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Job Details

Legal Director

Company name
aclu of oregon

Portland, OR, United States

Employment Type


Posted on
Apr 23, 2020


Are you ready to help defend and advance civil liberties and civil rights? The ACLU of Oregon invites applications for its open Legal Director position.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon is an advocacy organization dedicated to defending and advancing civil liberties and civil rights through work in the courts, in the legislature, and in communities. We fight for free speech, racial justice, criminal justice reform, religious liberty, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, immigrants' rights, and more. We are organized as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, membership organization with nearly 50,000 members and supporters in Oregon. The ACLU of Oregon is an affiliate of the ACLU, our nation’s guardian of liberty for 100 years.

In addition to our strong mission and fulfilling, high-profile work, we strive to be better and are strengthening our commitment to equity and dismantling white supremacy. We will work together to help you find work life balance, offer generous benefits, and are conveniently located in vibrant downtown Portland.

Position Overview

The Legal Director is a thought leader who will work collaboratively to develop a vision for advancing an affirmative civil rights and liberties agenda and engaging in defensive battles against policies and practices that impact vulnerable Oregonians. This position is responsible for shaping, directing, and managing the ACLU of Oregon’s impact litigation and legal advocacy and works in partnership with clients, the legal team, the affiliate’s senior management team, the volunteer Lawyers Committee who approve litigation, ACLU national staff, coalition partners, and others to develop a strategic, smart, and innovative litigation docket at the state and federal levels. The successful candidate is a proven manager who will supervise, mentor, and lead our legal staff and pro bono attorneys. The Legal Director also ensures that legal program systems and processes are effectively aligned to support the legal team’s success in advancing the ACLU of Oregon’s priorities and goals. The Legal Director must demonstrate a strong commitment to racial equity and actively participate in work to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and incorporate a DEI lens to the legal department’s internal and external work.

Major Duties

As a manager​, the Legal Director:

  • Partners with the Legal Team on building a clearly defined legal program plan that incorporates effective legal strategies, establishes realistic objectives, measures overall progress against short term and long term goals, and generates reports that analyze program impact.
  • Effectively manages relationships with pro bono and volunteer attorneys to expand capacity and ensures all members of the Legal Team are building and maintaining these relationships.
  • Partners with our Legal Team to develop clear roles, expectations, divisions of labor, and measurements of success for the legal team staff.
  • Employs a coaching mentality in growing and leading the legal team, with a focus on ongoing professional development.
  • Supervises the day-to-day operations of the legal program, including establishing the systems and the goals to manage the legal docket and assure quality control and risk management.
  • Establishes effective systems and protocols for managing intake, tracking donated legal hours, and preparing all pertinent case documents, filings, briefings, and correspondence.
  • Adheres to and ensures that the program is fully compliant with the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct.

As a legal strategist​, the Legal Director:

  • Partners with the affiliate’s senior management team, the Lawyers Committee, and ACLU national staff, to advance ACLU of Oregon priorities through litigation, policy, communications, and development programs in an integrated advocacy model of law reform.
  • Oversees the identification and development of new litigation and other legal advocacy projectsconsistent with the mission and vision of the ACLU of Oregon.
  • Partners with the Legal Team and volunteer attorneys to develop and advance strategic legalgoals; coordinates with national ACLU’s legal program; discusses and approves overall strategy and legal theories; consults with litigation teams handling our cases, as needed.
  • Works collaboratively with Lawyers Committee leadership and members to innovate in strategic ways that ensure a highly productive and effective committee.
  • Engages in legal advocacy, in coordination with the communications and policy teams, to provide legal support that advances other ACLU of Oregon work, and to conduct community outreach as necessary. Directs the scope of, and manages (or delegates, as appropriate) the ACLU of Oregon’s legal observer programs and similar advocacy projects.
  • Assigns and manages strategies related to pre-litigation and non-litigation legal advocacy, including preparing demand letters, settlement negotiations, advocacy materials, public testimony, and public education resources.
  • Stays informed on current local and nationwide civil rights and civil liberties priorities and issues.

As an inclusive collaborator​, internally and externally, the Legal Director:

  • Participates in, creates, and sustains inclusive and engaging spaces for all people by demonstrating a commitment to racial equity, to dismantling white supremacy, and to operating with knowledge and understanding of how power is manifested in matters of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, ability, language, immigration status, national origin, and socioeconomic circumstances.
  • Works to build and sustain diverse and inclusive coalitions for the impact litigation or advocacy work of the Legal Program, always in coordination with the organization’s integrated advocacy goals.
  • Represents the ACLU publicly, speaking to the media and at public forums, events, and trainings, as assigned; and works with the communications team to draft strategic communications, including news releases, articles, and blogs that detail the impact of ACLU litigation work. Supports other staff, as needed, in doing the same.
  • Ensures internal/external stakeholder meetings are effectively, and inclusively, designed and facilitated.

As a resource developer​, the Legal Director:

  • Works with the development team to drive fundraising efforts by participating in meetings with major donors, speaking at donor forums and events, as needed.
  • Develops an annual departmental budget and monitors departmental expenditures.
  • Develops strong relationships with the private bar, and recruits, retains, and supervises volunteer (or pro bono) attorneys.

Experience, Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities required

  • Juris Doctor degree is required. Must obtain Oregon Bar admission within a year of employment.
  • Proven commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Proven commitment to integrity.
  • Experience in all aspects of litigation, excellent problem-solving skills, ability to juggle multiple ongoing projects and exercise good judgment under stressful situations.
  • Broad substantive knowledge of constitutional law, civil rights law, civil procedure, and ethical obligations.
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively manage a litigation team and to provide mentoring anddevelopment of staff toward increasing levels of success.
  • Superior written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively and professionally with clients, other counsel,volunteers, staff, and coalition partners with a commitment to the highest ethical standards.
  • Excellent organization and time management skills to manage one’s own work, as well as others’, and to assure timely completion of assignments and projects.
  • Experience in conducting and supervising complex legal research and analysis.
  • Experience working with marginalized or impacted communities, grassroots organizations, and non-governmental organizations.
  • Requires excellent organization and time management skills to manage one’s own work as wellas others’, and to assure timely completion of assignments and projects.
  • Fluency in Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat.
  • Can obtain Oregon Bar admission within a year of employment.
  • Ability and availability to travel and to work extended hours, including evening and weekends,as necessary.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the ACLU’s mission, and the ability to stay abreast of current organizational priorities, including a wide range of civil liberties and civil rights issues.

Preferred Skills and Competencies

  • Spanish speaking and writing ability.
  • Knowledge of Oregon Constitution.
  • Previous ACLU staff or volunteer experience.
  • Direct experience with volunteer and intern management.
  • Has a team-building, warm, and collegial management style focused on recruiting, training, working collaboratively, holding accountable, and mobilizing diverse internal and external partners.
  • Experience with CLIO or similar, cloud-based, document management software.
  • Experience with Westlaw or LexisNexis.

Compensation and Benefits

This is a salaried, exempt, full-time position. The salary range for this Legal Director position is $85,000 - $115,000 depending on experience. Excellent benefits include paid time off, paid holidays, medical, dental and vision insurance, 401k retirement plan, life insurance, and long-term disability insurance.

The Legal Director will report to the Executive Director and join a talented and highly motivated team, which includes attorneys, communications experts, legislative and policy advocates, and fundraisers. The position may have direct reports including but not limited to paralegal, Immigration Rights Attorney, Staff Attorney, Intake and other volunteers.

The ACLU of Oregon is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture, and we encourage applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, disability, veteran status, or record of arrest or conviction.

To apply:

Please submit a cover letter to our email address that illustrates your commitment to civil liberties and civil rights, a current resume, and contact information for three professional references. Include “Legal Director Search” in the subject line and specify how you heard about the posting. No phone calls or walk-ins, please.

Company info

aclu of oregon

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