Legal Director

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Sierra Club

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Oakland, CA, United States

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14 days ago

Job Title: Legal Director
Department: Program
Location: Oakland, CA or Washington, D.C. preferred, with openness to other locations. The position requires an ability to travel occasionally.
Reports To: National Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Legal
Supervises: Deputy and up to Four Managing Attorneys and One Operations Manager


Context: At the Sierra Club, we believe in the power of togetherness. Together, we remain committed to the fight for a healthy climate built on a foundation of environmental, racial, economic, and gender justice – a future where all people benefit from a healthy, thriving planet and a direct connection to nature. As the climate crisis and deeply entrenched systemic racism all fuel inequity, we will continue to fight for a bold, transformational agenda that recognizes the interconnectedness between our planet, our humanity, and our democracy. By recognizing that our destinies are tied, we continue to name that all things are fundamentally connected, and the overlap between ecology, race, gender, and representative government will move to either advance our collective humanity or to oppress it.

Sierra Club is comprised of staff across the country and a network of local chapters that support our grassroots engagement. We are also proud to be a unionized employer, with two labor unions representing more than half of our employees.


Scope: This position oversees the Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program, which consists of 49 lawyers and additional other professional staff who advance the goals of the Sierra Club’s national campaigns through litigation and legal tactics. The program’s attorneys devise legal strategies, litigate cases in state and federal court as well as administrative fora, evaluate and manage risks, and oversee internal decision-making processes for litigation, among other tasks. The goal of the Environmental Law Program is to use lawyering to effectively achieve the Sierra Club’s ambitious 2030 goals.

The Legal Director (LD) leads a team charged with navigating the daily demands ranging from litigation management to risk management to campaign collaboration to people management to budget oversight and beyond. They form strong working relationships with litigators, campaign leaders, legal operations and support staff, policy staff, volunteer leaders, and Sierra Club executives. The LD makes decisions collaboratively and effectively while remaining vigilant about managing risk to the organization. The LD establishes the Environmental Law Program as a leader in the field of environmental law nationally, through conferences, publications, and relationships with other legal NGOs. The LD advances the values of equity and justice, with emphasis on anti-racism, within the legal program, the broader Sierra Club, and external partners and communities.


Job activities include but are not limited to:

  • Campaign Planning and Leadership: Campaign Planning and Leadership: Convenes and supports an effective Leadership Team ensuring ELP senior leaders have input to help shape major decisions and develop strategy.
  • Fundraising: Raise money through direct mail, major donors, and foundations; draft grant proposals; collaborate with campaign leaders on fundraising and Advancement department; prepare reports for donors; communicate with donors; travel and attend donor events; compile statistics and fact sheets for donors.
  • Lawyering: Troubleshoot difficult cases; Article III standing issues; settlement strategies; guide case investigations and development; brief reviews and moot courts; topical team meetings (e.g. Appeals Team).
  • People Management: Support and oversee: ELP management team; ELP individual and team meetings; work plans; 360 reviews and performance evaluations; discipline issues; relationship troubleshooting.
  • Policy Work: Direct judicial and cabinet nomination processes; miscellaneous legislative analysis; agency and Hill meetings; ELP-DC coordination calls; federal campaign strategy team calls.
  • Program Administration: Accountable for budget processes that promote financial sustainability and shared understanding; support ELP trainings, retreats, NGO boot camps, large conference organizing, and regular staff meetings; oversee publicity avenues such as newsletters, case statements, websites, donor blasts, blogs, reporter interviews, speeches, and articles.
  • Risk Management: Oversee defense and communications relating to all claims brought against the Sierra Club (fee claims, Rule 11 motions, cost awards); interface with Chief Legal Officer/General Counsel office on insurance and miscellaneous issues; conduct risk management on problem cases on intake and for ongoing problems; review and edit retainers and contracts; ensure compliance with c3-c4 distinctions; oversee bar compliance (conflict waivers, etc.); oversee litigation hold and discovery procedures.
  • Support of Litigation Coordination Program (LCP): Review new matter forms; oversee outside counsel management; help support Litigation Committee.

The successful candidate must have the following skills and experience:

  • Exemplary experience as an executive in a government or NGO legal division or law firm, with substantial experience developing legal strategy, leading large teams, and managing a large/complex docket and budget.
  • Demonstrated national leadership in the field of environmental law, including extensive litigation experience applying legal strategies in concert with campaign and organizing models, such as grassroots power and movement building.
  • Demonstrated ability to design and implement strategies that operate at the intersections of the environment and marginalized communities. Experience cultivating and maintaining just and accountable partnerships, especially with organizations led by those most impacted by the crises we seek to remedy.
  • A doctor of jurisprudence (JD) degree from an accredited law school and state bar membership. Demonstrated knowledge of environmental issues and legal and public policy processes, and an understanding of privilege and how race, gender, and class intersect with environmental work.
  • Movement Building with Equity. You model effective equity analysis and practice, have a track record of operationalizing and leading on equity, and have developed and/or led organizational and/or movement level equity and justice change strategies.

The strongest candidates will also bring the following characteristics and/or experience:

  • Demonstrated experience in significant change management processes that require building buy-in and leading across a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Experience working in a fast-paced environment, across geographies, and with different types of volunteer and staff structures, exercising effective judgment in challenging situations and remaining calm under pressure.
  • Have a working knowledge of risk management associated with a large litigation practice.
  • A positive energy and good humor that engenders enthusiasm and collaboration.
  • Personal commitment to learning and growth, especially around equity. Skillful at managing individuals and leading teams with a diversity of identities and skill sets to contribute at their highest level. Proficient at proactively surfacing and navigating conflict in a generative, equitable way.
  • An emotionally intelligent, values- and results-driven leader who can inspire staff and volunteers at all levels, collaborate within and across departments, and provide feedback and coaching to support the achievement of our complex goals.
  • Highly skilled written and verbal communicator, both individually and in large audiences or public communications.
  • Proven fundraising and donor stewardship skills.
  • Ability to build and maintain trust with leaders across the organization, while cultivating reciprocal and trusting relationships with staff and volunteers in their teams.

Compensation & Benefits

The salary for this position is $256,015.

The Sierra Club offers a competitive salary package commensurate with skills and experience plus excellent benefits that include medical, dental, and vision coverage, and a retirement savings 401(k) plan.

This is a category 2 exempt, non-represented, supervisory position.

Sierra Club is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization. Sierra Club employees are not eligible to participate in the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

Sierra Club values the expertise and talents of foreign nationals. Sierra Club sponsors both nonimmigrant and immigrant visas when certain criteria are met, based on immigration laws and organizational needs. Such sponsorship is at the discretion of the Department Head and Sierra Club Human Resources in consultation with the employee’s manager. The Sierra Club cannot guarantee the approval of a visa petition. The Sierra Club is an equal opportunity employer committed to workforce diversity.


To Apply

Please remove your schools from your resume. You may leave your degree (e.g., "B.A. Philosophy"), but please remove any undergraduate and graduate school names.

This anonymous process is aimed at opening this opportunity to more candidates, reviewing applicants on performance assessments and mitigating bias in the decision-making process.

Lastly, we are intentionally not asking for a cover letter, so please do not send one in with your application.

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