The ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 civil liberties and civil rights organization working to advance equality, freedom, and justice. While there are many ACLU affiliate offices around the country, our work covers the length of California’s border with Mexico.

We work collaboratively with our sister affiliates in California, along the U.S-Mexico border, and with the National ACLU. In addition to these key relationships, the ACLUF-SDIC values partnerships and collaboration with community organizations and groups across the state and along the border.

The ACLUF-SDIC has a proven track record of success combining litigation, policy advocacy, legislation, research and analysis, public education, strategic communications, and community organizing to achieve meaningful social change.

As we move into a new era in which dangerous new policies threaten our civil rights and civil liberties, we remain dedicated to confronting these issues and defending the progress we have made. We must use our decades of experience in impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and organizing to fight back and protect our most cherished rights and freedoms.

Position Overview

The ACLUF-SDIC strives to defend and expand the rights of border residents, enforce the guarantees of the Constitution, and achieve equal justice under the law. Using targeted impact litigation, advocacy and public outreach, our border litigation docket carries on the ACLU’s commitment to protecting the rights and liberties of immigrants and communities of color along the border. Our border litigation docket lies at the intersection of racial justice, police practices, and immigrants’ rights issues, and provides ample opportunities for a committed civil rights attorney to work toward greater government accountability and social justice.

The ACLUF-SDIC seeks applicants for a one-year Border Litigation Legal Fellowship, to begin in Fall 2020.

Under the supervision of Senior Staff Attorney Mitra Ebadolahi, the Border Litigation Legal Fellow will:

  • Conduct legal research and prepare research memoranda, as assigned, on a variety of questions pertaining to civil and human rights violations by federal agents at or near the U.S.-Mexico border; and
  • Participate in all aspects of civil litigation, including client management, discovery, motion practice, trial, and appeals; and
  • Help manage public records requests projects; and
  • Develop practice advisories, model pleadings, and other reference materials to assist civil rights lawyers in litigating cases against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and/or Border Patrol; and
  • Review intakes and identify legal and advocacy strategies based on civilian complaints of border-related abuses, including drafting White Papers and administrative complaints;
  • Other assignments, as required.

Our Must Haves

  • J.D. or equivalent, and membership in the California State Bar (or plans to take the California State Bar Examination no later than July 2020).
  • Spanish language proficiency required (will be tested at time of interview).
  • Relevant civil rights experience on border, immigration, racial justice, national security, police practices, or other related issues.
  • Willingness and ability to travel, including across Border Patrol checkpoints and to and from Mexico as necessary.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding.
  • Excellent research, writing, analysis, and verbal communication skills, including the ability to translate complex legal and policy issues for diverse audiences.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills. A proven ability to work both independently and within a team while exhibiting flexibility and good judgment.
  • Strong time and project management skills, including a high level of organization, attention to detail, and follow-through, and demonstrated ability to balance and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities.
  • Self-motivated with the ability to take initiative; calmly manage a variety of tasks; and diligently see projects through to completion.
  • Demonstrated experience engaging in creative problem solving while utilizing a solutions-oriented approach.
  • A deep and demonstrated commitment to public interest law, civil liberties, immigrants’ rights, and racial and social justice.

A federal judicial clerkship and/or prior civil rights litigation experience is preferred, but not required.

About Our Culture

We are a diverse workforce and take pride in our ability to attract and retain employees with a huge array of backgrounds and experiences. We work hard but we also like to celebrate our successes. We take the time to high-five, eat together, and celebrate together.


This Fellowship is funded directly by the ACLUF-SDIC. Competitive public interest legal salary commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits include four weeks paid vacation; 13 office holidays; medical and dental insurance for staff members and their families; life- and long-term disability insurance; and 401(k) plan with employer match.

What Now?

Interested candidates should compile the following documents into one PDF file:

  1. a letter of interest;
  2. a resume or CV;
  3. unofficial law school and undergraduate degree transcripts;
  4. a legal writing sample unedited by others, not to exceed 5 double-spaced pages(excerpts from longer documents are fine); and
  5. the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two professional references for whom you have completed legal work.

Attach your one PDF file to an email with [Fall 2020 BLP Fellow] in the subject line. Emails should be sent to mebadolahi@aclusandiego.org.

DEADLINE: Applications will be accepted through Friday October 11, 2019.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, veterans, and people with arrest records and/or convictions.