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Staff Attorney

American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (ACLU-HI)

Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Job Type:
Job Status:
Full Time
  • Legal
American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (ACLU-HI)
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Job Details

American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i

Staff Attorney

Honolulu, Hawai'i

June 14, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i ACLU-HI) is seeking a skilled and self-motivated attorney to develop and litigate civil actions in state and federal court to protect and advance the civil liberties for all in Hawai'i. The staff attorney will also work under the direction of the ACLU of Hawai'i’s Legal Director and will have non-litigation advocacy responsibilities including public speaking and outreach.

ACLU-HI is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that defends and protects those civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the U.S. and Hawai'i constitutions and laws. Since 1965, ACLU-HI has been the state affiliate of the national ACLU, which for nearly 100 years has served as the nation’s premier guardian of the liberties that define our democracy.

The Hawai'i affiliate, with its office in Honolulu, has seven staff positions. ACLU-HI is two separate non-profit organizations: the ACLU of Hawai'i, a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation that primarily engages in lobbying and advocacy, and the ACLU of Hawai'i Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that primarily engages in litigation and public education.


Under the direction of the Legal Director, the Staff Attorney will be responsible for the administration and maintenance of an active legal docket, which includes litigation, responding to intake requests, informal resolution of legal issues, legislative work, public education, and advocacy.

Travel, as well as occasional work on nights and weekends, will be necessary. Along with all employees, the staff attorney is expected to help maintain a positive, respectful, welcoming, and professional work environment for employees and volunteers. 

The Staff Attorney position is an exempt employee position under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Roles and Responsibilities


  1. Developing and conducting litigation, with and without the assistance from outside cooperating attorneys, in federal and state courts and administrative forums. The Staff Attorney is responsible for identifying possible litigation and advocacy, preparing pleadings, motions, and briefs, conducting discovery, presenting oral arguments, and handling all aspects of appeals;
  2. Engaging in pre-litigation analysis, including evaluating and following up on intakes; conducting factual investigations and legal analyses; utilizing the Freedom of Information Law; and drafting demand letters;
  3. Seeking out and cultivating pro bono relationships and relationships with cooperating attorneys;
  4. Drafting or coordinating amicus briefs in cases of constitutional significance;
  5. Monitoring current civil liberties issues in the State;
  6. Maintaining contact with actual and potential ACLU clients; and
  7. Participating in strategic planning for and management of the legal department.

Advocacy and public education:

  1. Playing a supporting role in the advocacy work of the legal department, which includes working with the ACLU-HI’s advocacy, legislative and communications departments;
  2. Working with other advocacy organizations and elected officials;
  3. Presenting testimony before legislative bodies and administrative agencies; and
  4. Participating in public events and publishing articles and op-eds.


Legal Program Administration and Support:

  1. Developing and maintaining relationships with national ACLU staff and other affiliates;
  2. Contributing to the maintenance of the legal docket and intake database;
  3. Ensuring that Executive Director and Legal Director are adequately informed of work, including, preparing reports and providing other support as needed; and
  4. Maintaining all ACLU legal and litigation files (opening, archiving and upkeep); and
  5. Supervising and managing paralegals, fellows, interns, and volunteers.

Other duties may include assisting with fundraising, grant proposals and other tasks needed to promote the organization and its mission.


The ideal candidate for this position will have some successful experience with all aspects of litigation – including developing cases, all forms of discovery, motion practice, evidentiary hearings, and appeals -- involving constitutional and statutory issues in federal and state court; will have a demonstrated record of successful advocacy and legislative work; will have experience in public engagement, including public speaking, publishing, and interacting with the press; will have experience working with lawyers who handle federal litigation; and will have a demonstrated capacity to work effectively in a team and a public-interest environment.

Minimum Qualifications Required to Apply for the Position

Must have a J.D. from an accredited law school with excellent academic achievement and at least 3 years of relevant litigation experience. Must be licensed to practice law in the State of Hawai'i (or willing to take the next bar examination). Plaintiffs’ side work, previous experience in constitutional law and class action litigation, and federal court clerkship experience are a plus, as is experience or familiarity with the criminal justice system.

Must have ability to file and litigate cases independently and collaboratively; excellent problem-solving skills; ability to juggle multiple on-going projects and exercise good judgment under stressful situations; and ability to affirmatively prosecute civil rights violations.

Must also have superior writing, research and verbal skills in presenting both to lawyers and to the non-lawyer public; leadership and organizational skills in order to encourage volunteer lawyers and work cooperatively in coalitions on complicated cases; the ability to take initiative, think strategically, and share responsibility and credit.

Must have a commitment to diversity and ability to work collaboratively; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance.


Salary based on experience. Excellent benefits include paid vacation, medical and dental insurance, 401(k) plan, long-term disability insurance, sabbatical and generous paid holidays.


Applicants should submit a brief letter of interest, resume, writing sample, and the names and contact information of two references. Reference “Staff Attorney” in the subject line. If sending documents via e-mail, please send all materials as PDFs rather than Microsoft Word documents. Electronic submission of applications and correspondence is strongly preferred.

Alternatively, applications can be sent by mail to:

American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i
Staff Attorney Position

P.O. Box 3410
Honolulu, HI 96801

Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job listing.

This job description provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications required. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU-HI reserves the right to change the description and/or posting at any time without advance notice.

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, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, and veteran status. Individuals with personal experience with the criminal justice system are strongly encouraged to apply.

The ACLU undertakes affirmative action strategies in its recruitment and employment efforts to assure that persons with disabilities have full opportunities for employment in all positions.

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