Legal Director, Housing and Consumer Justice Program

Charlottesville, Falls Church, Richmond, Petersburg, VA.

About the Legal Aid Justice Center:

The Legal Aid Justice Center is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that partners with communities and clients to achieve justice by dismantling the systems that create and perpetuate poverty. Justice means racial justice, economic justice, and social justice.

Founded in 1967, LAJC provides services under four key program areas: Civil Rights & Racial Justice (CRRJ focuses on the criminal legal system), Economic Justice, Youth Justice, and Immigrant Advocacy. Working closely with communities, LAJC boldly tackles issues of systemic injustice and aims to raise public and policymaker awareness of some of the most pressing challenges facing low-income Virginia residents. For more information, visit www.justice4all.org.

From offices in Charlottesville, Richmond, Petersburg, and Falls Church, LAJC fiercely advocates for low-income clients and communities of color in Central and Northern Virginia, and its work broadly impacts the entire state. Recent wins include a class-wide settlement requiring the Virginia Employment Commission to provide faster relief to thousands of applicants, obtaining an injunction against an immigrant detention center for unsafe conditions, establishing a system of automatic criminal record sealing, a class-wide, and secured historic levels funding in the state for equitable public education.

With a staff of over 80 and growing, LAJC is committed to tackling some of the most entrenched obstacles to eradicating poverty and discrimination in the state. Building on its roots as a traditional, direct-service, legal aid organization, LAJC has been expanding its focus to work toward broad systemic change while maintaining its deep connections to Virginia’s low-income communities and communities of color. We design strategic advocacy campaigns pursuing change through the courts, state legislature, and local bodies, and we prioritize listening to and organizing in communities seeking support dismantling barriers to racial, economic, and social justice.

About the Housing and Consumer Justice Program (name TBA):

Formerly a part of LAJC’s Economic Justice Program (EJP), the new Housing and Consumer Justice Program (name TBA) will continue its long tradition of deep tenant organizing, systemic litigation and policy advocacy in consumer and housing cases, and eviction defense through individual representation. We partner with directly-impacted communities to achieve racial justice, social justice, and economic justice for all by dismantling systems that create and perpetuate poverty, homelessness, and vicious cycles of debt.

Our housing and consumer organizers and attorneys collaborate closely to design and implement campaigns that keep people and families safely housed without the constant fear of eviction to thrive in their communities. Recent wins include supporting the establishment of a tenants’ council which won fair billing for electrical services, the passage of an ambitious affordable housing policy in the City of Charlottesville that included the abolition of single-family zoning, and obtaining almost $4 million in rent relief for tenants during the pandemic. We actively advocate for tenants in public housing redevelopment campaigns in Richmond and Charlottesville. Finally, we represent a plaintiff in a class action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act against one of the biggest eviction mill law firms in the Commonwealth.

About the position:

Legal Aid Justice Center seeks a strategic, collaborative legal advocate to lead a creative and passionate team of attorneys and organizers as Legal Director. Reporting to the Deputy Director for Advocacy, the Legal Director provides strategic vision for and guidance over the program’s direct services and advocacy campaigns.

Job Duties:

  • Devise strategic advocacy campaigns using the variety of tools employed by LAJC’s programs, including impact litigation and individual representation, organizing, policy advocacy, and community education and technical assistance.
  • Create and set the agenda for the program, including annual planning and identifying priorities for both individual representation and campaign work.
  • Mentor and directly supervise staff, including attorneys, organizers, interns/fellows and volunteers.
  • Build relationships with directly impacted community members, members of the bench and bar, agency heads and elected officials.
  • Assist with development and fundraising efforts as needed.
  • Work in coalition with other legal, non-profit and community-based advocacy organizations.
  • Serve as a member of LAJC’s management team, which advises senior leadership in setting organizational priorities for all programmatic work and providing stewardship of organizational resources.

Required Qualifications:

While no one candidate will possess all of the requirements listed below, the ideal candidate will have many of the following qualifications: 

  • Minimum 5 years’ membership in any state bar; if not admitted in Virginia, must be eligible to waive in or to sit for the Virginia Bar. (Note, the Virginia Supreme Court will be considering a rule change that would make it easier for legal aid employees licensed in other states to waive into the Virginia Bar.)
  • Mission-aligned experience (work or lived) partnering with and advocating in low-wealth communities and communities of color
  • Sincere and demonstrated commitment to racial equity, inclusion, and justice
  • Familiarity with housing and consumer issues (from work or lived experience)
  • Ability to work and communicate effectively across lines of identity and difference.
  • Ability to work effectively both independently and collaboratively
  • Strong oral advocacy, research and writing skills
  • Willingness to work a flexible schedule that may include evening and weekend events, as well as occasional travel

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Systemic litigation experience
  • Experience with policy advocacy, particularly at the local level
  • Experience supporting the development and execution of campaigns and/or community or movement lawyering, grassroots organizing, and coalition building
  • Familiarity with tenant organizing
  • Experience or familiarity with working with community organizers
  • Prior advocacy experience (work or lived) using an explicit race equity lens
  • Prior supervisory experience (in official capacity as supervisor or substantially similar work without official title)
  • Flexibility and adaptive approach

Location:

This role will be based in our Richmond, Charlottesville, or Falls Church offices. Occasional travel between offices will be required. Although a regular presence in the office is required, LAJC offers a remote work policy to support employees in co-creating schedules and arrangements that allow us all to do our best work.

Deadline:

Applications will start being reviewed immediately and on a rolling basis.

Salary:

Salary range is $90,000 to $115,000 based on years of relevant experience and LAJC’s formal salary scale, upward 12% cost-of-living adjustment is available for positions based in Falls Church.

Benefits:

Our mission is compelling, and our team members are passionate about their work. We recognize the need to provide generous benefits and encourage rest and a healthy work environment. For example, we provide:

  • Generous paid time off every year, including 3 to 6 weeks of vacation, 12 days of health leave, 6 weeks parental leave, and 14 holidays (not including bonus holidays/rest days allocated as needed)
  • 100% employer-paid health, dental, vision insurance, plus excellent family insurance with annual max of $2,400 premium contribution to LAJC sponsored-health plan
  • 403(b) retirement plan with 4% employer contribution (no required match)
  • Strong commitment to professional development
  • Law school loan repayment assistance and full reimbursement for VA bar and CLE expenses
  • Relocation package

Application Instructions:

Email a cover letter, resume, a relevant writing sample, and three references to Elaine Poon at hiring@justice4all.org. If you’re able, please submit your application as a single PDF titled “[date submitted in yyyy.mm.dd format][last name][first name][position sought].” Please include ” Housing/Consumer Director r” in the email subject.

The Legal Aid Justice Center is an equal opportunity employer, committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity in our work and staff. We strongly encourage candidates of all identities, experiences, and communities to apply. The Legal Aid Justice Center is committed to strengthening the voices of our low-income clients, working in collaboration with community partners, and rooting out the inequities that keep people in poverty. We strive to take on the issues that have broad impact on our client communities and to be responsive to client input. Recognizing the particular impact of racism on our clients and staff, we devote special attention to dismantling racial injustice. All applicants must be dedicated to working in and sustaining an environment that enables staff and clients to feel empowered, valued, respected, and safe. In reviewing applications, we look for evidence that applicants have experience and/or thoughtfulness in working with traditionally marginalized populations. 

Vaccination Requirement: The Legal Aid Justice Center requires all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved medical or religious exemption as a qualification of employment. Proof of vaccination or accommodation request must be provided within one day of employment.

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