Staff Attorney – Legal Services for Entrepreneurs
We are looking for an attorney with excellent written and oral advocacy skills, who is passionate about economic justice and small business development, devoted to movement lawyering, and committed to working in a collaborative environment.
As one of the oldest civil rights institutions on the West Coast, our goal at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area is to dismantle systems of oppression and racism, and to build an equitable and just society. Formed in 1968 to bridge the legal community and the Civil Rights Movement, we’re known for advancing the rights of people of color, immigrants, refugees and low income individuals. Our grounding in community and direct legal services helps us identify the most pressing civil rights issues and informs the broader impact litigation and policy advocacy we undertake. Not only do we fight oppression and construct more just systems and institutions, we build the movement by investing in legal fellows and supporting a network of over 1,000 active pro bono attorneys who fight alongside us.
Some of our recent victories include: achieving a $5.5M settlement from Caltrans for destroying unhoused people’s belongings and modifications to its statewide procedures for “sweeps” of encampments; winning a preliminary injunction against the U.S. government to release immigrants at risk of COVID from detention and enforce basic detention conditions; and co-sponsoring and helping pass California’s historic Public Banking Act to help close the racial wealth gap.
About the Economic Justice Team
Our Economic Justice Team is working to innovate state and local economic policies, guided by our direct legal work with small businesses in communities of color. Currently, we are:
- Working to create state and local public banks, as part of a public financial system that invests in our communities rather than in Wall Street, and is accountable to Californians.
- Incubating and launching the first contracting cooperative for Black, Brown, and women-owned contractors, designed to create increased power to win government contracts that have traditionally been harder for minority contractors to get.
- Advising land trusts and economic justice nonprofits on entity formation, land use, and other business legal issues, expanding capacity within the movement for fairer financial systems.
All of this work grows out of our core direct legal services. Our Legal Services for Entrepreneurs (LSE) program works to close the racial wealth gap one business at a time, by providing free legal services to low-income entrepreneurs of color. LSE enlists a broad network of over 200 volunteer attorneys to support small business owners and uplift their expertise. We support our clients’ enterprises by helping negotiate commercial leases, establishing entity choice and formation, drafting and reviewing contracts, and advising on employment law and intellectual property.
LSE Staff Attorney Job Description
In coordination with the LSE Program Coordinator, the Staff Attorney takes primary responsibility for the LSE program. The Staff Attorney provides guidance and oversight to the Program Coordinator and other LSE staff in operating the LSE program. In coordination with the Pro Bono Director, the Staff Attorney cultivates partnerships directly with pro bono attorneys and law firms, and trains new pro bono attorneys. The Staff Attorney also provides direct representation to small business clients whose legal needs are generally not met by LSE pro bono attorneys. During the pandemic, the biggest need for direct representation has been commercial lease negotiations, but the scope of possible services is potentially broad, depending on candidate’s interest and client demand. The Staff Attorney is also engaged with community, including providing trainings for small business owners and community partner organizations.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
- Provide direct transactional legal services to low-income and other small businesses, particularly in communities of color. Conduct client intakes, and provide direct legal advice, negotiate leases, communicate with landlords, review contracts, and take on other tasks related to direct legal representation.
- Lead the LSE program, including working with the LSE team to establish overall program direction, strategy, and evaluation, and manage grant contracts and deliverables. Supervise the LSE Program Coordinator and any additional LSE intake staff and students.
- Maintain case, program, and other work files for clients receiving direct legal services, including digital client files, timekeeping records, and other documentation of work performed using office databases and systems.
- With the Director of Pro Bono, cultivate pro bono partnerships in support of the LSE program. Provide training and technical (legal) assistance to pro bono attorneys assisting LSE clients at clinics, workshops, limited scope representation, and long-term representation.
- Cultivate relationships with community partners and government agencies serving small businesses, especially in communities of color. Work with local government agencies and other partners with whom LSE contracts. Practice movement lawyering and provide support to aligned grassroots partners.
- On an as-needed basis, lead or contribute to local and state policy initiatives related to LSE clients under the supervision of the Senior Staff Attorney-Economic Justice. Examples include supporting land trusts, increasing access to capital by establishing a public bank, and displacement prevention and anti-gentrification work.
- Work to further the short- and long-term goals of LCCRSF as requested. This work may include assisting with other legal programs, contributing to organizational systems development, organizational development/fundraising efforts, strategic planning initiatives, communications strategies, and providing other support as identified or assigned by management.
- Work may require some evening and weekend activities.
Overview of Knowledge, Skills & Abilities Required
- A minimum of two years of post-graduate legal experience (this may include up to one year of a post-graduate judicial clerkship).
- California Bar membership.
- Knowledge of and experience with working in transactional law and providing legal services to small businesses.
- Prior experience working with/ties to low-income communities of color and immigrant communities in Northern California.
- Proficiency in a foreign language (particularly Spanish, Cantonese, or Mandarin) is desired but not required.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills.
- Values working cooperatively with others, both within the organization and in the community.
- Strong leadership skills; ability to balance multiple tasks and problem-solve effectively.
$70,000-$75,000 DOE, plus generous benefits including medical, dental and vision, commute benefits, 403b retirement plan with salary match after one year of employment, and paid Bar dues and continuing education. Time off includes 15 days’ vacation plus one floating holiday, 13 paid office holidays, up to 12 sick days/year, and our office is closed between Christmas and New Year’s (remote working if have deadlines.) We value health, wellness and balance.
We are 100% remote through at least March 31, 2021, and will outfit you to work from home as needed. We offer an LCCRSF laptop, support for your home workstation, and reimbursements towards home cell and internet.
Physical and Environmental Factors
LCCRSF complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), and all applicable state and local fair employment practices law. The physical demands and work environment described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with different abilities to perform the essential functions.
- LCCRSF will be remote through at least March 31, 2021. Must be able to participate in on-line virtual communications including email, video conferencing, and other online tools used to facilitate virtual office culture and work sharing.
- Ability to remain in a stationary position to operate a computer (and other office productivity machinery), and manual dexterity to operate a keyboard, for extended periods of time; Employee is regularly required to talk, hear, see, and communicate effectively via computer.
- This role requires frequent sitting.
- Ability to occasionally lift objects weighing up to 10 pounds.
- Some work at off-site locations may be required once we return to in-person work, such as at our legal clinics; LCCRSF aims for accessibility in any off-site location that we have control of, but some of them may not be fully accessible
- Moderate noise when back in the office (e.g., business office with computers, phone, and printers; light traffic);
- Ability to work in a confined area indoors.
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Applicants should submit: 1) a cover letter; 2) a resume; 3) contact information for a minimum of three references; and 4) two writing samples (750 words or less) by email to firstname.lastname@example.org (w/ “ Staff Attorney-LSE” in the subject line).
In your cover letter, please make sure you respond to the following question, or we may choose not to consider your application:
LCCRSF serves highly diverse communities. To ensure that we are best positioned to serve these communities, we strive to promote behaviors, attitudes and policies that help us work effectively in cross-cultural situations with clients, our coworkers, and our communities. We seek to create an inclusive and respectful workplace in which differences are acknowledged and valued. How have your background or experiences, professional or otherwise, prepared you to contribute to our commitment to cultural competency and racial equity? Feel free to think broadly about your response to this question, applying various aspects of your life and personal experiences.
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Position will remain open until filled. Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. People of color, LGBTQ+ candidates, women, persons with disabilities and individuals over 55 are encouraged to apply.