Des Moines



Deadline date

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning February 1, and will be accepted until the position is filled.

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Iowa seeks an experienced full-time staff attorney to develop, lead, and supervise litigation and related advocacy at the trial and appellate levels in federal and state courts and in administrative tribunals, reporting directly to the Legal Director. 

Founded in 1935, the ACLU of Iowa is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization which uses legal, legislative, and public education approaches to protect and promote individual rights and freedoms, including free speech rights, voting rights, LGBT equality, criminal justice reform, immigrants’ rights, reproductive freedom, women’s rights, racial justice, and privacy rights. 

The ACLU of Iowa is an affiliate of the national ACLU, the leading defender of civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.


  • Investigate and litigate selected civil liberties and civil rights cases. This includes factual and legal research, client and witness interviewing, preparation of legal memoranda, writing demand letters, drafting pleadings and briefs, discovery and motion practice, trials, and appeals in both state and federal courts, including court appearances as required to argue motions or oral argument on appeal, negotiating settlements, and writing amicus briefs.
  • Supervise junior legal staff, support staff, volunteers, law student interns, and legal fellows as assigned.
  • Help assess requests for legal assistance as assigned and identify appropriate cases for legal challenge.
  • Participate in a team of ACLU legal staff colleagues; volunteer attorneys; associated attorneys; co-counsel cases with other public interest groups; investigate civil liberties complaints that may lead to law reform litigation.
  • Engage in legal advocacy work to advance civil rights and civil liberties through non-litigation means such as writing public comments, public speaking, and public education efforts as assigned.
  • Provide legal analysis to other senior ACLU staff as directed by the Legal Director.
  • Advocate for civil liberties and serve as a spokesperson for the ACLU both with the press and as a public speaker, as assigned.
  • Work with other ACLU of Iowa program staff as assigned by Legal Director. Our office follows an
    integrated advocacy model, using legislative, legal, advocacy and communications strategies to achieve significant goals.


Work location is fairly flexible. Currently, this position would have the choice of primarily working remotely or in the office, with the requirement to be available and willing to work or meet in the office as needed or as assigned, as well as in person court requirements or to meet other client needs.


  • J.D. and law license required. At least three years of significant civil litigation experience required, with experience in federal courts strongly preferred. Individuals with more significant litigation experience are preferred and are also strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Iowa law license or, if licensed in a state other than Iowa, must be willing and able to become licensed in Iowa within six months of start date.
  • Substantive knowledge and understanding of constitutional law and civil liberties issues.
  • Ability to litigate independently and collaboratively, juggle multiple projects at once, and exercise good judgment under stressful situations.
  • Ability to research and quickly learn new, complex legal issues and build lawsuits on short notice in response to late-breaking events.
  • Ability to think creatively and use non-litigation strategies to promote ACLU of Iowa objectives, as part of an integrated advocacy team.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the preservation and vigorous enforcement of civil liberties. Firm commitment to the mission and principles of the ACLU.
  • A nuanced understanding of and experience with diversity; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, citizenship and immigration status, ability, and socio-economic circumstance.
  • Proficiency with computers: Macs and Microsoft Office in particular.
  • Proficiency with Westlaw.
  • Ability to manage a fast-paced and occasionally demanding schedule, as needed, to meet litigation or other program deadlines, working beyond 9 a.m.-5 p.m. as needed.
  • An enthusiastic, patient, and collegial style that inspires collaboration and functions decisively; flexible and well-organized.
  • Willingness to receive and respond to constructive criticism. 


  • Knowledge of languages likely to be spoken by clients with limited English proficiency is a plus, but not required.
  • Experience in non-profit advocacy or with other community-based groups is a plus, but not required.
  • Experience litigating class actions is a plus, but not required.
  • Experience litigating emergency motions (preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders, and temporary injunctions) in state and/or federal court strongly preferred, but not required.
  • Experience supervising other attorneys preferred, but not required.


Starting salary range is $82,000-98,000 annually, commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits are offered, including health and dental insurance plan, life and long-term disability insurance; 401(k); sick, vacation and holiday leave.

For exceptional candidates who possess the relevant and demonstrated skills and experience to run impact litigation cases in state and federal court with little to no supervision, additional compensation may be offered.


Submit a letter of interest, resume, two professional writing samples that are no longer than 7 pages each demonstrating thorough legal analysis and legal writing skills, and three professional references including their email, phone, and relationship to you, to Rita Bettis Austen at jobs@aclu-ia.org. No calls please. Please put “Experienced Staff Attorney” in the subject line of your email.

Applicants who proceed beyond a first interview will be required to complete a research-and-writing assignment.

In order to ensure your application is received, please make certain it is sent to the correct e-mail address. You can expect to receive an automatic response that acknowledges the submission of application materials. Please indicate where you learned of this opportunity.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status, record of arrest or conviction