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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press was founded by leading journalists and media lawyers in 1970 when the nation’s news media faced an unprecedented wave of government subpoenas forcing reporters to name confidential sources. Fifty years later, we are the only national organization focused on providing pro bono legal services to reporters and news outlets. Our mission is to protect the right to gather and distribute the news; to keep government accountable by ensuring access to public records, meetings, and courtrooms; and to preserve the principles of free speech and unfettered press, as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Each year, the Reporters Committee welcomes legal fellows to our Washington, D.C., office. They monitor significant developments in media law, assist staff attorneys responding to legal defense requests from reporters, assist staff attorneys in preparing legal memoranda, litigation materials and friend-of-the-court briefs, and handle other special projects. In addition, fellows write content for our website and for other publications. The work is challenging, but rewarding! We are currently accepting applications for the following fellowships:
Inasmuch Foundation Legal Fellowship
The Inasmuch Foundation Legal Fellowship is a one-year fellowship that focuses on First Amendment issues, primarily involving libel, invasion of privacy, and protection of confidential sources and materials. It is funded by the Inasmuch Foundation. The fellowship stipend is $65,000, with fully paid health benefits and 401k with up to a 5% match from day one.
Jack Nelson–Dow Jones Foundation Legal Fellowship
The Jack Nelson–Dow Jones Foundation Legal Fellowship for a recent law school graduate honors Reporters Committee founder Jack Nelson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who for many years was Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, and the Dow Jones Foundation, which has been generously supporting the Reporters Committee since 1973. Nelson, who died in 2009, is a former chair of the Executive Committee of the Reporters Committee and served on its Steering Committee for 25 years. The Dow Jones Foundation, established in 1954, supports organizations involved with journalism and press freedom, literacy and education as well as arts and culture.
The Jack Nelson–Dow Jones Foundation Legal Fellow focuses on state and federal freedom of information law. The fellow can expect to participate in many aspects of trial and appellate court litigation handled by Reporters Committee attorneys in these areas, including the filing of open records requests, motion practice, discovery, brief writing, and hearing/oral argument preparation. The fellow will also have an opportunity to contribute to RCFP’s amicus and policy work and to assist in responding to inquiries from journalists and news organizations on FOI law. The fellowship stipend is $65,000, with fully-paid health benefits and 401k with up to a 5% match from day one.
Stanton Foundation National Security/Free Press Fellowship
The Stanton Foundation National Security/Free Press Fellowship is an exciting opportunity for an early-career lawyer to play a hands-on role in the full scope of First Amendment and free press legal and policy matters at the Reporters Committee. The Stanton Foundation National Security/Free Press Fellow is an integral member of the Technology and Press Freedom Project at the Reporters Committee and works closely with the Legal Director, the Technology and Press Freedom Project Director, staff attorneys, and other legal fellows in maintaining an active litigation docket related to national security and press rights.
The Stanton Foundation National Security/Free Press Fellow will participate in all aspects of state and federal litigation at both the trial and appellate level, including motion practice, discovery, brief writing, and hearing/oral argument preparation. The Stanton Foundation National Security/Free Press Fellow will also take on a leadership role in integrated advocacy—combining law, policy analysis and public education—around emerging issues at the intersection of technology, national security, and press freedom. Past fellows have, for instance, helped lead the organization’s work around press rights at the border and around electronic surveillance law.
Candidates for this challenging and rewarding two-year fellowship should have a demonstrated interest in the First Amendment and technology law, particularly as it applies to the media. Post-law school judicial clerkship, fellowship, and/or litigation experience with a law firm or public interest organization is preferred, as is some training in a STEM field at the undergraduate or graduate level. However, recent law school graduates with strong credentials will be considered and are encouraged to apply. Applicants should be admitted to practice law in at least one U.S. jurisdiction or awaiting bar exam results/admission in at least one U.S. jurisdiction at the start of the fellowship term. Applicants who are not members of the D.C. Bar will be required to seek admission. The Stanton Foundation Fellow will be paid an annual salary of $80,000 and will receive full health benefits and 401k with up to a 5% match from day one.
The Stanton Foundation was created by Frank Stanton, the president of CBS from 1946 to 1971. Among his accomplishments at the network’s helm, Stanton initiated the first televised presidential debates — the famous Kennedy-Nixon “Great Debates,” developing a format that subsequently became a staple of electoral politics. The foundation’s interests include classic and 21st-century First Amendment issues and the larger challenge of creating a better-informed citizenry.
Technology and Press Freedom Project Legal Fellowship
The Technology and Press Freedom Project Legal Fellowship is a one-year fellowship that focuses on technology law and related issues. The fellow is an integral part of the Technology and Press Freedom Project at the Reporters Committee, which combines law, policy analysis and public education to advocate for the First Amendment rights and freedom of information interests of the news media and the public. The project works on an array of issues at the intersection of the First Amendment, media law and technology, including reporter-source confidentiality protections, content moderation and regulation, and the impact of complex regulatory regimes, such as antitrust or telecommunications regulations, on the news media. The salary for this position is $65,000 per year, with fully paid health insurance, paid time off, 401k and other benefits.
Borealis Racial Equity in Journalism Fund Legal Fellowship
Borealis Philanthropy has awarded a grant to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press for a one-year legal fellowship in order to expand its capacity to better identify, support, and address the legal needs of journalists of color, newsrooms led by people of color, and reporters covering issues pertinent to communities of color, across the country. The Borealis Racial Equity in Journalism Fund Legal Fellow will be part of a team of Reporters Committee attorneys who provide pro bono legal services to individual journalists, including documentary filmmakers, and news organizations. The salary for this position is $65,000 per year, with fully paid health insurance, paid time off, 401k and other benefits.
- J.D. from accredited law school; must be admitted to practice law in at least one U.S. jurisdiction or awaiting bar exam results/admission in at least one U.S. jurisdiction at the start of employment;
- Excellent written and oral communication skills;
- Good judgment and the highest level of professional integrity.
To apply, please submit a cover letter, resume, contact information for three references, a legal writing sample, and a copy of your most recent law school transcript. Applicants interested in multiple fellowships should submit one application and indicate a fellowship preference in their cover letter. Only complete applications will progress forward in the hiring process.
In addition to accepting applications submitted directly to the Reporters Committee through SmartRecruiters, RCFP receives applications submitted through Equal Justice Works. Those who apply for a Reporters Committee legal fellowship through Equal Justice Works are not required to submit a separate application through SmartRecruiters.
Applications are open from July 15 to October 1 for the following year.
The Reporters Committee is committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce, and we strongly encourage women, veterans, people with disabilities, people of color, people of all ages, and gender nonconforming candidates to apply.
RCFP is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Prohibits Discrimination and Harassment of Any Kind: RCFP is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity for all employees and to providing employees with a work environment free of discrimination and harassment. All employment decisions at RCFP are based on business needs, job requirements and individual qualifications, without regard to race, color, age, religion or belief, family or parental status, or any other status protected by the laws or regulations in the locations where we operate. RCFP will not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on any of these characteristics.