Legal Fellowships

  • 1156 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA
  • Full-time

Company Description

Established in 1970, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) provides pro bono legal representation, amicus curiae support, and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and the newsgathering rights of journalists. RCFP serves news organizations, reporters, editors, documentary filmmakers, media lawyers, and many more who use its online resources.

Job Description

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:

E.W Scripps Legal Fellowship

The E.W. Scripps Legal Fellowship is a two-year fellowship that focuses on supporting local enterprise and investigative journalism, bolstering access to public records and encouraging greater government transparency.

The E.W. Scripps Legal 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 litigation matters handled by Reporters Committee attorneys. The E.W. Scripps Legal Fellow will report directly to our Legal Director and work on small litigation teams with other legal fellows and Reporters Committee staff attorneys on a variety of First Amendment and media law cases, with a focus on assisting  with access to courts and freedom of information litigation brought on behalf of journalists and news organizations.

The E.W. Scripps Legal Fellow will participate in all aspects of litigation at both the trial and appellate level, including motion practice, discovery, brief writing, and hearing/oral argument preparation.

Candidates for this challenging and rewarding two-year fellowship should have a demonstrated interest in the First Amendment and media law. Post-law school judicial clerkship, fellowship, and/or litigation experience with a law firm or public interest organization is strongly preferred. However, recent law school graduates with strong credentials will be considered. 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 salary for this position is $80,000 per year, with fully paid health insurance, paid time off, 401k and other benefits.

Media Litigation Fellowship

The Media Litigation 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 litigation matters handled by Reporters Committee staff attorneys. The Media Litigation Fellow will report directly to our Legal Director and work on small litigation teams with other legal fellows and Reporters Committee staff attorneys on a variety of First Amendment and media law cases, with a focus on assisting with access to courts and freedom of information litigation brought on behalf of the Reporters Committee, journalists, and news organizations.

The Media Litigation 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.

Candidates for this challenging and rewarding two-year fellowship should have a demonstrated interest in the First Amendment and media law. Post-law school judicial clerkship, fellowship, and/or litigation experience with a law firm or public interest organization is strongly preferred. However, recent law school graduates with strong credentials will be considered. 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 salary for this position is $80,000 per year, with fully paid health insurance, paid time off, 401k and other benefits.

Legal Fellowship

This 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.

The salary for this position is $65,000 per year, with fully paid health insurance, paid time off, 401k and other benefits.

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 salary for this position is $65,000 per year, with fully paid health insurance, paid time off, 401k and other benefits.

Race Equity in Journalism Legal Fellowship

This one-year legal fellowship expands the Reporters Committee's 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 Race 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.

Qualifications

  • 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.

Additional Information

Physical Demands

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to sit and operate computer equipment. The employee is occasionally required to stand and walk. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds.

Covid Vaccination

All RCFP employees must be fully vaccinated/boosted against COVID or present us with a medical or religious/ethical/moral accommodation that meets our satisfaction.

To apply

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. 

At the Reporters Committee, we celebrate the diversity of our employees and our leadership. RCFP is an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law. We have an energetic, employee-led race-equity working group exploring the fields of law and journalism and strategies for making our professions, as well as our workplace, more inclusive, welcoming, and proactive on matters relating to race, gender, and other group identities.