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Supreme Court Assistance Project Fellowship

Spend one year working on Supreme Court cases for a public interest firm with a substantial Supreme Court practice. Start date approximately mid-August 2013 – mid- August 2014.

Founded in 1972, Public Citizen Litigation Group is the litigating arm of the non-profit advocacy organization Public Citizen. Litigation Group attorneys specialize in cases involving health and safety regulation, consumer rights, access to the courts, class action standards, open government, and the First Amendment, including issues involving online speech. The Litigation Group litigates cases at all levels of the federal and state judiciaries, and its attorneys have argued 60 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, with two more scheduled for the 2012 Term.

To augment its Supreme Court litigation, the Litigation Group operates the Alan Morrison Supreme Court Assistance Project, named after the Group’s founder. The Project focuses on helping small-firm practitioners, lawyers for non-profit organizations, and other lawyers with little or no experience in Supreme Court litigation. The Project provides direct assistance to lawyers before review is granted, either by helping with a petition for certiorari or a brief in opposition, and assistance in cases in which review is granted, working with the lawyers to prepare briefs and oral argument. In some cases, the principal role is assumed by a Litigation Group attorney.

Job Description:

The Litigation Group is looking for a bright, energetic lawyer to coordinate the Project and work on Supreme Court cases for one year. Most, but not all, of the cases on which we work are civil rather than criminal. Most of the pre-grant cases involve assistance to the party who won below, where we help with the opposition to the petition for certiorari, to keep the case out of the Court and thereby preserve a victory.

The fellow will review all paid cert. petitions. Working under the direct supervision of the Litigation Group director, the fellow makes an initial judgment about whether the case is of interest to the Project and prepares a memo and recommendation as to whether to offer assistance. Considerable research and analysis are often required to determine whether assertions, such as a conflict among the courts of appeals, are supportable. The fellow then makes an initial contact with the attorney to whom help is being offered to explain the Project and the assistance that we can provide. In addition, all cases accepted by the Court for full review are considered for possible assistance by the Project. When an offer of help is accepted, a Litigation Group attorney assumes principal responsibility for the case within the office. For a list of the Project’s current cases, see http://www.citizen.org/ litigation/forms/scap_index.cfm.

The fellow participates fully in all aspects of the Project, including working on draft briefs at the certiorari and merits stages. The fellow is also responsible for organizing and coordinating moot courts for advocates appearing before the Court. (In the 2011 Term, the Project mooted lawyers for 24 cases.) The fellow maintains the Project’s website (http://www.citizen.org/litigation/supremecourt) and prepares an email on pending petitions of public interest to update subscribers before each Supreme Court conference.

In sum, the fellow has the opportunity to be involved with all aspects of Supreme Court litigation—from initial strategizing to brief writing to moot courts. In addition to work on the Project, the fellow may have an opportunity to work on other Litigation Group cases.


Applicants must have a JD, a solid academic background, excellent writing and analytical skills, and basic knowledge of a wide range of subject areas that arise in Supreme Court litigation. Ideal applicants are bright, innovative, socially adept, and self-starters. Some practical litigation experience in school or elsewhere is preferred, but not required. A strong preference will be given to those who have a demonstrated commitment to public interest work. Minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.


The annual salary, set by collective bargaining agreement, is approximately $50,000. Benefits include fully paid comprehensive health insurance (covering employee and dependents, but not the employee’s spouse) and three weeks’ paid vacation.

Application Instructions:

Applicants should send a cover letter, a resume, a list of references, a law school transcript, and a writing sample to the attention of Office Manager, at litapplicant@citizen.org. The writing sample should be legal in nature (brief, memorandum, or research paper) and should be the applicant’s own work, not a collaborative piece or something heavily edited by someone else. It can be of any length. Please send the complete document, not an excerpt.

 Applicants should consult the Project’s website (http://www.citizen.org/litigation/supremecourt), and Litigation Group website (http://www.citizen.org/litigation) for general information on the work of the Litigation Group. The application deadline is December 15, 2012, but an offer may be extended as early as November. Interviews may either be in person or on the telephone, no sooner than mid-October.

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