Program Officer for Public Advocacy

Full Time
Public Advocacy

This position will be based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. FIRE operates on a hybrid work schedule that allows for a mix of in-the-office and remote work for eligible employees. Fully remote work will not be considered for this position.

About FIRE 
Founded in 1999, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought — the most essential qualities of liberty. Please visit to gain a sense of our work and mission.

Job Responsibilities
FIRE seeks a full-time Program Officer to join our expanding Public Advocacy team, which engages in non-litigation advocacy on off-campus free speech issues. 

At FIRE, we believe that free speech makes free people. The right of the individual to speak their mind is fundamental for a free society. So we're on a mission to promote and defend free speech — and we need a talented attorney who will be a zealous and persuasive advocate for First Amendment rights and free speech as a cultural value. 

The Program Officer for Public Advocacy will assist with all aspects of the department’s work and will report directly to FIRE’s Director of Public Advocacy. The Program Officer will also work closely with FIRE’s Communications team, Strategic Partnerships team, and Engagement and Mobilization team.

The duties for this position include, but are not limited to: 

  • Investigatory work
    • Assisting with investigating off-campus free expression matters or issues of interest to the organization not subject to (or ripe for) litigation, including collection of documentation and review of relevant materials.
    • Reviewing and managing individual case submissions and providing input on potential future action at standing Public Advocacy meetings and over email.
    • Attending Rapid Response meetings to discuss breaking free expression news and respond to the news, as necessary.
  • Editorial work
    • Authoring and reviewing letters to advocate for expressive rights and/or to support free speech culture.
    • Authoring and reviewing internal position papers and talking points on issues concerning expressive rights as part of FIRE’s mission to advance those rights and to support a culture of free speech.
    • Contributing to FIRE’s public awareness efforts, including writing and reviewing content for FIRE’s website and other publications, participating in creating social media content, appearing in and drafting scripts for FIRE videos, writing and reviewing articles and columns for outside publications, and related tasks.
    • Serving as a primary press contact on non-litigation off-campus free expression matters and conducting interviews for television, radio, and print media as needed.
    • Coordinating with the Communications team to provide timely coverage of developing and ongoing issues.
    • Helping to coordinate strategy among Public Advocacy, Communications, and Research staff to generate research results and editorial work-product on non-litigation free expression matters.
  • Other program duties
    • Assisting in outreach efforts to individuals and organizations to help build free speech-based coalitions and draw more individual supporters to FIRE’s work.
    • Attending conferences on behalf of FIRE.
    • Staying current on national and local news regarding issues relevant to FIRE and Public Advocacy’s mission.
    • Reading court decisions, reports, scholarly publications, books, and other relevant materials to stay current on free expression issues and trends.

This position will also perform other support functions for the day-to-day operation of FIRE and will frequently collaborate with other staff members and departments on general duties and specialized projects, including but not limited to contributing to FIRE’s blog, Newsdesk.

This position involves a limited amount of travel. Occasional work on weekends and evenings should be expected.

The expected start date for this position is as soon as possible.

A successful candidate will be outgoing, resourceful, and organized. Most importantly, the candidate must exercise superb judgment and demonstrate a knowledge of and passion for FIRE’s mission and an ability to articulate that passion in a way that will make others enthusiastic about our cause. 

A candidate must also be able to demonstrate:

  • A deep understanding of First Amendment law and free speech principles.
  • Exceptional writing and copy editing skills.
  • Strong legal research skills.
  • Strong factual investigation skills.
  • Interpersonal communication skills (phone and email courtesy, ability to properly manage sensitive information/maintain confidence of case submitters).
  • Keen attention to detail.
  • Excellent planning and organizational skills, including the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Strong work ethic and an ability to work productively with people of differing views.
  • Ability to work quickly and accurately under pressure.  
  • Strong public speaking skills.

Candidates must have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school and be a member of the bar of the jurisdiction in which they are based.

Salary and Compensation
Starting salary is negotiable and depends upon experience and education level. FIRE conducts periodic evaluations where employees may receive raises or bonuses for outstanding and excellent work. FIRE also offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes employer-paid comprehensive health, dental, and life insurance; a Section 125 Flexible Spending Account option; matching retirement contributions; and a generous paid time-off plan.

Applicants should provide a resume, cover letter, and a writing sample or other demonstration of work. They should also provide salary requirements and contact information for at least two professional references. All applications are confidential. Please address applications to Cait Scanlan, Director of People Operations.

FIRE is an equal opportunity employer.



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