Staff Attorney

Attorney Job Opening


Family Violence Appellate Project is the only organization in California dedicated to appealing cases on behalf of survivors of domestic violence.  We are committed to social justice and are dedicated to shaping California law to prioritize the safety of survivors and children by representing clients in the California Courts of Appeal, submitting amicus curiae briefs in cases of statewide importance, monitoring unpublished cases daily and requesting publication of important domestic violence cases, and engaging in legislative and systems change advocacy efforts.  We are also committed to supporting the statewide network of domestic violence and legal aid service providers by providing trainings, technical assistance, and written informational materials, and by facilitating information exchange among statewide stakeholders supporting survivors.  If you are interested in being part of this exciting social justice movement and resource for domestic violence survivors and advocates across California, this is the place for you!  You can learn more at


FVAP is seeking a full-time attorney to join our exceptional and dynamic staff in our Oakland, California office.  We value diverse experiences and backgrounds.  FVAP’s clientele is extremely diverse, and we serve individuals and advocates throughout the state, including rural, suburban, and urban populations.  The ideal candidate will bring skills and experiences enabling the candidate to serve these diverse populations adeptly in the context of domestic violence and appellate litigation.  Any candidate must be willing to pitch in wherever needed to support a small nonprofit.  The immediate supervisor is the Director of Programs.


Skills & Abilities:  A successful attorney has exceptionally strong critical thinking, legal, analytical, and writing skills and is able to perform professionally in a fast-paced environment.  This will necessitate multi-tasking, prioritizing tasks, and changing focus when circumstances demand.  You are able to communicate effectively with many different stakeholders, including FVAP’s team members, law student clerks, volunteer law firm attorneys, experienced domestic violence advocates and other community members who are not attorneys, and prospective clients from all different backgrounds.  You are able and willing to supervise and manage people at all levels, including law student clerks and senior law firm partners who act as our co-counsel.  You are detail-oriented and capable of managing a full slate of cases and tracking and complying with dozens of litigation and other deadlines at once.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities:


Duties include the following (other duties may be assigned):


  • Analyzing trial court records and the legal issues in each case and making a recommendation on whether FVAP should accept the case for appeal;
  • Consulting with the legal team on case selection and strategy;
  • Successfully managing a full, active docket of appellate cases, including supervising and assisting FVAP’s pro bono attorneys in private practice who are working on appeals, including editing and possibly drafting portions of appellate briefs with the pro bono team, and preparing attorneys for oral argument;
  • Editing and possibly drafting appellate motions and portions of briefs, case publication requests, written informational materials, and other legal documents;
  • Taking lead responsibility for at least one of FVAP’s programs, such as our training, technical assistance, written informational materials, case publication, legislative advocacy program, and/or supervising a full-time fellow.
  • Supervising law student interns, including giving written feedback on their work;
  • Providing technical assistance to attorneys, other services providers, and pro se litigants on legal and procedural issues related to trial-level or appellate cases;
  • Providing trainings to legal services agencies, domestic violence agencies, and other statewide stakeholders;
  • Performing outreach and fostering connections with stakeholders in other regions of California;
  • Opportunities may be available to advocate for domestic violence legislation or other systems changes on behalf of FVAP;
  • Analyzing social science literature in the field of domestic violence;
  • Representing FVAP in the community to service providers, community partners, pro bono law firms, and others;
  • Advancing FVAP’s Theory of Change and commitment to cultural responsiveness;
  • Assisting with administrative and fundraising tasks as needed, including grant reports; checking and responding to office mail, email, fax, and voice mail; assisting with preparation of materials for board meetings; keeping client databases current; attending fundraising events; and other office tasks;
  • Some travel may be required.


Physical and Environmental Conditions:  Performance of duties and tasks uses standard office equipment, including telephone equipment and computers.  Work is performed inside with exposure to heating and air-conditioning.  Driving or other travel may be required.  The attorney may be able to work remotely some days, subject to organizational needs.


Required Qualifications and Experience:

  • D. from accredited university and licensed, active member of California Bar;
  • Experiences that will enable you to provide superb appellate advocacy, technical assistance, and outreach to a diverse client population and community of domestic violence service providers;
  • Ability to produce polished appellate legal briefs with little direction or intervention;
  • Nuanced understanding of civil trial court practice and procedures;
  • Ability to analyze and apply California domestic violence law, family law, and appellate procedure;
  • Excellent communication, writing, editing, and organizational skills;
  • Willingness and interest in effectively supporting and supervising others;
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team;
  • Ability to adapt to and work in the fast-paced environment of a small nonprofit;
  • Willingness to pitch in and help out as needed; and
  • A commitment to working on behalf of survivors of domestic violence and their children.


Preferred Qualifications and Experience:

  • Prior appellate experience;
  • Experience in domestic violence and/or family law trial court practice, or another similar type of trial court practice;
  • An understanding of the dynamics of, and the legal, social, and personal issues raised by, domestic violence;
  • Experience working with clients in crisis and low-income clients;
  • Experience presenting trainings or speaking in front of a crowd;
  • Bilingual in Spanish or another language a plus; and
  • Diversity of personal and professional experience.


Classification:  This position is exempt, full-time, and at-will.


Compensation:  Starting salary depends on relevant experience and will be commensurate with comparable nonprofit salaries in Alameda County.  The salary range is expected to be between $66,000-$86,569.  If the candidate’s experience meets the expectations of a Senior Managing Attorney at FVAP, we will discuss if the Senior Managing Attorney position and salary scale (starting at $89,900) is appropriate.  FVAP offers a generous benefits package, including subsidized health, dental, vision, life, and AD&D insurance; 401(k) retirement plan with 3% employer match after 1 year; FSA plan for commuting, parking, health, and dependent care expenses; Employee Assistance Plan and travel assistance; 3 weeks paid time off/year, with longevity increases; 12 paid holidays/year; and paid attorney bar dues and continuing legal education.


To Apply:    The position will be open until filled.  Resumes will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning January 21, 2020.  Candidates are encouraged to apply early in the process.  The ideal start date is February 2020.


To apply, please email or mail a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and three professional references to:

Erin Smith, Executive Director

Family Violence Appellate Project, 449 15th Street, Suite 104, Oakland, CA 94612


Your cover letter should speak to: 1) why you are interested in working at FVAP; 2) how your background or experiences, professional or otherwise, have prepared you to contribute to our work and perform the required and any preferred qualifications, and; 3) how your background or experiences, professional or otherwise, have prepared you to contribute to our commitment to diversity and cultural responsiveness amongst our staff.  Feel free to think broadly about your response to these questions, applying various aspects of your life and personal experiences.


To promote social justice and best serve our clients, FVAP is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to maintaining a diverse staff and providing culturally responsive services.  Individuals of all races, ethnicities, national origins, religions, ages, sexes, sexual orientations, and gender identities, as well as differently abled persons, survivors of domestic violence, candidates from traditionally underrepresented communities and historically oppressed groups, bilingual and bicultural candidates, and those who are the first in their family to complete college or graduate school, are encouraged to apply.


FVAP is located in Oakland, California.  We are convenient to multiple bus lines and BART.


Thank you for your interest in FVAP!

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