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Legal Fellow

  • Requisition no: 508921
  • Work type: Full Time
  • Location: Morningside
  • School/Department: Knight Institute
  • Grade: Grade 13
  • Categories: Legal
  • Job Type: Officer of Administration
  • Bargaining Unit:
  • Regular/Temporary: Temporary
  • End Date if Temporary: 2 years from hire (9/1/2023)
  • Hours Per Week: 35.0
  • Salary Range:

Position Summary

The Knight First Amendment Institute defends the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education. We aim to promote a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, that broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government.

Since its establishment in 2016, the Institute has filed precedent-setting litigation, undertaken major interdisciplinary research initiatives, and become an influential voice in debates about the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age. Its active litigation docket includes cutting-edge cases relating to transparency, surveillance, and social media. Through its research program, the Institute has published a series of influential essays focused on emerging threats to the system of free expression. It has also hosted public events on new technology and public discourse, data journalism and the law, the First Amendment and inequality, whistleblowers, leaks, and national-security journalism.

The Knight Institute seeks recent law school graduates interested in working with the Institute as legal fellows. The legal fellows will help litigate groundbreaking First Amendment cases and contribute to all aspects of the Institute’s work. Fellowships are full-time positions based at Columbia University in New York City. The Institute anticipates taking on between one and three fellows in the fall of 2021. Each fellowship will have a term of one or two years. Please indicate in your cover letter whether you would like to be considered for a one-year position, a two-year position, or both; if both, please indicate your preference.

The salary for this position will be based on the number of years of litigation experience you have. For example, fellows with two years of litigation experience will make approximately $95,000.


  1. Work alongside the Institute’s attorneys on all aspects of our litigation, including by conducting legal research and analysis; drafting legal pleadings; interviewing potential clients, witnesses, and experts; and participating in discovery and trial practice.
  2. Support the Institute’s research and public-education projects, including by drafting white papers, op-eds, and blog posts; representing the Institute in the media, as needed; and conceiving of and implementing public programs.
  3. Help determine which litigation and research priorities should guide the Institute’s work over the next few years.
  4. Work with legal externs and summer interns as they conduct research and draft memoranda in support of the Institute’s litigation efforts.
  5. Coordinate the summer legal internship.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Applicants must have a Juris Doctor degree, or equivalent (the responsibilities and expectations of the position are generally commensurate with zero to four years of litigation experience)
  • An interest in issues relating to the freedoms of speech and the press
  • Excellent research, analytical, writing, and interpersonal skills

Preferred Qualifications

Familiarity with the complex issues arising at the intersection of free speech and new technology is preferred but not required.

How to Apply

Candidates are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as possible, as we intend to review applications and make offers on a rolling basis. Candidates should submit their applications no later than October 23, 2020.

Applications should include the following materials in a single PDF:

  • Cover letter explaining your interest in the fellowship, including a description of any relevant life or work experience. (The fellowship is internally funded, but applicants who have access to external sources of funding should so indicate in their cover letter.)
  • Résumé
  • Official or unofficial law school transcript
  • One or two writing samples, at least one of which should include legal analysis. (You are strongly encouraged to submit writing samples that reflect solely your own work. If you are unable to do so, please explain the contributions of others to the writing.)
  • Two or three letters of recommendation (candidates should instruct recommenders to submit these letters directly to the Institute at

Equal Opportunity Employer / Disability / Veteran

Columbia University is committed to the hiring of qualified local residents.

Applications open: Eastern Daylight Time
Applications close: Eastern Daylight Time

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