidates for political office, that threaten citizens’ privacy if they speak or join groups, and that impose heavy burdens on organized political activity.

The litigation and legal advocacy you would oversee comprises about half of our program activities. The other half consists of traditional think tank work such as research, education, communications, and external relations.

The Legal Director Opening

The Legal Director will direct our litigation and legal advocacy, lead our in-house legal team, and manage and expand our network of volunteer attorneys.

The Legal Director must have extensive litigation experience and a broad background in legal advocacy. Ideally, the Legal Director will have deep First Amendment or constitutional law expertise. Familiarity with campaign finance or lobbying law is a significant plus. The Legal Director will work with senior management to set organizational priorities. The position reports directly to our President.

As a senior legal position with a leading nonprofit organization, it requires substantial travel (post-pandemic, we estimate 10-20% for the DC-based Legal Director), significant working hours, and the ability to act autonomously.

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

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement priorities for the legal program, including non-litigation legal work to protect free speech.
  • Identify and develop litigation opportunities to expand free speech.
  • Oversee all litigation and legal advocacy, supervising a team that presently includes seven attorneys, with plans to grow. Legal advocacy includes testimony before Congress and state legislatures and appearances in rulemakings and adjudications before the Federal Election Commission and other federal and state agencies.
  • Recruit new members of the legal team and oversee the team’s professional development.
  • Recruit volunteer attorneys to write amicus briefs, participate in litigation, or engage in other legal advocacy.
  • Serve as counsel of record in our most important cases.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with allied public interest law organizations.
  • Serve as a media spokesperson 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.

Professional Requirements and Qualifications

  • Passion for our mission to defend and expand political speech rights.
  • At least 10 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.
  • Proven innovator.
  • Strong leadership skills and a proven ability to exercise sound judgement.
  • 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, exceptional writing ability, and an ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Demonstrated understanding of civil rights and civil liberties issues, particularly in the areas of campaign finance regulation and associational privacy, is a significant plus.
  • Membership in good standing of a state bar, and eligibility for admission to the bar of the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Supreme Court.


We will pay a competitive salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits include 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 this position and why you are the best candidate. Please also explain your interest in the mission of the organization, and state your salary requirements.
  • Résumé.
  • A complete list of your bar memberships, if this is not on your résumé.
  • Your preferred work location and availability to work full time from our headquarters or for periodic travel to Washington, DC.
  • Two writing samples of legal briefs that are an accurate representation of your legal writing in litigation practice.
  • At least one writing sample of an article, essay, or academic writing.
  • If you are selected for an interview, you will be asked to provide a list of at least four references, including at least one supervisor and one direct supervisee. You may include some or all of these references as part of your application.

Submit your application to Talent Market via this link:

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

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 summer, 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 are provided. Applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, three references, and a writing sample to Allen Dickerson, the Institute’s Legal Director, at Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

The Institute for Free Speech (IFS) seeks fall and spring interns to aid our External Relations, Research, and Communications Departments. Please note that, due to the ongoing pandemic, all internships at this time will 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 McCain-Feingold style regulation of campaign funding and other restrictions that limit the ability of citizens to participate in the political process and support the candidates and causes of their choice.


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

  • Conducting original research and producing both short-term and long-term research products in the area of campaign finance and political speech regulation
  • Drafting short Issue Analyses on topical campaign finance issues
  • Authoring brief research critiques of publications released by proponents of greater political speech regulation
  • Authoring occasional op-eds critiquing the claims of those who advocate for greater regulation of political speech
  • Blogging regularly on campaign finance and political speech issues with the guidance of an IFS supervisor
  • Watching and attending 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
  • Helping out with other projects and administrative tasks, as needed

Fall and spring interns at IFS will also aid the Communications Director and Media Manager by:

  • Helping compile stories for the Institute’s signature daily Media Update
  • Tracking media coverage of the Institute’s issues
  • Updating the Institute’s various distribution lists
  • Updating and maintaining the organization’s website on a daily basis


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, solid 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 will receive a full travel stipend via Metro.

Application Instructions

Qualified candidates should send the following to External Relations Director Matt Nese via e-mail in one combined PDF at

  • Cover letter indicating interest in the internship 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 one professional or character reference
  • An unofficial transcript of all college-level classes

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. A fall start date is flexible, preferably in late August or early September. A spring date is flexible as well, preferably in late January or early February.

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap