The Institute for Free Speech is searching for a highly experienced attorney to direct our litigation and legal advocacy. In September, President Trump announced the nomination of our longtime Legal Director to the Federal Election Commission. The Senate voted to confirm our Legal Director in early December, and the Institute for Free Speech is in the process of interviewing qualified applicants to fill the vacancy on our staff.

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 the 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 Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

The Institute for Free Speech Summer Associate Legal Fellowship is a unique opportunity for law 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 2021.

Fellows are expected to work full time for 10 weeks in our Washington, D.C. area headquarters, but other arrangements may be available to especially outstanding candidates. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the possibility remains that fellows will work remotely for some or all of the summer fellowship.

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, a description of one or more suggested projects, resume, law school transcript, three references, and a writing sample to in one PDF file. Please include “Summer Associate Legal Fellowship” in the subject line and in your email please indicate how you learned about this opportunity.

Those with interest are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible. Applications received after March 1, 2021 will not be eligible for a $10,000 paid fellowship. Additional fellowships may be available after March 1, but compensation is not guaranteed.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis starting January 25, and early applicants are likely to have a competitive advantage.

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.

The Institute for Free Speech (IFS) seeks summer 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 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, summer 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

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

  • Blogging regularly on campaign finance and political speech issues with the guidance of an IFS supervisor
  • 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, 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 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 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 summer start date is flexible, preferably in mid-late May or early June.

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