Program Officer, Policy Reform (Attorney)

Philadelphia, PA
Full Time
Policy Reform
Mid Level

This position will be based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and/or Washington, D.C. FIRE operates on a hybrid work schedule that allows for a mix of in-office and work-from-home each week for eligible employees. Fully remote work will not be considered for this position. 

About FIRE

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s mission is to defend and sustain the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought — the most essential qualities of liberty. FIRE educates Americans about the importance of these inalienable rights, promotes a culture of respect for these rights, and provides the means to preserve them.

Position Description 

FIRE is seeking an attorney with 3-5 years experience to support its Policy Reform and Campus Rights Advocacy teams. 

FIRE’s Policy Reform team works to improve the written regulations on student and faculty expression at our nation’s colleges and universities. The Program Officer for Policy Reform will support all aspects of this work, with a focus on case-related inquiries, including those raising issues of policies’ application, actively working with students, faculty, and administrators to secure policy changes. 

While the Program Officer for Policy Reform will report directly to FIRE’s Director of Policy Reform, they will also support the work of FIRE’s Campus Rights Advocacy team by managing and working on policy-related case submissions. 

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

  • Policy Reform Project 
    • Corresponding with students, faculty, and administrators with the objective of revising their college’s speech codes 
    • Writing, reviewing, and editing letters, as well as coordinate mailings, on the basis of recent court rulings relevant to the department, or other developments (such as legislation) that implicate policy reform work 
    • Writing, reviewing, and editing policy review letters as needed to colleges and universities analyzing their speech codes, pertinent case law, and ways to revise the policies
    • Writing, reviewing, and editing speech code memoranda as needed for individual students, faculty, and administrators who wish to pursue policy reform at their college or university
    • Managing the intake and assignment of speech code information requests and policy-related case referrals from other organizations 
  • Campus Rights Advocacy 
    • Writing, reviewing, and editing letters regarding case submissions primarily involving speech codes. 
    • Serving as a liaison between the Director of Policy Reform and the Director of Campus Rights Advocacy, managing referrals and identifying efficient advocacy strategies between the programs.
  • Legal 
    • Assisting the organization’s Litigation Project with analyzing college and university speech codes as needed for potential First Amendment litigation.
    • Assisting with the production of amicus briefs as needed in conjunction with other organization attorneys in cases where the organization’s third-party input and analysis is necessary.
    • Reviewing and editing legal briefs and motions as needed in litigation arising out of the organization’s casework and mission.
  • Other editorial 
    • Contributing to FIRE’s blog, Newsdesk, as needed
    • Spending time one day per week reviewing, editing, and commenting on pre-publication blog posts written by others.
    • Being available to copy edit colleagues’ letters, reports, and other documents on request

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.

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


A successful candidate must demonstrate a knowledge 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 knowledge of case law regarding higher education, First Amendment rights, due process, academic freedom, and various legal doctrines applicable to organization’s work and mission
  • Familiarity with general university conduct codes, principles, and administrative structure;
  • Ability to accurately research and navigate through case law, regulations, legislation, law review articles, and university policies and handbooks
  • Strong legal writing and copy-editing skills and concrete familiarity with legal citation formats
  • Discretion/sensitivity with handling of confidential material
  • Ability to communicate with a variety of audiences such as students, faculty, administrators, and the media in a variety of mediums
  • Attention to detail and accuracy
  • Ability to multitask and work under tight deadlines when urgent matters arise.
  • Ability to communicate legal principles and case law to non-legal audiences 
  • Ability to manage long-term administrative and faculty contacts to effectuate policy reform
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Problem solving to find solutions (and communicate those solutions) in order to address problematic policies
  • Decision making to prioritize policy issues in urgent need of revision, and deciding what elements of the policy should be revised
  • Ability to gauge and evaluate administrative incentives and advocate for policy changes according to those motivating factors. 

Candidates must have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school. Candidates that possess a J.D. and are not already a member of the Pennsylvania or D.C. bars must be willing to obtain licensure in Pennsylvania or D.C.  

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 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, a writing sample, 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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