Bakersfield preferred, but Los Angeles, Orange, or San Bernardino offices are possible. If the home office is in a location other than Bakersfield, Staff Attorney will be required to work frequently in Bakersfield.



Deadline date

Open until filled

The ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) seeks a staff attorney to build and lead litigation, legal, and policy advocacy to advance civil rights in Kern County, focusing on immigration, policing, and criminal justice issues. The attorney will also provide technical assistance to community groups, support movement-building, and develop advocacy to protect the rights of people impacted by the immigration and criminal justice systems.


The attorney will develop and litigate state and federal cases; create, implement, and participate in innovative advocacy and campaigns; engage in public education;
provide technical assistance on immigration-related issues to coalitions, community partners, government officials, and government bodies.

The attorney will advocate on the full range of immigrants’ rights, policing, and criminal justice issues on which the ACLU SoCal engages in Kern County. Litigation, advocacy, and public education campaigns might include: addressing unlawful ICE and local law enforcement practices; reducing immigration detention and addressing detention conditions; improving indigent criminal defense; challenging abusive and discriminatory policing practices; working to increase alternatives to policing and incarceration; and enhancing transparency, accountability, and responsiveness from elected officials’ offices. The attorney’s time will be divided into 50% immigrant rights, 50% policing, and criminal justice.

The attorney will be part of the dedicated staff of the ACLU SoCal’s Kern office and a member of the ACLU SoCal’s Immigrants’ Rights, Policing, and Criminal Justice Teams, as well as the California statewide immigrants’ rights, policing, and criminal justice teams. The attorney will also work with other attorneys, policy advocates, and organizers from other ACLU SoCal projects, and communications staff as needed and when intersectional issues arise.

The attorney will be supervised by a senior staff attorney in the Kern Office within the ACLU SoCal Advocacy Department.
Founded in 1923, the ACLU SoCal has been at the forefront of many major efforts to protect civil liberties, civil rights, and equal justice in California. Principled and nonpartisan, the ACLU SoCal has offices in Los Angeles, Orange County (Orange), the Inland Empire (San Bernardino), and Kern County (Bakersfield). The ACLU SoCal tackles a vast array of issues, including police practices, criminal justice, First Amendment rights, voting rights, gender equity, reproductive justice, LGBTQ rights, immigrants' rights, education equity, and economic justice.


Full-time, Exempt. Time-limited three-year position, with a possibility for future extension contingent upon additional funding.


The ACLU SoCal’s “integrated advocacy” model unites legal advocacy, policy advocacy, organizing, and base building for maximum impact. In keeping with that approach, the Attorney will work on cases, advocacy projects, public education, and campaigns. The attorney’s responsibilities will be the following:

  • Conduct legal advocacy and investigate, develop and litigate high-impact cases at the trial and appellate level in federal and state courts.
  • Lead litigation teams, serve as co-counsel and work in conjunction with other legal, policy, and organizing staff within the ACLU SoCal, the other two California ACLU affiliates, and partner organizations.
  • Serve as a policy expert and advocate on immigrants’ rights, policing, and criminal justice issues in support of legislation and other campaigns, with responsibilities including public speaking, media interviews, and outreach, as well as writing op-eds, reports, blogs, social media content, advocacy sign-on letters, fact sheets, and toolkits.
  • Provide technical support to community groups, advocates, and organizers in the region.
  • Run trainings for activists and organizers and support the Department’s volunteer engagement programs, as needed.
  • Establish and cultivate collaborative relationships with community partners, coalitions, stakeholders, and ACLU members.
  • Conduct outreach, advocacy, and provide technical assistance to public officials and government bodies.
  • Devise and present engaging "know your rights" presentations, trainings, and engage in public speaking. Organize, lead, and participate in community education events and meetings.
  • Organize and attend lobbying visits with state and local officials, provide testimony to administrative agencies and governing bodies, and develop and cultivate relationships with lawmakers and decision-makers to advance organizing and policy advocacy objectives.
  • Forge and maintain relationships with people impacted by the immigration system, community partners, decision-makers, government officials, allied organizations, and academics to implement collaborative projects and foster positive, effective working relationships.
  • Collaborate with and provide support to people in other ACLU affiliates in California and the Sacramento legislative office, as well as colleagues at the national ACLU.
  • Supervise interns.
  • If not based in the Bakersfield office, some regular travel to Bakersfield is required.
  • Other duties, as needed and assigned.


The ACLU SoCal anticipates hiring an attorney with 3-7 years of federal or state court litigation experience for this position but will consider all applicants with approximately that level of experience, strong advocacy, and litigation skills, and with a demonstrated commitment to civil and human rights, immigrants’ rights, and/or racial justice.


  • Excellent research, writing, analytic, and speaking skills.
  • Ability to develop and litigate impact cases.
  • Ability to work in diverse coalitions and develop advocacy campaigns.
  • Ability to participate in, create, and sustain inclusive and engaging spaces for all.
  • Ability to lead projects, build strong relationships, and work well in collaboration with others.
  • A deep commitment to the cause of civil liberties and civil rights.
  • Willingness to work occasional weekend and evening hours, as needed.
  • Extremely strong project and time management skills, including a high level of organization, attention to detail and follow-through, while balancing and prioritizing multiple activities and responsibilities.
  • Willingness to travel within Southern California as well as occasionally to other parts of the state.
  • Admitted to practice law in the state of California or willing to promptly take the California bar exam.


  • Experience in immigrants’ rights, policing, and/or criminal justice issues. People personally impacted by the immigration or criminal justice systems are encouraged to apply for this position. 
  • Familiarity with or experience working on social justice issues in Southern California and organizations working in those areas. 
  • Familiarity with Kern County or the Central Valley.
  • A demonstrated commitment to and track record of doing intersectional advocacy, using multiple and creative strategies to achieve a particular goal.
  • Spanish language fluency.


Understanding and Applying Racial Equity

  • Demonstrate commitment to building or deepening understanding of racial equity:
    • Core terms and concepts such as structural racism, white privilege, and anti-Blackness.
    • The role that racial inequity has played and continues to play in our society.
    • How race impacts supervisory relationships, team dynamics, and organizational culture.
    • Personal/implicit/unconscious bias.

Working for Racial Equity

  • Consistently assess structural implications and racially disproportionate impacts of policies, activities, and decisions within the context of their job responsibilities; race/ethnicity, intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, identity, and/or sexual orientation.
  • Consistently adhere to the organization’s racial equity policies and procedures, including those that relate to hiring, retention, and promotion.
  • Consistently identify and disrupt ways in which bias plays out in work and/or team.

Leading on Racial Equity

  • Effectively encourage people to have honest conversations about racial equity, and accept feedback openly, non-defensively, and from a posture of learning.
  • Consistently address structural implications and racially disproportionate impacts of policies, activities, and decisions by identifying and implementing changes that can produce more equitable outcomes. This applies not only in terms of race/ethnicity, but also at the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation.
  • Consistently set racial equity outcomes, goals, and performance measures for team, department, or organization, and develop and successfully implement plans to achieve them.


The salary range for this position is $67,500 - $83,250. Benefits include medical, vision, and dental insurance for staff members and their eligible dependents; life and long-term, short-term disability insurance; 401(k) plan with employer match; ample vacation and sick leave and fifteen paid holidays.


Please upload your resume, cover letter, and writing sample to our job application portal. 

Job Application Portal

The ACLU of Southern California is committed to developing a culture of diversity, equity, respect, and inclusion and to strive to maintain a workforce that reflects the communities that we serve. The ACLU SoCal is an equal opportunity employer that does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of any status or condition protected by applicable law. We encourage all qualified individuals to apply and value people of all races, genders (including gender identity or expression), sexual orientations, disabilities, citizenships, ages, religions, and national origins and who have different marital statuses, family caregiving responsibilities, lived experiences with the criminal justice systems, and genetic information. The ACLU SoCal does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of any of these characteristics.

The ACLU SoCal is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please e-mail cpinon@aclusocal.org. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request accommodation for the interview process.