The Justice & Accountability Center of Louisiana (JAC) seeks a full-time Legal Director to lead our legal team and work with and for people with criminal records to mitigate, modify, and eliminate the collateral consequences of the criminal legal system.
The Justice & Accountability Center of Louisiana eliminates obstacles to opportunity for people harmed by the systemic racism and economic impacts of the criminal legal system through legal services, public education, and policy advocacy. We envision a world without barriers or limits for people with criminal records and their families where we all have a fair chance to thrive. We are a ten-year-old, small, statewide non-profit that relies on pro bono attorneys, contract attorneys, law students, and volunteers, in addition to our staff, to accomplish our mission.
We launch new programs and identify new clients primarily through legal clinics, as well as through cooperating with court administrators to bundle and fast track cases, like our ReEntry Docket Program where we just reached the $1M mark of court debt eliminated in Orleans Municipal Court. Much of our work is done through collaborative models with government entities and non-profit partners, whether we are providing legal services or engaging in advocacy work. JAC facilitates several statewide coalitions including the Louisiana Stop Solitary Coalition and three different policy coalitions focusing on driver’s license suspensions, expungements, and criminal fines & fees. These coalitions have changed the law on solitary confinement for the first time in 150 years in Louisiana, as well as advanced expungement law changes that have expanded eligibility to thousands of people with criminal records in our state.
JAC invites our clients to join us in policy reform work and creates opportunities for impacted people to lead change. We go the extra mile to ensure our clients voices are heard in the courtroom and the hearing room. We seek to provide holistic legal services that meets people where they are, prioritizes what is important to them, and advances their goals for how, when, and whether they want to participate in systemic reform. We are often at the forefront of testing and implementing new laws and programs, or extending the impact of laws to the lives and experiences of people with criminal records.
The Legal Director will develop, build, and lead JAC’s federal and state plaintiff litigation practice and oversee the staff and attorney contractors in our child support, driver’s license, traffic, and municipal defense programs. S/he will also amplify a pipeline for representation in occupational licensing matters, both representing clients and supervising staff in their client representation. S/he will manage JAC’s clinics that address the legal needs of people re-entering our communities after incarceration and support statewide and local advocacy campaigns, both proactive and defensive. S/he will also build relationships with myriad non-profit, government, foundation partners, and volunteers. This is a new position so we are seeking a self-motivated, creative, organized, and energetic individual to fill the role. We believe a variety of attorneys could succeed in this role, so the percentages of time dedicated to each of the job function areas below could be modified based on experience.
Primary Job Functions
Legal Representation, Supervision, & Education (60%):
- Supervise and mentor JAC’s Senior Staff Attorney and new Staff Attorney to build and expand both their skills and JAC’s practice areas, which primarily currently include expungement, traffic/municipal defense, child support, driver’s license reinstatement, and TWIC appeals and waivers;
- Develop and amplify JAC’s new FCRA (both consumer credit and background check), Fair Chance Hiring Act, SBA loan, and occupational licensing practice areas, including guiding the development of educational materials to inform the community of their rights, creating/modifying intake forms, screening clients, initiating litigation, maintaining a caseload, and partnering with staff to litigate;
- Manage, staff, supervise, and oversee our ReEntry Legal and Expungement clinics and ReEntry Docket programs;
- Supervise contract attorneys and non-attorney workers to ensure they are adhering to agreed-upon referral processes in a timely and ethical manner;
- Identify the need for new clinics, like a potential criminal conviction fees clinic, and design and implement the vision for new clinics and integration of new practice areas into existing clinics, collaborating with nonprofit partners and government agencies; and
- Identify opportunities for community education and work with staff, volunteers, and partners to develop manuals, videos, forms, and web-based applications to assist impacted people with navigating barriers and obtaining solutions to problems, including rolling out a campaign to amplify JAC’s expungement app and new FCRA dispute letter app (assist with final development).
Policy Advocacy (15%):
- Engage with JAC’s policy campaigns (expungement, driver’s and occupational license, and solitary confinement) to ensure interested clients and clinic participants are integrated into advocacy work;
- With the Louisiana Stop Solitary Coalition, lead a collaborative inter-agency process to ethically and legally correspond with currently incarcerated people experiencing solitary confinement to support organizing goals;
- Write, submit, and litigate public records requests to support policy campaigns;
- Research statutory and case law relevant to policy campaigns, write related reports and other communications documents, and assist with legislative drafting, tracking, and amending; and
- Identify systemic issues arising from clinics and programs, connect them to larger policy and legal solutions, and develop and implement strategic plans of action.
Administrative & Program Management (25%):
- Lead internal staff coordination for all legal programs including setting program goals in collaboration with staff and contractors, developing agendas for meetings, planning/facilitating meetings, following up on action steps, determining whether additional planning time is required to achieve program goals, and calendaring/adhering to associated deadlines;
- Monitor the implementation of Justice Reinvestment Act (JRI) legislation and funding, for which JAC is a sub-grantee, including coordinating with data management systems of partner agencies, ethically communicating outcomes both orally and through written reports, and participating in local/parish and statewide JRI meetings;
- Oversee contract compliance in fee-for-service legal programs;
- Identify, recruit, train, and supervise pro bono attorneys, law students, and other legal workers to staff JAC clinics and programs;
- Maintain volunteer history in our CRM system, manage pro bono CLE credits from service, create and present CLEs, and seek opportunities to award, recognize, and thank JAC volunteers;
- Gather, organize, and analyze JAC program data for sharing with partners, the public, volunteers, donors, and foundations as ethically permitted under law, including overseeing JAC’s internal case management system;
- Draft, edit, and submit legal program grant reports, working with staff to gather necessary information;
- Assist with legal program grant identification and writing;
- Work closely with other JAC staff to ensure complete communication and collaborative interaction of each other’s skills, ideas, and strategies; and
- Coordinate and communicate effectively with our partners to ensure true collaboration.
Education & Experience
- 5+ years of plaintiff-side litigation experience, preferably within FCRA, FLSA, and/or Title VII or similar federal or state statutes, is required;
- Experience supervising staff attorneys, volunteers, students, and/or pro bono attorneys is required;
- 5+ years of program management at a non-profit or government agency as a central job duty is strongly preferred;
- Experience in providing or managing the provision legal services to people of limited income, whether criminal or civil, is preferred; and
- Louisiana bar license is strongly preferred, however a current license from an outside jurisdiction can be considered with intent to sit for the summer 2022 Louisiana bar exam.
Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities
- Flexible, organized, innovative, and creative;
- Proven collaboration and coordination skills;
- History of employing extreme accuracy and attention to detail in all work;
- Administrative and facilitation skills;
- Self-directed, with an ability to independently identify next steps and follow through on them without too much need for prompting;
- Ability to evaluate progress and pivot toward successful outcomes as needed;
- Commitment to racial equity, social justice, and decarceration;
- Ability to communicate effectively with courts, attorneys, clients, donors, media, government agencies, and the general public;
- Analytical skills including the ability to see the system and the infrastructure while also realizing the tasks and activities required to reach larger goals; and
- Ability to respond quickly to the changing needs of a developing organization working on multiple pilot projects and implementation of new laws.