Director of Strategic Legal Advocacy

$187,832 - $221,010 yearly
  • Earthjustice
  • Washington D.C., DC, USA or San Francisco, CA or Remote
  • Sep 02, 2020
Full time Environment Legal Nonprofit-Social Services

Job Description

Earthjustice is the nation’s premier environmental law nonprofit.  Our 450-person team wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, preserve magnificent places and wildlife, and combat climate change. We represent clients ranging from community groups and Indian tribes to the largest environmental NGOs. We do it for free because the earth needs a good lawyer.

This fall, Earthjustice is looking for a highly experienced attorney who has the perspective, expertise, and people skills to serve as our first Director of Strategic Legal Advocacy.

Our cases typically involve substantive claims arising from environmental, administrative, or civil rights laws. But winning those cases often depends on successful advocacy concerning “non-substantive” doctrines such as standing, finality, deference to agency decisionmaking, and federal remedies. In recent decades, we have seen concerted attempts to influence these doctrines in ways that limit our clients’ ability to vindicate their legal rights to a healthy environment, transparent government, and justice under the law.

Our Director of Strategic Legal Advocacy will help our 150-lawyer team identify and counter these doctrinal trends in the context of our ongoing substantive work. The Director will serve as a resource for monitoring relevant legal developments, as a thought partner for teams confronting relevant doctrinal issues in their matters, and as lead counsel in impact litigation where appropriate. While the Director will focus primarily on Earthjustice’s own advocacy, we anticipate that they will routinely work with Earthjustice’s peers in the broader progressive legal community.

The Director will be the first member of a team that we plan to expand over time. We expect the Director to hire an additional attorney to the team by June 2021, and to hire additional staff by June 2022. These plans are contingent upon Earthjustice’s fundraising efforts.

The Director will report to Earthjustice’s Senior Vice President of Programs, who supervises Earthjustice’s litigation and lobbying teams.

Applicants can choose to work from our San Francisco, CA headquarters or Washington D.C., or to work remotely with access to our offices in twelve other cities.

Responsibilities:

Litigation strategy, support, and leadership – 90%

  • Develop systems and partnerships to track legal trends in administrative, procedural, and access to justice issues that impact Earthjustice’s ability to pursue substantive environmental law claims;
  • Serve as a resource to Earthjustice attorneys to improve our written and oral advocacy on strategically important administrative and procedural issues;
  • Develop systems and partnerships to identify opportunities for impact litigation on administrative and procedural issues, including matters where amicus participation is may be warranted, and
  • Assemble and coordinate teams to litigate such cases, and, where appropriate, supervise or serve as lead counsel in that litigation;
  • Identify opportunities for our Policy and Legislation team to drive valuable statutory and regulatory changes in administrative law, civil procedure, and legal structures related to access to justice;
  • Work with Earthjustice’s VP of Litigation Practice and Litigation Training team to educate litigation staff about cross-cutting and emerging issue areas;
  • Work with peer organizations to improve and coordinate advocacy on issues of common concern, including advocacy before the Supreme Court of the United States;
  • Represent Earthjustice as a thought leader to peer organizations and external audiences at public events;
  • Demonstrate an awareness and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds and orientations, and inculcate similar awareness and sensitivity through our entire organization; and
  • Contribute to recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Management - 10%  

  • Recruit and hire qualified candidates who fit position requirements and the work environment;
  • Set clear team direction that aligns with Earthjustice strategy, mission, and vision;
  • Provide staff with consistent performance feedback and act as a coach and mentor;
  • Develop staff by identifying and encouraging training and professional development opportunities appropriate to role and creating development plans for all staff;
  • Create a learning culture by encouraging debriefing after completion of significant stages of projects;
  • Promote change in terms of the expected benefits, as well as removing or lowering the impact of potential obstacles;
  • Create a respectful and inclusive work environment for the team and model respectful and inclusive behavior;
  • Promptly address micro-aggressions and other concerns;
  • Resolve interpersonal conflict among team members and bring in outside facilitators as needed;
  • Communicate regularly with existing employees and encourage staff to raise concerns and to provide ongoing feedback;
  • Create opportunities for team building and staff engagement to strengthen teamwork, interaction and collaboration;
  • Value and use individual differences and talents to improve employee satisfaction and the quality of collective work; and
  • Celebrate successes and help team members to understand and manage setbacks.

*Supervisory Responsibilities: [1-2 direct reports to be added in the future]

Qualifications

Legal experience and skills

  • J.D. required.
  • 10+ years of legal experience, with particular expertise in federal court practice, federal administrative law, and federal civil procedure.
  • A strong track record as lead counsel in litigation matters, including extensive motions and appellate practice.
  • Top-tier legal writing and oral advocacy skills.
  • Experience in substantive environmental law valuable, but not necessary.
  • Experience litigating in the public interest and/or in a nonprofit organization valuable, but not necessary.
  • Experience with certiorari practice before the Supreme Court of the United States valuable, but not necessary.

Interpersonal and cultural skills

  • A commitment to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work culture.
  • The ability to collaborate and build partnerships within a large legal organization and among clients, external partners, and external co-counsel.
  • An awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of individuals from different races and cultures, with different personal characteristics, backgrounds, and orientations.
  • A positive attitude, strong work ethic, and objectively verifiable sense of humor.
  • Ability and willingness to travel as needed.

Management

  • Ability to effectively manage and lead a diverse team with emotional intelligence (self-awareness and understating of the impact of their behavior) and cultural humility (an understanding of the need for additional learning about different cultures, backgrounds and orientation and implementation of that learning daily management practices).
  • Ability to give and receive regular formal and informal feedback in a timely, constructive, respectful, and consistent manner and to incorporate debriefing into the team’s operations.
  • Strong team mentorship and communication skills
  • Commitment to and experience in developing team skills and talents to meet the evolving needs of an organization.

Salary depends on experience and location. 

Salary range will vary based on location: $187,832 - $221,010

We offer a mission- and employee-focused work environment and a competitive compensation package, including excellent benefits. Earthjustice is an equal opportunity employer and highly values diversity.

To Apply: 

Interested candidates should submit a: 

  • Resume.
  • Substantive cover letter that explains your interest in this role your relevant legal experience, and your approach to working with other lawyers.
  • A list of at least five relevant cases you have handled as lead counsel, noting any specific filings that demonstrate your advocacy skill in areas such as administrative law, federal court jurisdiction and remedies, government transparency law, and civil procedure. Include case names and docket numbers.
  • List of three references.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled. 

Please reach out to jobs@earthjustice.org if you are having technical difficulties submitting your application. No phone calls, drop-ins, or hard copies.

Earthjustice is driven by a passion for justice, partnership and excellence. 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 for employment are provided with equal opportunities without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, religion, physical or mental disability, medical condition, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information or any other factor that is not related to the position.

For positions located within the City and County of San Francisco:  Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment-qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

For positions located within the City of Los Angeles:  We will consider qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring.