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Thank you for your interest in the American Bar Foundation. Located in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood in Northwestern University’s Chicago campus, the American Bar Foundation is a nonprofit, independent international research institute committed to empirical, interdisciplinary research on law, legal institutions, and legal processes.  The ABF offers a rich intellectual community of scholars with expertise in a wide range of disciplines, and staff have ample opportunities to interact with scholars and attend research presentations, such as a weekly Wednesday seminar series.  We offer a comprehensive benefits package to eligible employees that includes generous paid time off, flexible work schedules, health insurance, and retirement.

Please see below for our latest position openings:

Executive Director

Communications Manager 

Communications Manager

The American Bar Foundation (ABF), the nation’s leading research institute for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law seeks a creative, enthusiastic, and driven communications professional to add to its communications staff.

This position is responsible for managing the creation and dissemination of content to news media, funders, the academy, and other stakeholders. This position will have a direct impact on the elevation of the American Bar Foundation’s brand visibility to its stakeholders and to the general public. This position reports to the Director of Operations and can expect to take direction from the Executive Director of the Foundation. This position also works cooperatively with members of the communications, development, information technology (IT) and academic affairs staff. Chiefly, this position will supervise the current communications associate and manage all communications workflow.

This position is highly responsible and depends on maintaining confidentiality and discretion in all areas of foundation business.

Major Responsibilities:

Strategy and Planning: 5%

  • Oversee creation and implementation of comprehensive communications strategy, including content strategy, brand guidelines, and communications calendar.
  • Track analytics on the impact of ABF media penetration and website traffic.
  • Oversee the establishment and adherence to organization-wide style guidelines.
  • Ensure brand reputation, credibility, and quality of all ABF communications and outreach.

Department Management: 15%

  • Allocate and manage communications department budget.
  • Supervise communications team and manage ongoing workflow.
  • Consult/approve at key stages all products created by communications staff.
  • Oversee hiring and management of specialty contracts with vendors (media tracking, design, web, video, etc.).

Content Creation: 40%

  • Create and edit ABF Annual Report, working with ABF staff and faculty to create and share broadly with ABF donors and community.
  • Co-write and co-edit Researching Law, the ABF’s biannual newsletter.
  • Create and produce ABF podcast by working closely with ABF podcast team.
  • Create one-pagers of ABF signature research projects and programs to assist ABF development and leadership in communicating the institution’s value to stakeholders and potential stakeholders.
  • Write/develop progress reports for funders.
  • Engage with designers and creative consultants to ensure finished products are designed with a consistent brand identity.
  • Assist faculty with preparation and submission of op-eds as requested.
  • Create graphics and video content as needed.

Digital Communications and Outreach: 15%

  • Serve as co-content manager of the ABF website:
  • Create and co-manage main ABF social media strategy, overseeing Associate and interns to maintain ABF social media presence.
  • Create monthly e-newsletter and publish to the ABF community.
  • Collaborate with Communications and Development team members to provide input on all written institutional materials in both print and digital formats.

Public Relations: 10%

  •  Create and/or edit press releases about ABF research, program, or event.
  •  Oversee distribution of press releases to media.
  •  Interface with media personnel and respond to any inquiries and requests.

Event Support: 10%

  • Create and distribute invitations to special events highlighting ABF research, book launches, conferences, etc.
  • Manage special events to highlight ABF research, book launches, conferences, etc.
  • Support webinar functionality and digital show flow during virtual Fellows events and special events.
  • Create and distribute recorded webinars to ABF audiences.

Other: 5%

  • Write/develop mission-critical or executive-level drafts and materials.
  • Draft talking points for ABF leadership.
  • Draft and manage organization responses to questions and concerns.
  • Other Communications-related duties as assigned.

 Knowledge and Skills:

  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to master and translate the institution’s complex research projects and programs to enlightened lay audiences
  • Ability to quickly comprehend a wide range of issues at the intersection of law and society
  • Demonstrated ability to craft cogent and effective press releases
  • Strong editing and proofreading skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to manage competing priorities and to meet deadlines
  • Knowledge of communications information sources
  • Strong contributor in team environments
  • Entrepreneurial nature and a creative thinker
  • Proficiency with mass marketing/communications utilities: Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, etc.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite: Word, PowerPoint, Excel
  • Some basic graphic design experience helpful
  • Must be reliable and punctual and understand standard operating office procedures


  • Bachelor’s degree or higher required, preferably in Journalism or Communications
  • Proficiency in AP-style writing
  • Experience working in deadline-driven environments
  • Ability to work well in a team environment, handle multiple assignments and meet deadlines
  • Ability to communicate clearly and effectively with elite scholars from a wide range of law and social science disciplines.
  • Demonstrated self-starter
  • Preference for candidates with 3-5 years of work experience, including managing other communications associates, and supporting an institutional communications strategy in print and digital media
  • Must be able to work out of the Chicago, IL office

The Organization:

Located in Chicago, IL, the American Bar Foundation is a non-profit, independent national research institute committed to empirical research on law, legal institutions and legal processes. The American Bar Foundation seeks to expand knowledge and advance justice through innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions.  To further this mission the ABF will produce timely, cutting-edge research of the highest quality to inform and guide the legal profession, the academy, and society in the United States and internationally.

Salary range:

Commensurate with experience

Work Environment

This job operates in a professional office environment.  This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, filing cabinets, and fax machines.

Physical Demands

This is largely a sedentary role; however, some filing is required.  This would require the ability to lift files, open cabinets, and bend or stand as necessary.  This position requires the ability to move/lift up to 10 pounds.

Position Type and Expected Hours of Work

This is a full-time exempt position. Generally, for fulltime ABF staff employees, days and hours of work are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with a 1-hour lunch period.  Occasional work outside of these hours is expected in connection with ABF events.

Other Duties

Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. 

EEO Statement

The ABF is firmly committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all qualified persons. All decisions regarding the terms, privileges, and/or conditions of employment, including but not limited to hiring, classification, grading, recruitment, discharge, discipline, compensation, selection for training or apprenticeship, placement, promotion, transfer, renewal of employment, tenure or terms, and benefits, will be made without unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, age, order of protection status, marital status, disability, military status, unfavorable discharge from the military, sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender, gender identity, housing status, parental status, source of income, certain arrest or criminal history records, genetic information, protected activity (such as opposition to or reporting of prohibited discrimination or harassment), or any other status or classification protected by applicable federal, state, and/or local laws. The ABF prohibits discrimination, retaliation, and harassment of individuals on any of the bases listed above and any other basis protected by applicable federal, state and/or local law.


The ABF will reasonably accommodate qualified employees with disabilities to allow them to perform the essential functions of their jobs unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship. The ABF also will reasonably accommodate employees' sincere religious beliefs and practices unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship. All requests for reasonable accommodation should be made to Patricia McCarty, Manager of HR Operations.

Any violation of the equal employment opportunity policy must be reported immediately. If you have any questions regarding discrimination or this policy, please contact Patricia McCarty, Manager of HR Operations.

To receive consideration, please send a cover letter and résumé to as follows:

American Bar Foundation

750 North Lake Shore Drive 4th floor

Chicago, IL 60611

No phone calls, please

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750 North Lake Shore Drive
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