“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
At Open Door Legal (ODL), we’re pioneering the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation to dramatically reduce poverty and prove that the law really can belong to all of us. To achieve this ambitious goal, we’ve created an award-winning and best-in-class legal aid organization full of passionate, motivated, gritty, thoughtful, and team-oriented people.
We believe that injustice is the heart of poverty and we’re looking for someone to join us in having a systemic impact on how we, as a society, ensure justice for all.
Overview of Position
Our elders steward a community’s wealth and legacy. Providing legal help to this population prevents displacement, prolongs life, and increases economic stability. In the communities we serve, many folks own homes purchased decades ago that have now dramatically increased in value. Thus, many elders find themselves with both low income and high assets. To enable them to age in place and ensure this wealth stays in the community, you will litigate cases on behalf of San Franciscans over the age of 60.
Open Door Legal has been serving older community members in the Bayview, Western Addition, and Excelsior districts of San Francisco for many years. In 2023, we are expanding to serve Districts D1 (the Richmond), D4 (the Sunset), and D7 (West Portal). We have current staff members knowledgeable in probate court, estate plans and foreclosure relief, and we are looking for someone with a drive to litigate contentious cases in the probate division and San Francisco County civil court to round out our team. ODL wants to ensure representation for all, and prioritizes clients who cannot find help elsewhere, including from other pro bono attorneys. You will work closely with private attorneys to try to place a case before taking it yourself unless it’s an emergency. Thus, if you have experience with civil procedure, litigation strategy, negotiation know-how, comfortability with aggressive opposing party counsels, and direct client management skills we encourage you to apply.
You should thrive being versatile, gritty, and willing to take calculated risks. Success in this role requires grit, dynamism, teamwork, care, and passion (our team’s five values). You will report directly to our Senior Elder Law Attorney.
- Embody our mission of universal access to civil legal aid and work with the Elder and Civil Litigation teams to make sure that the civil litigation, including probate, needs of our elderly and homeowner clients in our expanded service area are met.
- Own and/or co-counsel on 20-30 cases simultaneously while being assisted by the Senior Elder Law Attorney, Elder Law Legal Secretary, Managing Civil Litigation attorney, two Staff Civil Litigation Attorneys, and legal fellows/volunteers.
- Litigate cases at San Francisco Superior Court mainly in the Probate and the Civil Departments. Be comfortable litigating solo but you will also have staff or pro bono attorneys as co-counsel. Potentially represent clients in the Northern District Court of CA.
- Mainly litigate cases around financial and physical elder abuse and claims, including restraining orders, conservatorships, trust contests, undue influence claims, probate disputes, and foreclosure defense. Also as needed, litigate mortgage refinancing, partitions, quiet title, predatory lending and contract disputes.
- As a litigator, jump in and take cases in the relevant areas of law (they may be in other areas of law than what is listed above) to increase the capacity of the Elder Law team and as needed, Civil Litigation Team, and make sure ODL’s mission is met. Work quickly on challenging, intellectually interesting, and interpersonally difficult cases.
- This is a hybrid in-office position. Requires working at an office (likely in the Outer Sunset neighborhood) at least one day a week and some travel to other offices as needed by the team. May need to make hospital and/or home visits, depending on the client’s needs.
- Research novel questions of law and procedure, draft pleadings, manage cases through all stages of litigation: File, oppose, and argue discovery, dispositive, and pre-trial motions. Propound and answer discovery. Depose witnesses and defend depositions including client and witness preparation for lay people, experts, and professionals.
- Attend and prepare clients for court hearings, mediations, arbitrations, and trials in state and federal court.
- Help keep our knowledge base up to date and actively contribute to creating best practices for the Elder Law department.
- Provide services and support to our low-income clients with sensitivity and awareness to cultural, socio-economic, and disability barriers to service and skillfully navigate difficult or tense situations. Ensure that the Elder Law department’s client feedback rating continues to be positive.
- Participate in developing and maintaining strong relations with government agencies, decision-makers, and the community, especially in relation to the areas of law your team handles.
- Manage and mentor seasonal interns, volunteer attorneys, pro bono counsel, and fellows.
- Embrace and embody our values of teamwork, grit, caring, passion, and dynamism.
- Membership in good standing with the California State Bar. Applicants without active California bar membership will not be considered. However, those without a license are encouraged to apply to volunteer with us at opendoorlegal.org/volunteer.
- Must have experience appearing in court.
- Strong time management skills and the ability to organize case tasks, manage diverse activities, and meet critical deadlines with minimal supervision.
- Excellent writing, editing, research and proof-reading skills, with the ability to be detail oriented.
- Must be willing to take calculated risks and make relatively fast decisions when it comes to ambiguous litigation situations.
- Must genuinely enjoy and be motivated by working with low-income clients and be able to work competently with clients impacted by trauma (emotional, mental, and physical).
- Must actively demonstrate cultural humility and sensitivity to barriers low-income residents face when attempting to access the justice system.
- Ability to work out of our office at least one day a week and come into an ODL office at least one other day.
- Have a high level of comfort learning and using technology and cloud-based case management systems. We use Salesforce, Dropbox, and Google Suite.
- Embrace and embody our values of teamwork, grit, caring, passion, and dynamism.
- Must be willing to make a minimum two-year commitment to the organization.
- Comfortable practicing, translating, and interpreting in Spanish and/or Cantonese (this comes with additional compensation).
- Knowledge of California civil procedure.
- Experience appearing in San Francisco Superior Civil Court (more than 2 years).
- Experience working with low-income and vulnerable populations.
- Experience working in a high-volume legal aid or similar environment.
- Having lived a significant period of your life in San Francisco proper, especially the West-side neighborhoods of SF.
- Willingness to work out of ODL offices four days a week.
- Experience using Salesforce.
This is an exempt position, starting at $77,500 with increases added based on prior experience.
Ideal starting date for this position: December 12, 2022
Priority Application date: November 25, 2022
Apply here: https://open-door-legal.breezy.hr/p/32137c08eea5
- 100% Covered Premium Plans for Medical/Dental/Vision
- Commuter benefits
- FSA and HSA
- Loan Repayment Assistance Fund for school loans subject to Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Generous paid time off per year
- Paid Parental Leave
- Mental Health Benefits
- Internal advancement opportunities. We believe everyone is always learning. We write individual learning plans for each staff member and provide many internal and external mentorships, coaching, and learning opportunities (conferences, workshops, etc.).
- We are a fun and hard-working office with best-in-class technology solutions (including Salesforce) for anyone who’s passionate about making a meaningful and measurable difference.
Open Door Legal is proud to be an Equal Opportunity employer. We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender status, sexual stereotypes, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or any other applicable legally protected characteristics. We also consider qualified applicants with criminal histories, consistent with applicable federal, state, and local law.
We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities in our recruiting process. If you need any assistance or accommodations due to a disability, please let us know at whitney [at] opendoorlegal [dot] org.