Education Equity Attorney

For nearly 50 years, Public Advocates Inc. has been at the forefront of social justice movements in California as a bold and highly regarded civil rights law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination.  We pride ourselves on skillfully deploying a diverse set of legal and policy tools to achieve tangible legal victories and help low-income communities of color build their power to participate effectively in public decision-making.  We are excited to announce a new position on our Education Equity Team for an experienced Senior Staff Attorney to be based out of our Sacramento office.

Our Education Equity Team is recognized statewide for effective state and local advocacy and our ability to support our grassroots partners’ power-building efforts.  We work towards a racially just public education system where historically marginalized students and families have power to shape community schools, and students and caring adults feel supported to succeed.  In K-12 education, we work in close partnership with grassroots organizations of students and families of color to ensure full and equitable funding for all students – and especially socioeconomically disadvantaged students of color, to advance teacher quality reforms necessary to a diverse, prepared educator workforce, and ensure schools as places of belonging and inclusion where families and students are engaged in learning and shared decision making.  More recently we launched a Higher Education project focused on improving opportunity and outcomes for low-income students and college students of color, particularly those attending California’s community colleges.  Visit our website to learn more about our areas of work across school funding, diverse and prepared teachers, data and accountability, and seeding democracy through the development of meaningful student and parent power in school communities and on college campuses.

Responsibilities

The Senior Staff Attorney would support and develop the Education Equity Team’s teacher quality policy advocacy to ensure California has a diverse, well-prepared educator workforce and support additional projects depending on team needs, including local and/or state advocacy and legal implementation on topics such as phasing out discriminatory remedial education in the California community college system, equitable school funding, whole-child measures of school accountability, and creation of a statewide equity-driven data system.  This position has the potential to work in both areas of K-12 and Higher Education and as such would be supervised by the team’s Managing Attorney and the Higher Education director.  The key responsibility areas include:

  • Policy Advocacy: Develop, analyze and promote policy change at the state, federal and local levels, and sustain Public Advocates’ role in amplifying the voices of students of color in local and statewide coalitions
  • Community Partnership & Coalition Building: Build and maintain positive relationships with diverse statewide and grassroots student groups and other allies; leverage legal and policy expertise to enhance capacity of student partners and build power of students to impact their K12 and college experience through trainings and other resources
  • Legal & Administrative Advocacy: Work on precedent-setting cases at the trial level, on appeal and before state and federal courts and agencies, in collaboration with Ed Team attorneys and pro bono co-counsel; initiate and manage litigation and other advocacy depending on experience
  • Strategy & Project Management: Help shape the strategic direction of our education program work, incorporating policy advocacy, community collaboration, media and communication, and litigation to achieve our objectives; take initiative to plan and implement work in collaboration with community partners
  • Communication: Develop and execute outreach and media strategies, including messaging, community education, writing, social media and representing Public Advocates and coalitions to the press and public
  • Resource Development: Help identify and develop funding opportunities and contribute to foundation relations

Qualifications

  • Experience, ability and motivation to do the highest caliber legal work; successful candidate will have at least five to seven years of active litigation, policy and/or administrative advocacy, legal research and drafting experience
  • Excellent communication skills, including writing and including the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively about legal and policy issues to legal and lay audiences
  • Motivation and experience working within Black and other communities of color and/or low-income communities and commitment to community empowerment, self-determination and leadership development
  • Independence, initiative, creativity, diplomacy and capacity to work collaboratively both internally and with allies
  • Passion for public education with a growth mindset around becoming an expert in multiple aspects of the education landscape
  • CA Bar admission (preferred) or a plan to complete CA Bar admission in the very near future
  • Preference for one or more of the following:
    • Education policy and/or budget advocacy experience
    • Experience teaching in public schools
    • Higher education systems expertise
    • Communications and storytelling experience
    • Experience and interest in supervising others (law clerks and fellows, junior attorneys)
    • Experience in securing program grants and other fund development, organizational planning and/or writing for publication
    • Spanish-speaking skills

Qualities expected of all Public Advocates staff include integrity, high professional standards, commitment to progressive social change and working successfully with diverse colleagues, clients and community partners.  This includes active participation in promoting healthy workplace culture through our organizational diversity and inclusion initiative – an ongoing process of communication, trust-building and learning about our individual and organizational areas for growth.  We strive to build a culture of cooperation and mutual support and value flexibility, resilience, optimism, curiosity and a sense of humor.

Compensation & Work Setting

The Senior Staff Attorney would report to our downtown Sacramento office,* as this position would include in-person advocacy to the Legislature as well as administrative agencies.  Our Sacramento office is located just blocks from the Capitol, convenient to public transportation (we offer access to tax-advantaged commuter benefits).  Some travel would be likely within California, including to our main San Francisco office as well as to locations around the state.

Competitive salary range from $90,000 (for an attorney with at least 5 years of directly relevant experience) to $100,000+.  Salary considerations include relevant experience and internal equity.  Benefits include full health and dental insurance for employee and eligible family members; life and long-term disability insurance; generous vacation; 403(b) retirement plan; and paid sabbatical after 7 years.

*At the time of this posting all our staff are working from home through March 31, 2021.  We anticipate a return to the office when it is safe to do so.

Application Instructions

Applications welcome immediately; position open until filled.  To be considered, applications must include: 1) a cover letter that a) explains your specific interest in this role and in our advocacy model, b) addresses how your identity and background have prepared you to be an effective advocate for social justice and c) describes a project or challenge you have managed that will help us understand your qualifications; 2) a resume; 3) writing sample(s) that illustrate your reasoning and communication skills; and 4) names of three references, at least two of whom have directly supervised your work.  Submit your application (and/or questions) by email to attorney@publicadvocates.org.

Public Advocates seeks to fill this position with someone who shares our values, including our organizational commitment to diversity, equity & inclusion.  We encourage all interested individuals to apply — especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color; women; people from low-income backgrounds; people with disabilities; people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender or anyone belonging to any other federal or state protected category.  Read our Diversity Vision Statement here.

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