The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU-WA) invites applications for the position of Legal Director. The Legal Director provides vision, direction and support for the ACLU-WA’s legal program, which resides in our newly-created Integrated Advocacy Department (IAD) along with the Policy Advocacy Group, the Political Strategies Department, and the Information and Referral Program. The new IAD was created following strategic planning and a staffing restructure process in which race equity and integrated advocacy were identified as high priorities for our advocacy. The Legal Director is responsible for overall coordination and management of the legal department and its docket, staff, and network of cooperating attorneys. The ideal candidate will be a skilled constitutional rights litigator, an experienced and visionary manager, and an inspiring leader. Strong candidates will have demonstrated ability to develop and pursue litigation as part of an integrated advocacy strategy and a demonstrated ability to work with, support and inspire others in innovative advocacy.
The ACLU of Washington is a leader among state affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union, the country's premier guardian of liberty. We work in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect and extend American rights to freedom, fairness, and equality. The ACLU is both nonprofit and nonpartisan. We have a staff of 40+ and are supported by more than 135,000 members, activists, and donors.
The ACLU-WA has an active annual docket of direct representation and numerous amicus cases addressing free speech, racial justice, religious freedom, due process, privacy, reproductive rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, rights of people who are incarcerated, voting rights and drug law reform. Our legal strategies are part of a multi-disciplinary approach to advocacy that integrates legal, policy, political, and communications strategies and is built on the belief that fighting for civil liberties and civil rights means not just persuading judges but also gaining support of policy makers, government officials, and everyday Americans.
The Legal Director will work with other departments and administrators to implement the strategic direction of the organization. As part of the strategic plan and in all its work, ACLU-WA centers race equity as an overarching value, both with regard to its internal and external operations. The Legal Director, along with all other ACLU-WA staff, will be responsible for working in light of these principles and values.
The new Legal Director will supervise staff and delegate supervision to others in a team that includes senior staff attorneys, staff attorneys, a paralegal and an associate, as well as interns and occasional fellows. The Legal Director will be responsible for recruiting, cultivating, and overseeing ACLU-WA’s cooperating attorney program, through which attorneys provide ACLU- WA with extensive pro bono work. The Legal Director reports to the Integrated Advocacy Director and works cooperatively with other department and project directors as an integrated team.
The ACLU of Washington is committed to ending racism in Washington State and throughout the country. This includes how we work with each other, and with our partners and allies in the communities we serve. We are committed to bringing anti-racism to all aspects of ACLU-WA's internal and external functions, including but not limited to recruitment; hiring and human resources; strategic planning; ally, donor, and volunteer relations; Board and committee processes; and deciding what cases to litigate and what legislation to support and oppose. We are looking for candidates who share this commitment to advancing racial justice, both internally in our organization and externally in the communities that we serve.
*Please note: the ACLU-WA is closely following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and continues to carefully monitor public health pronouncements and recommendations.
Currently, our office is closed and staff is working remotely until further notice.
As an organization, we value working together and look forward to when we can return to our office. Candidates outside of Seattle and/or Washington State will be considered for this position with the understanding that relocation to the Puget Sound region will be ultimately required.
To aid remote work, we provide laptops, home office supplies, certain equipment, and technology support. You will need an effective WiFi connection and a way to reach you by phone. This position is eligible for either a work phone or phone stipend, as well as an additional
$100 stipend each month to help cover any additional costs while working from home.
The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, socio-economic circumstance, or record of arrest or conviction. We do not conduct criminal background checks on our candidates.
Race Equity. Participation in ACLU-WA’s race equity work. This may include utilizing ACLU-WA race equity tools, adopting ACLU-WA race equity practices, serving on the Race Equity Team or subcommittees, etc.
Legal program leadership. In collaboration with members of the department, oversee the development and pursuit of a strategic vision for the legal program that advances the ACLU- WA’s overall civil liberties and civil rights agenda, as well as oversee and support the development of potential cases and legal theories. Manage the docket of active cases: support case assignment and litigation and related legal strategies, where the day-to-day case management is handled by volunteer cooperating attorneys and staff attorneys; work with attorneys to develop strategies that use the state constitution and laws to expand rights beyond federal law. Assure that the litigation is consistent with ACLU-WA policy. Advise the Executive Director, who ultimately approves case selection, on the strategy, direction, and status of cases.
Relationship Development. Develop relationships with attorneys, law firms, legal organizations, and other coalition partners to advance issues of mutual concern.
- Cooperating attorney program. Maintain and enhance the cooperating attorney program, in which attorneys work with staff on ACLU-WA cases on a volunteer basis. Pursue strategies to increase pro bono participation in ACLU-WA’s work. Represent the ACLU-WA in various law-related events and develop strong working relationships with area law firms.
- Legal Committee. Support, strengthen, diversify, and effectively utilize the expertise of the ACLU-WA Legal Committee, which meets monthly to advise the staff on potential litigation. Oversee its monthly meetings, agendas, and memos.
Personnel management. Hire, train, supervise, and support the professional development of legal department staff, holding them accountable to ACLU-WA’s values and standards of performance. Oversee recruitment and mentoring of law student interns.
Legal resource and advocacy. Provide analysis of court rulings and occasional legislative bills for senior staff. Along with other legal staff members, articulate ACLU-WA views to the public and the media as requested by the Communications Director. Coordinate and collaborate with the national ACLU-WA legal department, using it as a resource as appropriate. Engage actively with the local bar to advance the ACLU-WA’s issues, mission, and organization.
Reporting, records management, and general duties. Prepare reports of litigation activities for the Executive Director, Legal Committee, and Board. Ensure the maintenance of accurate and easily retrievable case files, legal research, and administrative files. Attend certain ACLU events, including occasional meetings with donors. Help facilitate smooth functioning of the office and
develop a solid understanding of office protocols and culture. Accept other assignments from the Integrated Advocacy Director.
Developing others. Work to build the potential and development of Legal Department staff in developing new skills, taking leadership roles, and increasing responsibility. Work with the Department to create sound and equitable decision-making processes for case selection and assignment.
Ten years of increasingly responsible legal experience, which should include substantial state and federal constitutional law experience and an understanding of modern applications of civil liberties principles.
Proven management ability, including experience in department budgets, supervising attorneys and support staff, and in managing and encouraging volunteers, both students and professionals. Ability to plan effective strategies, establish realistic objectives, and evaluate progress. Excellent organizational and time management skills to manage one’s own work as well as others, and to assure completion of assignments and projects.
A track record of leadership through strong communication, collaboration, and relationship- building. Commitment to working with and centering community groups and marginalized communities. Ability and flexibility to work in both service and leadership roles with many diverse players and constituencies. Excellent problem-solving skills and demonstrated skills in participatory and equitable decision-making. Non-profit experience is a plus.
Exceptional analytical, writing, and speaking skills. A demonstrated ability to write clearly and precisely. The ability to communicate effectively with plaintiffs, opposing counsel, staff, volunteers, and the general public. A demonstrated ability to convey difficult civil liberties issues to the general public and media.
A commitment to the goals and mission of the ACLU-WA.
Ideal candidates will have an awareness of, and willingness to engage in, the difficult and transformative work of challenging systems of oppression, institutional and structural racism, and implicit bias.
Competence in the use of office computer applications, electronic databases, and electronic legal research. Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite or related software.
This position is exempt and requires a willingness to work beyond a standard 7-hour workday, including evening and weekend meetings and events.
Licensed to practice law in Washington or the ability to pass the Washington state bar exam within one year.
This position will supervise up to 8 staff. The number of direct reports is subject to change as the team expands/contracts.
The ACLU-WA office is generally open between the hours of 9a.m. and 5p.m. and is located in downtown Seattle. The physical demands and work environment described below represent those required and encountered by an employee to perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
- Able to input information into a computer for long periods of time.
- Able to remain stationary for extended periods.
- Able to assess information communicated through a computer.
- Able to work some evenings, weekends, and holidays.
- Able to periodically work long and extended hours.
- Able to travel locally/regionally/across the state as needed.
This job description provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications required. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU reserves the right to change the description and/or posting at any time without advance notice. This position is “exempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS
The ACLU of WA is dedicated to centering equity in all aspects of the organization and, as such, has adopted a salary scale for measuring how to best compensate its employees. The salary for this position will be between $145,000 and $160,000. A range indicates the intention to accommodate those with varying years of relevant experience, as determined by the salary scale.
Benefits include three weeks of vacation, thirteen sick days, fifteen holidays, fully paid employee medical, dental, vision, and disability insurance, a generous retirement plan, and an ORCA card, the regional transportation pass.
To apply, email a cover letter and resume to Jobs@aclu-wa.org and include in the subject line of the email: your name and Legal Director. In your cover letter, please indicate where you learned of the posting. Applications will be accepted until January 15, 2022, at which time the job announcement will be removed from our website at www.aclu-wa.org/careers.
The ACLU of Washington comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation.
The two corporations share the same overall mission, office space, and employees. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU of Washington”.