Click here for PDF of the position description.

Public Advocates is excited to announce our search for a Senior Legislative Counsel or Senior Policy Advocate on our K-12 Education Equity Team based in our Sacramento office.  We will also consider candidates with less years of relevant experience for a Legislative Counsel or Policy Advocate position.

For over 50 years, Public Advocates 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.

Our K-12 Education Equity Team is recognized statewide for ground-breaking state and local advocacy that supports building power with grassroots partners.  We work towards a racially just public education system where historically marginalized students and families have power and agency to lead in their school communities, and students and caring adults feel supported to succeed.  Our team has lead advocacy on significant improvements to our public education system, including winning and shaping the Local Control Funding Formula, the largest overhaul of California’s school funding and accountability system in the past 50 years to make it more equitable and participatory, as well as a community-driven effort to win over $4 billion for transformative community schools, the largest such investment in the nation.

Position Summary

The Senior Legislative Counsel or Senior Policy Advocate will work with the K-12 Education Equity Team to support and develop the team’s statewide administrative policy and budget advocacy.

Our new team member will:

  • Advocate before members and staff of state agencies, including the CA Department of Education and State Board of Education, the California Legislature, and the Governor’s Office
  • Build strong relationships to collaborate deeply with grassroots and community-based organizations to ensure state policy advocacy is driven by low-income BIPOC communities across the state
  • Work with members of our legal and policy teams, our statewide coalition partners, and local communities directly, to ensure alignment of our state advocacy with local and regional campaigns


  • Legislative and Administrative Policy and Budget Advocacy: Develop, analyze and promote policy change at the state, federal and local levels, and continue to grow Public Advocates’ role in amplifying the voices of students of color in local and statewide coalitions to implement K-12 education policy, budget and regulatory wins
  • Community Partnership & Coalition Building: Participate in developing new and strengthening existing statewide networks and coalitions of diverse grassroots and policy organizations, and in building the capacity of local and grassroots groups to advocate effectively for state policy and investment reforms; leverage legal and policy expertise to enhance capacity of community partners and build power of students and families to impact their K-12 education experience
  • Strategy & Project Management: Help shape the strategic direction of our education program work, incorporating policy advocacy, community collaboration, media and communication, and possibly litigation to achieve our objectives; take initiative to plan and implement work in collaboration with community partners
  • Strategic 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 in partnership with the Director of Communications/communications team
  • Resource Development: Help identify and develop funding opportunities and contribute to foundation relations

Qualities and Skills Sought

We encourage and welcome applicants who are passionate about advancing racial and economic justice in K-12 public education.  We are committed to equity in our hiring process and to building a staff with robust and diverse backgrounds.  We recognize the value that lived experience in racial and social justice brings to a workplace and we encourage skilled candidates, including people from historically marginalized or underrepresented identities or communities, to apply even if not all formal qualifications are met.  The Senior Legislative Counsel or Senior Policy Advocate will receive mentorship and support from the K-12 Educational Equity Team to grow the skills needed to be successful in this position.

  • Experience, ability and motivation to do the highest caliber policy advocacy work; 7 or more years of policy and/or administrative advocacy, legislative or campaign experience or equivalent legal or advocacy experience, at the federal, state or local level; 4 to 6 years of experience for junior-level applicants
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and persuasively about policy issues to legal and community audiences
  • Social justice and racial equity lens; motivation and experience working with Black and other communities of color and/or low-income communities and commitment to community power, self-determination and leadership development
  • Strong political instinct and judgment, and adept analytical skills
  • Initiative, creativity, diplomacy and capacity to work collaboratively with our team, allies, and across political differences to promote Public Advocates’ policy agenda
  • Strong organizational skills and the ability to successfully manage multiple and changing priorities and deadlines
  • Passion for public education with a growth mindset around becoming an expert in multiple aspects of the K-12 education landscape
  • For the Senior Legislative Counsel or Legislative Counsel position, a J.D. and California Bar Admission are required.
  • Preference for two or more of the following:
    • Education policy and/or budget advocacy experience
    • Knowledge of K-12 education legal and/or policy issues
    • Experience building and working with statewide coalitions
    • Experience working with grassroots or community-based organizations
    • Experience working in K-12 public schools
    • Legal research and writing, statutory analysis or litigation experience
    • Communications and storytelling experience
    • Experience and interest in supervising and supporting the professional development of interns, law clerks, fellows, and junior attorneys (for senior-level position)
    • Experience in securing program grants and other fund development, organizational planning and/or writing for publication (for senior-level position)
    • For the Senior Policy Advocate or Policy Advocate position a Masters of Public Policy, J.D. or other relevant graduate degree or experience

Qualities uplifted by all Public Advocates staff include integrity, high professional standards, commitment to progressive social change, racial and economic justice, 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

This position will be based out of our downtown Sacramento office as it would include in-person advocacy to the Legislature as well as administrative agencies.  At the time of this posting, our office-based staff are currently adhering to a hybrid-model of remote and in-person work.  Our Sacramento office is located a few short blocks from the Capitol, and is 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 or possibly nationally.

Competitive salary range begins at:

  • $105,000 for a Senior Legislative Counsel with 7-8 years of experience but actual salary will be based on relevant experience and internal equity considerations.
  • $88,500 for a Legislative Counsel with 4 years of post-graduate experience and will increase based on a fixed-step scale (which ends at 5 years).  Salary for attorneys with at least 5 years of experience begins at $91,500 and will be based on relevant experience and internal equity considerations.
  • $90,000 for a Senior Policy Advocate with 7-8 years of experience but actual salary will be based on relevant experience and internal equity considerations. 
  • $80,000 for a Policy Advocate with 4-6 years of post-graduate experience but actual salary will be based on relevant experience and internal equity considerations.

Benefits include full health and dental insurance for employee and eligible family members; flexible spending accounts for health and dependent care; life and long-term disability insurance; generous vacation; 403(b) retirement plan; parental leave; professional development budget; and paid sabbatical after 7 years.

Public Advocates adopted a COVID-19 vaccination policy, effective December 1, 2021, that requires all employees to either establish that they have been fully vaccinated (this now includes the first booster) or obtain an approved exemption as an accommodation.  While we have not yet updated the policy to include the second or subsequent boosters, such a revision will be forthcoming.  All staff are expected to abide by this policy and subsequent revisions.

Application Instructions

Applications welcome immediately; position open until filled.  Priority review will be given to applications received by January 16th.  

To be considered, applications must include: 1) a cover letter that a) explains your specific interest in this role and in our advocacy model (see also Background Information below), 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) a writing sample that illustrates your analytical reasoning and communication skills; and 4) names and contact information of three references, at least two of whom have directly supervised your work.  Submit your application (and/or questions) by email to

Background Organizational Information

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 meaningfully in public decision-making.

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 build 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.

Public Advocates seeks to fill this position with someone who shares our values. At Public Advocates, we’re always looking for great people to work with.  We value diversity in our workplace, including people of color, women, people with disabilities, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, and anyone belonging to any other federal or state protected category.  Read our Diversity Vision Statement here.

Senior Legislative Counsel or Senior Policy Advocate– K12 Education
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