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Legal Director for American Civil Liberties Union of Florida in Miami, FL

Monday, January 28, 2019 10:38 AM | Nakia Ruffin (Administrator)

ACLU of Florida

Legal Director

American Civil Liberties Union of Florida

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida seeks a Legal Director to lead its litigation and legal advocacy programs. The Legal Director is a visionary strategic thinker with the passion, drive, and creativity to lead a dynamic, progressive team focused on using reform litigation to defend and expand civil rights and civil liberties. The Legal Director possesses significant supervisory experience and is a key member of the senior management team that shapes the ACLU’s work in Florida.


The ACLU of Florida, the state’s premier public advocacy organization, is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization that employs litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education and communications to protect and promote a broad range of individual rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech, voting rights, racial justice, privacy, religious liberty, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and immigrants’ rights.

The ACLU-FL is an affiliate of the national ACLU, the leading defender of civil liberties guaranteed by our nation’s Bill of Rights. The national ACLU implements its vital civil liberties mission in all 50 states in large part through affiliate entities such as the ACLU-FL. Operating out of offices in Jacksonville, Miami (main), Pensacola, and Tampa, the Florida affiliate has a $5.5M operating budget and 34 staff positions, placing it among the larger affiliates in the nation.

The Executive Director is responsible for and leads the day-to-day operations and oversees the senior leadership team in shaping the work of the ACLU of Florida. The Legal Director, a critical member of the organization’s senior management team, reports directly to the Executive Director and provides strategic leadership and coordination regarding both litigation and non-litigation legal advocacy undertaken by the ACLU of Florida. In addition, the Legal Director works in close coordination with the legislative advocacy team, field programs, and education/communications programs, as well as with the national ACLU staff, using an integrated advocacy model.

Role of the Legal Director

The Legal Director is based in the ACLU-FL’s Miami office and is responsible for helping to set overall legal strategy to advance the mission of the organization and, in collaboration with the Deputy Legal Director, for the day-to-day management of the legal staff and the ACLU-FL legal docket. The Legal Director, who will come to the role as an experienced manager, is ultimately responsible for the supervision of a team of the Associate Legal Director and six staff attorneys working statewide, paralegal, Legal Program Associate, and legal interns, and, through the Legal Program Associate, the organization’s intake system. The Legal Director also works with a Board-appointed Legal Panel of advisors to advance the legal work of the organization.

The ACLU of Florida Legal Director has primary responsibility for coordinating the selection of cases based on ACLU policy, organizational priorities, and capacity. The Legal Director also oversees the development of cases prior to the commencement of litigation and the conduct of litigation thereafter.

The Legal Director must be a creative, strategic and tactical thinker with a courageous and imaginative approach to advocacy. While the Legal Director may maintain an individual caseload, they will primarily work with the legal staff and cooperating attorneys on litigation and advocacy efforts, aiding in case preparation, trial work, and appellate work when necessary.

In addition, the Legal Director is a highly visible spokesperson for the ACLU, working closely with the communications and public policy departments, speaking regularly to print and broadcast journalists and at public forums, and otherwise advocating for civil rights and civil liberties both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion. At times, the Legal Director assists in fundraising efforts by participating in meetings with major donors and otherwise working with ACLU-FL’s development staff to ensure continuing funding for our work.

Major Objectives

The ACLU-FL expects the Legal Director to lead and, in collaboration with the Associate Legal Director, manage the staff collegially in a manner that is consistent with the mission, vision, and values of the ACLU.

Specifically, the Legal Director will:

  • Successfully manage legal staff across four offices in Florida;
  • Participate actively in regular strategic and tactical advocacy sessions in close partnership with the Executive Director, Senior Staff, Board, and National office;
  • Continue to develop an aggressive impact litigation and advocacy docket that advances the ACLU-FL’s strategic priorities and responds to civil rights and civil liberties threats;
  • Provide systematic planning and reporting, including items such as budgets and regular status reports;
  • Continue to build an organizational culture within the legal program that encourages and mentors the staff, both internally and externally;
  • Broaden and deepen the relationships among the ACLU-FL’s core constituents and volunteer attorneys and help to increase the growth and visibility of the organization.

Professional Qualifications

While no one person will embody all of the qualities enumerated below, the successful candidate will bring many of the following qualifications and attributes:

  • Demonstrated commitment to civil rights and civil liberties consistent with the mission and goals of the ACLU;
  • Ten years or more of trial and appellate litigation experience at the state and federal levels, including class actions, with a strong background in constitutional, civil rights, and criminal law litigation;
  • Senior level management experience in recruiting, training, managing and motivating a diverse, high-performing legal team;
  • Demonstrated record of moving legal cases forward at all levels of the judiciary, with experience working with clients from diverse constituencies;
  • Excellent communication skills, including written, spoken and analytical skills;
  • Significant experience representing and working with activists in grassroots organizations and non-governmental organizations;
  • Experience working in nonprofit settings that are governed by a volunteer board of directors;
  • Familiarity and/or experience with raising funds from foundations and in solicitations of donors.

Florida Bar admission is required. An attorney not admitted to the Florida Bar shall seek admission as soon as feasible and be admitted within a year after employment.

Personal Characteristics

The following characteristics are sought in the Legal Director:

  • A deep personal commitment to and passion for advancing civil rights and civil liberties;
  • Excellent organizational skills and a creative approach to problem-solving and litigation;
  • A creative thinker with an ability to recognize and maximize opportunities for the organization;
  • A team-building and collegial management style, including effective communications skills, a warm personal style that commands respect, and a sense of humor;
  • Integrity.


Salary is commensurate with similarly-situated nonprofit advocacy organizations, based on experience and qualifications. Excellent benefits include health and dental insurance, a defined contribution retirement plan, and generous vacation, holiday and medical leave policies.


To apply, send a letter of application, resume and two writing samples via email to jobs@aclufl.org including in the subject line: “Legal Director Position.” In your cover letter, please indicate where you learned of this posting. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

The ACLU-FL is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from all qualified individuals including women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Fluency in Spanish desired but not required language.

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