Staff Attorney – Patients’ Rights Unit


Program Description

The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley is seeking a Staff Attorney for Mental Health Advocacy Project’s (MHAP) Patients’ Rights Unit. MHAP’s goal is to empower people identified as having a mental health or developmental disability to live more independent, secure and satisfying lives through the enforcement of their legal rights and the advancement of their social and economic well-being.  MHAP helps clients resolve problems in the areas of mental health and treatment, prisoners’ rights and public benefits.


The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley advances the rights of under-represented individuals and families in our diverse community through legal services, strategic advocacy, and educational outreach.  The Law Foundation advances justice through its comprehensive legal services and advocacy programs.  In addition to Mental Health Advocacy Project, the Law Foundation operates Legal Advocates for Children & Youth, Health Legal Services, Fair Housing Law Project and Public Interest Law Firm.


Now with over 80 employees, the Law Foundation is the largest provider of free legal services in the South Bay.  Located in downtown San Jose, the Law Foundation is a dynamic and interesting place to work.  We pride ourselves on fostering a work environment that is motivating, collaborative and fun, with plenty of opportunities for professional growth.  The Law Foundation believes in providing the highest quality of legal representation to its clients.


Job Description 

MHAP’s Patients’ Rights Unit protects the civil rights of mental health consumers in Santa Clara County through direct client representation, systemic advocacy, training, and education.  The Patients’ Rights Attorney’s responsibilities include: 1) representing patients in locked psychiatric facilities in administrative hearings to challenge involuntary detention for mental health treatment or to preserve a patients’ right to refuse psychiatric medications; 2) investigating and resolving complaints from or concerning recipients of mental health services regarding abuse, neglect, and improper denials of rights; 3) monitoring mental health facilities and services for compliance with statutory and regulatory patients’ rights provisions; and 4) providing technical assistance, training, and outreach regarding the rights of mental health consumers to mental health providers, law enforcement, consumers, and community members.  The attorney may also have opportunities to work on issues involving public benefits and other civil legal needs.


Primary Duties

  • Represent clients in locked psychiatric facilities in detention and capacity hearings;
  • Provide advocacy and representation to people with complaints about mental health services;
  • Monitor and investigate mental health facilities for legal violations, including improper use of seclusion, restraint, and involuntary medication, improper denials of patients’ statutory rights, and failure to comply with due process requirements for involuntary detention;
  • Address system reform needs of MHAP clients through impact projects;
  • Conduct outreach and community education presentations;
  • Respond to requests for technical assistance from non-profits, providers, and family members;
  • Participate in MHAP intake, information and referral services;
  • Attend community meetings and events that concern or impact MHAP clients;
  • Participate in Law Foundation events, committees and operations;
  • Work in collaboration with supervisory and program staff.


Desired Qualifications

  • California Bar Membership, willingness to take California Bar Exam, or otherwise eligible to practice law in California (individuals awaiting California Bar Exam results are eligible to apply);
  • Direct experience with or general knowledge of services and issues affecting individuals living with mental health disabilities desired. Past or current consumers of mental health services are encouraged to apply;
  • Commitment to the rights of individuals living with mental health disabilities;
  • Demonstrated experience working with and/or sensitivity to persons living with mental health or developmental disabilities;
  • Ability to identify, investigate, and resolve client problems;
  • Ability to analyze, write, and present ideas and legal concepts clearly and concisely;
  • Ability to negotiate solutions to problems between service providers and clients;
  • Bilingual in English and Spanish or Vietnamese desired;
  • Commitment and ability to work with underrepresented communities, including people living with mental health disabilities or other disabilities, clients of diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and clients who are currently or formerly involved with the criminal justice system;
  • Candidates of diverse ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, persons living with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community encouraged to apply;
  • Valid California Driver’s License and regular access to a vehicle to travel throughout Santa Clara County required.



$54,888-$87,235; compensation based upon bar admission date and comparable experience.  All compensation determined by the wage table of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between SEIU Local 521 and LFSV.  Excellent benefits provided, including paid holidays, vacation, health insurance and 401(k).


The Law Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action Employer.  We encourage people of color, women, people living with disabilities, older people, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to apply.  It is the policy of the Law Foundation to prohibit discrimination and harassment of any type and to afford equal employment opportunities to employees and applicants, without regard to race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, pregnancy, medical condition or genetic information, veteran status, national origin, disability, marital or other protected status.  The Law Foundation will conform to the spirit, as well as the letter of all applicable laws and regulations.


To Apply:

Send cover letter and resume via email:



Staff Attorney – Patients’ Rights Unit