About The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
The ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) civil liberties and civil rights organization working to advance equality, freedom and justice through public education and litigation. Together with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, the 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that does its legislative lobbying work, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties is a prominent force for the protection and expansion of fundamental rights in California’s second-most populous county (San Diego) and the county with the highest per capita Latina/o population (Imperial).
With affiliate offices in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, the ACLU fights tirelessly in courts, in legislatures, and in communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the United States Constitution and U.S. laws to everyone in this country. The work of the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties and ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties (known collectively as ACLU-SDIC) encompasses the length of California’s border with Mexico. It collaborates with the National ACLU and with ACLU affiliates in California, on the U.S-Mexico border and throughout the United States. The ACLU-SDIC strives to partner with community organizations and groups across the state and throughout the binational border region.
The ACLU-SDIC is an integrated advocacy organization that operationalizes its theory of change and prioritizes racial and economic justice, liberation, and abolition. The ACLU-SDIC is building on the affiliate’s proven track record of success combining impact litigation, lobbying, legal/policy analysis and research, field organizing, donor mobilization, strategic communications, and non-partisan voter engagement to achieve meaningful, lasting social change across the region.
The ACLU-SDIC is dedicated to confronting issues that threaten the most cherished civil rights and freedoms and defending the progress the ACLU has made over its 100-year history. And it is dedicated to working in relationship with people directly impacted by inequity to create a more just and fair society for us all.
For more information on the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, please visit its website.
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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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).
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 $115,000 - $130,000 annually. The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties offers an excellent benefits package that includes four weeks paid vacation; a generous sabbatical policy for staff;18 office holidays; a fully paid medical and dental insurance option for staff members with additional coverage for 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.
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 email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email NonprofitSearchOps@divsearch.com. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.