The ACLU of Vermont is inviting applications for a Legal Director. We seek a talented and experienced litigator with strategic vision, strong management skills, and a collaborative approach to lead our proactive, high-impact legal program, continue building our in-house litigation capacity, and leverage external and cross-departmental resources to make an even greater impact on the civil rights and civil liberties landscape in Vermont.
Please note that due to COVID-19, our organization is currently operating 100% remotely. This will continue until at least March 31, 2021, and we are likely to extend our remote work policy and remote work flexibility well beyond that date. It is our expectation that the person hired to fill this position will eventually work from our Montpelier office with occasional travel throughout Vermont.
For the past 100 years, the ACLU has been at the forefront of every major civil liberties ﬁght in our country’s history. This is a remarkable opportunity to join a thriving ACLU affiliate whose legal program recently celebrated multiple, historic Vermont Supreme Court victories involving racial justice and police accountability, and several other high-profile settlements advancing Vermonters’ rights and liberties.
Recognizing our democracy faces unprecedented challenges, the ACLU of Vermont is taking our statewide advocacy to the next level: strengthening our litigation and advocacy capacity, expanding communications and public engagement strategies, and building new infrastructure for issue campaigns and electoral engagement. We are committed to fostering a strong internal culture of belonging, with an emphasis on inclusive and equitable practices and increasing organizational diversity.
We are a passionate, highly motivated group of lawyers, public policy experts, lobbyists, communications professionals, community organizers, and fundraisers, and we are looking for exceptional talent to join our team.
Reporting to the Executive Director, and working in close collaboration with our two Senior Staff Attorneys, the Legal Director will help to set and coordinate overall legal strategy to advance the ACLU of Vermont’s mission, developing and litigating high-impact cases in priority areas of racial and economic justice, police accountability and criminal justice, immigrants’ rights, and a variety of other core ACLU issue areas.
The Legal Director will be responsible for the day-to-day management of staﬀ, volunteers, and cooperating attorneys, as well as working in close coordination with our advocacy and communications teams, National ACLU colleagues, and other local and national partners to advance our strategic priorities.
- Maintain and develop an ambitious impact litigation and advocacy docket that advances ACLU strategic priorities and responds to immediate or emerging threats to Vermonters’ rights and liberties.
- In close collaboration with ACLU of Vermont Senior Staff Attorneys, manage all aspects of the ACLU of Vermont’s legal program, including coordinating the selection of cases; overseeing investigation and development of cases before commencing litigation; building litigation teams with in-house lawyers, private attorneys, and nonproﬁt partners; litigating in federal and state court; and overseeing ongoing litigation.
- Maintain an individual caseload of developing and active litigation and amicus briefs, including pre-litigation investigations, discovery, motion practice, brief writing, hearings and trials, and appellate work.
- Supervise two Senior Staﬀ Attorneys and any law fellows or interns; handle recruiting and hiring for additional legal staﬀ (budget permitting); and foster a collaborative organizational culture within the legal program that encourages staﬀ development through internal and external resources.
- Coordinate and collaborate with other ACLU of Vermont staff to implement integrated advocacy campaigns and high-impact strategies utilizing legal, communications, public education, legislative, and ﬁeld organizing programs. Advise communications team on publications addressing legal issues and cases and serve as a resource on legal matters for staﬀ, partners, and other constituents.
- Develop equitable and reciprocal relationships with community organizations and networks – particularly community members impacted by policing and incarceration and racial justice initiatives led by people of color – and help advance the organization’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in both its internal and external-facing work.
- Broaden and deepen relationships with the ACLU of Vermont’s volunteer attorneys and other lawyers in the state to ensure the visibility of the ACLU in the Vermont legal community (and beyond) and help build our legal docket, including by engaging lawyers in ACLU litigation and activities.
- Work with ACLU of Vermont’s Legal Advisory Panel, which includes lawyers on and appointed by the Board, to recommend litigation and amicus briefs and to advance organizational and departmental goals, including staﬀ development.
- Serve as a highly visible spokesperson for the ACLU, working closely with our outreach and communications team to regularly engage in strategic public forums, advocacy discussions, and media opportunities.
- Oversee implementation of legal program policies and procedures including intake review, case selection process, paper and electronic ﬁling systems, legal docket, timekeeping, retainer agreements, malpractice prevention and insurance, and cooperating attorney agreements.
- Provide systemic and strategic planning and reporting, including developing budgets, providing quarterly reports on legal department activities for the Board, and supporting reporting on grants with legal department deliverables.
- Present a positive and professional face at all times when representing the ACLU of Vermont and help maintain a welcoming environment for employees and volunteers.
- Develop and maintain relationships with staﬀ at the ACLU’s National oﬃce and other state aﬃ
- Keep the Executive Director and other staff informed about signiﬁcant legal developments and controversies.
- Other duties as assigned.
- At least 10-12 years of litigation experience in state and federal courts preferred, including class actions and appeals, with a strong background in constitutional law and civil rights.
- Demonstrated commitment to civil rights and civil liberties consistent with the mission and goals of the ACLU; prior experience litigating for racial and economic justice preferred.
- Admitted to the Vermont Bar or eligible for admission.
- Demonstrated record of moving legal cases forward from investigation and development through all levels of the court system, with experience working with clients from diverse constituencies; extensive familiarity with the working and operation of state and local government.
- Project management experience and goal-oriented approach; the ideal candidate is skilled at developing a strategic vision in alignment with ACLU of Vermont organizational priorities, with an ability to recognize and maximize opportunities on behalf of the organization.
- Management experience in recruiting, training, mentoring, managing, collaborating with, and motivating a diverse, high-performing litigation team; ability to work cooperatively and effectively with others to set goals, resolve problems, and exercise good judgment. The ideal candidate is a team player who inspires collaboration, lifts up the work of others, and maintains balance and perspective with patience and a sense of humor; proven ability to build and nurture a calm and positive working environment, even in high-intensity situations.
- Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, both in the workplace and in collaboration with community partners and constituents. Proven ability to work with emotional intelligence, receive feedback, work through conflict with integrity, and operate within principles of solidarity when working in partnership with constituencies impacted by oppression. Proven ability to work in a manner that respects differences in race, ethnicity, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, ability, and socio-economic circumstance.
- Exceptional research, writing, and analytical skills; excellent oral communication skills; proven ability to clearly communicate complex legal issues both in the courtroom and to the public; and proven ability to develop and implement short- and long-term litigation strategies in trial and appellate proceedings in both state and federal courts.
- Strong self-motivation, organizational skills, a demonstrated capacity to work in a timely and professional manner under multiple deadlines; a creative and strategic approach to problem-solving and litigation; and the ability to coordinate with and manage staﬀ attorneys and outside cooperating counsel.
- Ability to work irregular hours, including evening and weekend events as necessary. Valid driver’s license or driver’s privilege card, reliable vehicle, and willingness to travel.