Staff Attorney

$75,000 - $90,000 yearly
  • Friends of the San Juans
  • San Juan County, Washington, USA
  • Oct 04, 2021
Full time Legal

Job Description

Job Posting: Staff Attorney

Friends of the San Juans’ Staff Attorney and Legal Director (“Legal Director”) leads our legal advocacy and litigation practice and participates in many other organizational activities, including policy analysis and advocacy, public outreach and education, fundraising, and coalition building. The Legal Director has a key role in implementing our mission to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea for people and nature. 

Job Responsibilities

  • Identify, analyze, and comment on mission-relevant land-use and ordinance proposals in San Juan County to ensure compliance with environmental protections.
  • Review and comment on private and public local, state, provincial, and federal actions likely to cause environmental impacts or diminish the availability of natural resources in and around San Juan County. This includes engagement in public processes for on-the-ground projects as well as policy development and creation, rulemaking, and long-range planning.
  • When necessary, conduct litigation as sole attorney, including drafting the complaint and subsequent briefs, engaging in motion practice, identifying and preparing witnesses, taking depositions, and conducting direct and cross-examination.
  • Conduct closed and open-record legal appeals before the San Juan County Hearing Examiner, Growth Management Hearings Board, Shorelines Hearings Board, Pollution Control Hearings Board, and state courts.
  • Pursue strategic, impact-litigation opportunities in the Salish Sea region that advance organizational priorities, such as climate action and Southern Resident killer whale protection and recovery.
  • Cultivate new allies and collaborate effectively with partners.
  • Assist with communications, fundraising, and outreach activities, including campaigns and events.
  • Review Friends’ contracts and internal policies.
  • Draft articles for Friends’ outreach and education efforts, such as website and social media posts, the Annual Report, and e-newsletters.
  • Draft press releases for advocacy programs and serve as spokesperson as needed.
  • Communicate with Board and sub-committees as needed to ensure proper oversight of Friends’ advocacy efforts.
  • Recruit, hire, and supervise one to two legal interns each summer.


  • Law school graduate with membership in the Washington State Bar Association or the ability to acquire membership through reciprocity.
  • At least two years of post-law-school, professional experience.
  • Litigation experience, including participation in administrative hearings.
  • Preference for knowledge base in land-use law concepts and state and federal environmental laws, including Washington’s Growth Management Act, Shoreline Management Act, Hydraulic Code, Land Use Petition Act, State and National Environmental Policy Acts, and Public Records laws, Treaty Rights of the Coast Salish Nations, and the federal Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act.
  • Preference for knowledge base in maritime law and other areas of the law related to marine vessel shipping.
  • Outstanding research, analysis, writing, and oral advocacy skills.
  • Commitment to fostering a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just work environment — see below.
  • Strong initiative, thoughtful judgment, diligent work ethic, and skilled ability to communicate complex legal arguments and scientific concepts to members of all communities.
  • Ability to conduct a solo practice, including developing a litigation strategy, drafting written work product, preparing witnesses, and prosecuting litigation as sole chair.
  • Willingness to pitch in as needed within the organization, and to work occasional evenings and weekends (subject to the organization’s Flex Time policy).
  • Commitment to the public interest and a passion for Friends’ mission, and the ability to conduct themselves diplomatically in a variety of community settings.

Salary: $75,000 to $90,000 plus benefits for full-time employment, depending on experience

Friends’ benefits package for all salaried staff includes a modest health-care plan, paid contributions to a retirement plan, generous leave time, and flexibility in employee work schedules.


The office of Friends of the San Juans is in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island, Washington. Our expectation is that our Legal Director will live in the San Juan Islands, in order to be an active and visible participant in our local community.

To Apply

Applicants should submit the following in one PDF to Shannon Davis, at :

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Professional writing sample

Three professional references will be requested of final applicants.

Application Timeline

Position is open until filled, and we will review applications on an ongoing basis. We will respond to all initial applicants no later than November 1st, 2021. The first round of interviews will likely take place via videoconference, and subsequent rounds will likely take place in person, with travel arrangements provided by Friends of the San Juans.

Please direct your questions about the position or the application process to Send your application materials as a single PDF to Shannon Davis, at

About Friends of the San Juans

A citizen group formed Friends of the San Juans in 1979 to help preserve the beauty, character, and wildness of the San Juan Islands in the face of increasing development. The organization’s first major effort was helping San Juan County adopt its first Comprehensive Land-Use Plan; today, thoughtful, science-based decision-making about land use, habitat protections, and strengthening local ecosystems remains a high priority.

Friends’ primary goals are to foster wild and healthy shorelines, promote thriving and sustainable communities, conserve forests, farmlands, freshwater, and prairie habitats, and ensure the health of marine ecosystems in the Salish Sea. Friends uses science to inform decisions that conserve the county’s environment and economy.

Friends works locally and throughout the region using innovative public-private partnerships, applied science, legal advocacy, and community-based initiatives to protect and steward the land, water, and sea for those of us here today and for future generations. More information about the organization’s programs is available at

Friends is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization with a staff of 9 people, including the Legal Director. Beginning in the spring of 2021, Friends began a comprehensive Strategic Planning effort, through which the organization redoubled its commitment to having the legal expertise on staff to protect and ensure the environmental health and integrity of the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea.

Friends also took steps at both the Staff and Board levels to begin centering the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) in our work and in our organization’s culture. Preferred candidates for this position will: demonstrate a commitment that equity is a necessary prerequisite to building a more just and sustainable world; contribute to equity and inclusion work within the organization, including participation in relevant committees and trainings; demonstrate a deep understanding of their own race, culture, and identity, and how it relates to the staff and community landscape, as well as the world at large; model vulnerability and accountability; be comfortable giving and receiving feedback; model sensitivity toward the needs and priorities of diverse communities and individuals with a variety of backgrounds and identities; demonstrate the ability to communicate across power dynamics in a way that fosters learning, understanding, and mutual respect.

Our core values lead us to seek a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds to achieve our mission and to maintain an inclusive environment where all staff are valued and respected. As an equal opportunity employer, we are committed to employment practices that ensure that employees and applicants are provided with equal opportunities without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, age, religion, physical or mental disability, medical condition, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity or expression, genetic information, or any other factor that is not related to the position. Note that our current office is on the second floor, without elevator access, and therefore it is not ADA accessible; accordingly, we have flexibility about where employees perform their work.