Staff Attorney

Position Summary

The Sustainable Economies Law Center is excited to add 1-2 new members to our team! We are looking for full-time (30 hours per week) core staff members to help us bolster our legal capacity across a number of program areas.

The specific subject areas of the legal work can adapt and evolve over time based on organizational need and your interests. At the moment, our major focus is serving the transactional legal needs of clients in the sectors of community-owned renewable energy, food sovereignty, permanently affordable housing, worker cooperatives, and community ownership of farmland. We are looking for an attorney(s) with deep experience in some or all of the following legal skills:

  • Nonprofit, small business, and/or cooperative entity formation
  • Cooperative conversions (aka mergers and acquisitions, business restructuring and reorganization, etc.)
  • Real estate acquisition and financing
  • Small business finance
  • Employment law
  • Land use regulations

We expect that new staff’s roles will break down approximately as follows:

  • 80% of their time doing legal research, writing, advising, and education (including external training and internal staff mentorship). This might include serving clients through our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, providing counsel to our incubated projects (e.g. People Power Solar Cooperative and East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative), identifying new clients furthering food/housing/land justice and/or community ownership of energy, and public policy research and bill drafting.
  • 20% of their time contributing to the overall governance and functioning of our collectively-managed organization. This might include attending all-staff “General Circle” meetings, contributing to annual grassroots fundraising efforts, participating in and leading internal staff trainings, supporting with our nonprofit legal compliance, and more.


Who We Are Looking For

We are looking for people with a strong commitment to social and economic justice, a depth of experience in transactional law,  and excitement about joining a democratically governed organization. More specifically, we’re looking for someone who has a knack for legal issue spotting, research, writing, and advising. Above all, we are looking for someone who possesses and practices curiosity, kindness, diligence, solidarity, and integrity.


People of color, transgender and gender nonconforming people, people from poor and working class backgrounds, people with disabilities, and women are encouraged to apply.


DESIRED Skills & Experience

If you don’t think you have every one of these skills or experience, that’s okay! Please don’t let that stop you from applying. You might be the person we’re looking for!

  • Licensed to practice law in California
  • At least five years of experience practicing law
  • Strong legal research and writing skills
  • Enjoys working with clients
  • Ability to work well independently and with limited direction or supervision
  • Enjoys working in teams: co-counseling clients and mentoring less experienced lawyers
  • Strong organization skills (including project, time, and task management)
  • Ability to communicate legal information for a popular audience
  • Enjoys legal review and answering legal questions from other Law Center staff
  • Lived experience or experience working with communities of color, poor and working-class communities, immigrant communities, and other marginalized groups
  • Desire to engage with democratic decision-making in the workplace
  • Ability to have difficult conversations and/or resolve conflict with coworkers
  • Previous experience advancing energy democracy, food sovereignty, housing justice, or land justice
  • Spanish fluency/native speaker


Information about Sustainable Economies Law Center

Our mission is to cultivate a new legal landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment. We provide essential legal tools – education, research, advice, and advocacy – so communities everywhere can develop their own sustainable sources of food, housing, energy, jobs, and other vital aspects of a thriving community.

We are a worker self-directed nonprofit. This means that we use democratic governance and decision-making systems that provide all staff with a voice in the direction of the organization, their own work flow, and the conditions of the workplace. We expect that all core staff participate in decision-making that affects the entire organization.

We share roles and responsibilities. Most staff take on a diversity of roles within the organization, based on the organization’s needs and staff members’ interests and skills. In addition to your programmatic roles, you will also join one of the following operational teams: Abundance (fundraising), Grants, Financial (internal financial management), Admin, Internal Resilience (organizational culture), or Communications. Your list of programmatic and operational roles can evolve over time, with the potential to contribute to other areas of our work than where you start out.

In our dynamic organization, everyone wears multiple “hats.” While this position will be primarily focused on legal issues, the role may be adapted in some ways over time to fit the hired person’s skills and interests. For example, the 20% of this role that is currently allocated to the General Circle may be reworked to prioritize operations or programmatic work over participation in collective decision-making and governance processes.

There’s more! The Law Center has some unique policies intended to create a healthy, inclusive and effective work environment. Read more about our systems of accountability, autonomy, and democracy within our organizational structure.


Before submitting an application feel free to watch our informational videos below. They explain a little bit about our dynamic organizational structure, our office culture, and what you should expect of our hiring process. Sometimes, folks don’t actually like the way we work. And that’s okay, since every co-worker has the chance to help shape the organization! We believe working for a democratic organization is more effective, equitable, and empowering; and at the same time, it requires an interest in sharing responsibility for the wellbeing of the organization as a whole.


Video: Take a tour of our (old) office! (“No fancy pants” rules still apply.)


Video: Bringing on new members to our dynamic, constantly evolving Law Center!


Employment & Benefit Details

  • Compensation: Law Center staff are compensated based on an equitable pay structure that starts at a minimum base salary of $60,137. Actual salary is based on geography and need to support children and other dependents.
  • Hours: We consider a full-time work week to be 30 hours.
  • Location: Our office is located in downtown Oakland. Bay Area staff are expected to work in the office, on average, 2 days per week (when not in Shelter in Place). Remaining days can be in the office or remote.
  • Time Off: We have a “free time off policy,” which means that there is no universal limit to paid time off during a calendar year. Each core staff member has the opportunity and responsibility to take as much paid time off as they see fit, so long as they can fulfill their roles and responsibilities to the organization.
  • Health Insurance: We offer health insurance for staff and children dependents (and cover the premiums for spouses who have no other insurance access) and flexible spending accounts.
  • Child Care: We contribute $5,000 to a flexible spending account for dependent care per staff member with children under the age of 10.
  • Family Leave: We provide 12 weeks of paid parental and/or caregiving leave.
  • Sabbatical: We have a sabbatical policy that permits a 12-week sabbatical after working at the organization for 5 years.

How to Apply

People of color, people from poor and working class backgrounds, transgender and gender nonconforming people, people with disabilities, and women are encouraged to apply.

If you don’t think you qualify for everything in this job description, that’s okay! Please don’t let that stop you from applying. You might be the person we’re looking for.


Important Information:

How to Apply: Please fill out our Application Form by 11:59pm PST on September 20th, 2020.

Estimated Timeline: We are accepting applications through September 20, 2020. We expect to conduct interviews from late September through early October.

Questions? Please email with the SUBJECT: “STAFF ATTY APPLICATION QUESTION”


Thank you for taking the time to submit your responses. We’re looking forward to reading your application!


Click here to apply!