Sr. Staff Attorney, Civic Space


Sr. Staff Attorney, Civic Space

International Advocacy & Litigation Department

Reporting to: VP of Int’l Advocacy & Litigation

Full-Time, Exempt

Location: Washington, D.C. (Due to current pandemic this role may begin remote)

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights seeks a Senior Staff Attorney in the International Advocacy & Litigation program to coordinate and support the organization’s work partnering with human rights defenders to protect civic space through advocacy, strategic litigation, and technical assistance. The Senior Attorney will work closely with the VP of International Advocacy and Litigation to coordinate the interregional work focused on strategic human rights litigation and civil society engagement for the protection of civic space.


Our team of lawyers and issue experts collaborate with partners around the world to create lasting legal change. Through legal advocacy, we have freed political prisoners, defended the rule of law in autocratic regimes and amplified the voices of human rights defenders in the United States and abroad. We present the annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, which recognizes a courageous individual whose activism reflects Robert Kennedy’s belief that every individual can make a difference. The award’s recipients enter multi-year partnerships with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, anchoring our advocacy work and strengthening the activists’ ability to make gentler the life of the world.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Organize and coordinate interregional civic space litigation and advocacy work, including coalitions, interregional litigation, and amicus efforts, work with local experts and NGOs to assist in implementing these strategies and plan capacity-building and training events to enhance their legal and advocacy capacity;

  • Lead and develop special civic space-related initiatives, including case trackers and mobilization efforts;

  • Develop original analysis, writing and publicizing reports, legal and policy guidance, briefing papers, letters, news releases, op-eds, and submissions to regional and international bodies, as well as presenting human rights concerns and other advocacy before government officials, opinion leaders, inter-governmental agencies, and in the media;

  • Support coordination and management of Staff Attorneys on projects, including organizing and prioritizing workload and workflow and providing general coordination and supervision of assignments, under supervision of VP for International Advocacy and Litigation;

  • Participate in fact-finding trips to document human rights violations and oversee delegation planning and execution;

  • Serve on various committees, ad hoc working groups, and task forces, as required as well as promote the work of RFKHR and represent the organization at meetings, conferences, seminars, etc;

  • Support with the organization’s fundraising efforts alongside our Development team, including proposal writing, donor identification and cultivation, and grant reporting;

  • Travel domestically and internationally up to one or two weeks at a time, several times a year (once travel limits have been lifted);

  • Identify and execute ways to achieve shared impact across other RFKHR programs, to mobilize RFKHR stakeholders in support of the work, and to increase the visibility of RFKHR and our work before the general public;

  • Working flexible hours as needed to accommodate developing and urgent events;

  • Do your part in keeping our operations running smoothly - tracking your hours and submitting timecards in a timely manner; and

  • Carrying out any other duties as required.


  • Completed J.D. or foreign equivalent required;

  • At least 7 years experience working in the human rights space (through advocacy and/or litigation) as well as supervision and project management;

  • Authorization to work in the United States required;

  • Fluency in English and Spanish is required;

  • Demonstrated human rights litigation experience before domestic courts and/or regional or universal human rights bodies;

  • Strong field research and documentation skills;

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills;

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team to develop and implement realistic and effective local & international advocacy strategies;

  • Strong initiative and follow-through, the capacity to think creatively to identify advocacy opportunities for increased impact beyond assigned tasks;

  • Excellent writing and editing skills;

  • Comfort and demonstrated experience with public speaking, speaking with the press, and holding presentations;

  • Strong interpersonal skills in order to work collaboratively across cultural dynamics within Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights as well as with clients, local partners, government officials, and media partners;

  • Attention to detail, you’re able to scope out errors and proactively fix mistakes;

  • Time management, you have the ability to produce high-quality written material under tight deadlines;

  • High level of integrity and discretion in handling confidential information;

  • Innovative thinking, a willingness to voice opinions, and a strong work ethic are essential;

  • Teamwork, you are able to build positive relationships with your colleagues and are willing to help others;

  • Inclusive, you are excited to work with colleagues with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives from your own.

Preferred but not required qualifications:

  • Advocacy experience leveraging (e.g. US foreign policy, intergovernmental bodies, and/or public-facing campaigns);

  • Demonstrated experience strategizing global and local media environments and using standard media and electronic media to further advocacy goals;

Benefits and other Perks:

  • We value your health: RFK Human Rights covers 100% of individual-only costs of our platinum medical, dental, vision benefits and subsidize the cost for dependent coverage;

  • We understand the importance of financial planning and saving we provide:
    • An automatic contribution of 7% of your salary after your first year of employment;

    • A College Saveup/Loan PayDown program with an automatic $100/monthly contribution for any current loans or future loans;

    • An automatic monthly cell phone & internet speed stipend of $125/monthly to offset any phone & internet expenses;

  • We value your growth: RFK Human Rights provides an annual $2,000 professional development stipend to all full-time staff to use towards any courses, conferences, or trainings that would further one's professional learning and development. As well professional development days/hours to complete these courses.

  • Flexibility and independence to help manage your work and home life: Staff have the ability to work from home or telecommute.
    • Employees receive a $1,000 benefits card each calendar year to use towards food and home & life purchases to help support work from home needs.

  • We love to celebrate human rights advocates and our hard work! We do so by hosting award ceremonies, galas, summer outings, holiday parties, potlucks, domestic and international staff retreats, and spur-of-the-moment social outings.

How to Apply:

  • Submit your resume and cover letter to with “Your Name + Civic Space Sr. Staff Attorney” in the subject heading.

  • In your cover letter please include how you heard about this role and why you’re interested in this position.

No phone calls please. RFK Human Rights will contact qualified candidates directly.

You are welcome here...

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer and believes we are stronger and more effective by working internally and externally with people of all abilities, diverse backgrounds, and a range of perspectives, particularly those who have historically been marginalized or underrepresented. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. We do not discriminate in our hiring practices and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seek a diverse applicant pool.