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13 Sep 2023

Full-Time Deputy Legal Director

ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties – Posted by ewoodfork Anywhere

Job Description

The Opportunity

Reporting to the Advocacy & Legal Director, the Deputy Legal Director will provide leadership and support for the ACLU-SDIC’s litigation program, including developing and litigating high-impact cases. The Deputy Legal Director will be responsible for executing the overall litigation strategy as part of a robust approach to advance the ACLU-SDIC’s mission and oversee the management and coordination of its docket and network of cooperating attorneys. ACLU-SDIC’s integrated advocacy approach centers issues teams, bringing together organizing, advocacy, legal, philanthropic and communications staff to support the organization’s priorities.

The Deputy Legal Director will work with the Advocacy & Legal Director to align litigation activity with the organization’s priority areas of criminal justice, immigrants’ rights, racial and economic justice, as well as other civil rights and liberties issues. The Deputy Legal Director will work in close coordination with national and California ACLU litigation staff, and other local and national partners engaging in an integrated advocacy model to advance organizational goals.

The Deputy Legal Director’s responsibilities include:

Legal Expertise

  • Manage all aspects of the ACLU-SDIC’s litigation program, including working in concert with the Advocacy & Legal Director and issue teams in determining when litigation is appropriate to support desired legislative and policy outcomes and for addressing community concerns.
  • Work with the Advocacy & Legal Director to select cases that support integrated advocacy goals.
  • Maintain an individual caseload of developing and active litigation, including overseeing and directing pre-litigation investigations, discovery, motion practice, brief writing, hearings and trials, appellate work, and amicus briefs.
  • Consistently integrate deep understanding of key racial equity concepts into work projects and interactions by addressing structural implications and disproportionate impacts of policies, activities, and decisions on race, class, and other group identities within the context of job responsibilities and projects.

Staff Management

  • Effectively supervise, manage, and mentor litigation staff to develop and pursue litigation strategies; implementing efficient systems and processes; overseeing the investigation and development of cases before commencing litigation; and building litigation teams with ACLU-SDIC lawyers, cooperating counsel, and nonprofit partners.
  • Supervise litigation by staff attorneys and cooperating attorneys as they engage in complex litigation in Federal and State court, including overseeing all aspects of discovery, motion practice, briefs, trials, appellate work, and amicus briefing.
  • Provide supervision and support for litigation staff, including participation in conducting staff evaluations, supporting the development and implementation of work plans, ensuring continued professional development, participate in the recruitment and hiring for litigation and litigation support positions; ensure onboarding prepares staff on systems and tools such as discovery, time tracking and other programs; and serve as a mentor and coach for a growing and diverse group of staff attorneys and legal support staff.

Communication and External Relations

  • Prepare regular updates, including written as well as oral presentations, about litigation for the public and across the organization including for the staff, Board, donors, and national office as necessary or assigned.
  • Cultivate and deepen relationships with volunteer attorneys and the legal community in San Diego and Imperial Counties (and beyond) to increase legal capacity in the region to address civil rights and civil liberties issues and improve access to the court system, to enhance organizational visibility, and to help build our legal docket.
  • Be an active contributor and participant in the nationwide ACLU legal community in collaborative efforts (where applicable).
  • Engage in public speaking, articulating the ACLU’s views to the media and the public on a broad range of issues

Required Qualifications

  • Demonstrated commitment to civil rights and civil liberties and client-centered advocacy consistent with the mission and goals of ACLU-SDIC.
  • Minimum of 8 years legal experience, including substantial state and/or federal litigation at trial court and appellate levels, including class actions, with a strong background in issue areas aligned with the ACLU-SDIC’s priorities.
  • Demonstrated record of moving legal cases forward from investigation and development to completion (e.g., settlement, trial, and compliance).
  • Demonstrated awareness of one’s own cultural identity, views about differences, and the ability to learn and build on varying cultural and community norms. A complex understanding of racial justice and the urgency of confronting institutional racism and inequity.
  • Management experience that includes training, managing, and retaining a diverse, high-performing litigation team.
  • Admission to the California bar (or licensed in another state and qualified to apply for admission in California within 6 months).

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have most, if not all, of the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

  • Experience working with volunteers and non-profit organizations, including allies from across the political spectrum. Proven track record of working across lines of race, immigration status, ethnicity, language, class, gender and other identities and experiences including record of arrest or conviction.
  • Experience representing and working with activists and grassroots and other non-governmental organizations; experience working with these partners in a border region similar to San Diego a plus.
  • Commitment to equity and inclusion as organizational practice and culture. Excellent at collaborating across disciplines and being open to innovation and cross-departmental planning to achieve organizational priorities.
  • Excellent organizational skills and a creative and strategic approach to problem-solving and litigation including a demonstrated ability to exercise sound professional judgement. Courage and impeccable integrity.
  • Goal-oriented and project-oriented, with an ability to recognize and maximize opportunities on behalf of the organization.
  • Values and has experience working collaboratively and respectfully with teams and coworkers, including toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts.
  • While performing the responsibilities of the job, the employee is required to exchange accurate information, detect/identify documents and the information contained in them, move between areas in and out of the office to complete their role. The employee may need to move various equipment including computer to their work location.
  • Excellent communication, media, presentation, written, and analytical skills.
  • Must be able to travel for court hearings and conferences as needed.

Compensation & Benefits

The salary range for this role is $100,000 – $130,000 annually. The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties offers an excellent benefits package that includes four weeks paid vacation; 18 office holidays; medical and dental insurance for staff members and their families; life and long-term disability insurance; and 401(k) plan with employer match.

The ACLU-SDIC is headquartered in San Diego, California, though employees have hybrid schedules that allow for remote work. While candidates located in or around San Diego are preferred, candidates from outside San Diego will be considered if they are willing and able to travel as needed to the city in the short-term, and able to move to San Diego or surrounding area within 6 months.


Trisha Sutrisno and Amber Gomes of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials by filing out a Talent Profile or email ts*******@ko**********.com and ag****@ko**********.com directly. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


The ACLU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, veterans, and people with arrest records and/or convictions.

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How to Apply

Trisha Sutrisno and Amber Gomes of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials by filing out a Talent Profile at https://diversifiedsearchgroup.com/search/19493-aclu-sdic-deputy-legal-director/.  All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Job Categories: Equal Opportunities. Job Types: Full-Time. Salaries: 100,000 and above.

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