Legal Director, Health Justice & Public Benefits Program
About the Legal Aid Justice Center:
The Legal Aid Justice Center is a nationally recognized, non-profit organization that partners with low-income clients and communities of color in Virginia to fight for racial, social, and economic justice. We understand that the harms our clients endure are inextricably linked to overarching systems of injustice. Together we are dismantling those systems through a combination of community organizing, litigation, policy advocacy, public relations, and individual legal services.
Founded in 1967, LAJC has offices in Charlottesville, Richmond, Petersburg, and Falls Church and provides services under six key program areas: Civil Rights & Racial Justice (focuses on the criminal legal system), Housing & Consumer Justice, Youth Justice, Health Justice & Public Benefits, Immigrant Justice, and Worker Justice. As examples of LAJC’s recent work, our lawsuit and organizing against the state forced reform of Virginia’s unemployment insurance system, including advocacy that resulted in the distribution of over $1 billion in illegally withheld payments to over 160,000 Virginians. During the pandemic, we demanded and secured a statewide eviction moratorium and emergency pandemic protections that helped hundreds of families avoid eviction. We reduced incarceration across the state, including reducing the population of a local immigration detention center down to historically low levels through a coordinated effort of organizing paired with impact and individual litigation. Our staff are on the front lines of some of the most important anti-poverty fights happening today.
With a staff of over 90, the past few years have been a time of exciting growth and opportunity for the organization. In addition to the growth of programmatic efforts including increased organizing capacity, LAJC has expanded its operations and administrative capacity, created new opportunities for professional growth and leadership among staff, engaged in ongoing race equity work, and explored changes to organizational structure to deepen its efforts to create long-term, sustainable, community-driven change.
LAJC’s latest strategic plan is available at https://www.justice4all.org/lajc-strategic-plan-2022-2026/#area%20d.
For more information about LAJC’s work and programs, visit www.justice4all.org.
About the Health Justice & Public Benefits Program:
Formerly a part of LAJC’s Economic Justice Program (EJP), the new Health Justice and Public Benefits Program will continue its work of tackling health inequity, access to essential public benefits such as unemployment, food stamps and social security income. We partner with directly-impacted communities to achieve racial justice, social justice, and economic justice for all by dismantling systems that create and perpetuate poverty.
The Health Justice and Public Benefits Program consists of a team of navigators and attorneys who work to expand healthcare coverage, and challenge the systems that keep people from healthy, thriving lives. Recent wins include obtaining over one billion dollars in unemployment benefits for Virginians through a lawsuit against the Virginia Employment Commission during the pandemic; class-wide reforms to hearing processes for Medicaid appeals and access to home healthcare; and building out two Medical Legal Partnerships across two regions. Our Affordable Care Act navigators provide advocacy and guidance for healthcare enrollment both during open enrollment as well as throughout the year. We also have a robust practice of Social Security, SNAP, and Medicaid appeals.
About the Position:
Legal Aid Justice Center seeks a strategic, collaborative legal advocate to lead a creative and passionate team of attorneys and organizers as Legal Director, Health Justice & Public Benefits. The Legal Director serves as a member of the senior management team, and in addition to setting strategy and leading program for the Health Justice and Public Benefits team, supports ongoing strategy and development across the organization. Currently reporting to the Deputy Director for Advocacy, the Legal Director provides strategic vision for and guidance over the program’s direct services and advocacy campaigns, and supervises and mentors attorneys on legal strategy and litigation efforts. Together with the Director of Organizing, the Legal Director supports the organizers on the team.
The Legal Director will have the opportunity to lead in the following areas:
- In collaboration with the team, set a vision and priorities for the Health Justice & Public Benefits team’s work and devise strategic advocacy campaigns using the variety of tools employed by LAJC’s programs, including impact litigation and individual representation, organizing, policy advocacy, and community education and technical assistance.
- Support the team in translating vision and strategy into tactical plans and decisions, including annual planning and identifying priorities for both individual representation and campaign work.
- Mentor and directly supervise staff, including attorneys, organizers (in partnership with the Director of Organizing), navigators, interns/fellows and volunteers.
- Build relationships with directly impacted community members, members of the bench and bar, agency heads and elected officials.
- Provide support to LAJC’s fundraising team in their efforts to resource the team’s work.
- Work in coalition and partnership with other legal, non-profit and community-based advocacy organizations.
- Serve as a member of LAJC’s management team, which advises senior leadership in setting organizational priorities for all programmatic work and providing stewardship of organizational resources.
- Oversee supervision and instruction of clinic students, with support from other LAJC staff.
- Minimum 5 years’ membership in any state bar; if not admitted in Virginia, must be eligible to waive in or to sit for the Virginia Bar. (Note, the Virginia Supreme Court will be considering a rule change that would make it easier for legal aid employees licensed in other states to waive into the Virginia Bar.)
- Prior management or supervisory experience (in official capacity as supervisor or substantially similar work without official title)
- Mission-aligned experience (work or lived) partnering with and advocating in low-wealth communities and communities of color
- Sincere and demonstrated commitment to racial equity, inclusion, and justice
- Familiarity with health and public benefits issues (from work or lived experience)
- Ability to work and communicate effectively across lines of identity and difference
- Ability to work effectively both independently and collaboratively
- Willingness to work a flexible schedule that may include evening and weekend events, as well as occasional travel across the state
- Systemic litigation experience
- Experience with impact advocacy, through either litigation or policy
- Experience supporting the development and execution of campaigns and/or community or movement lawyering, grassroots organizing, and coalition building
- Familiarity with organizing
- Experience or familiarity collaborating with community organizers
- Persuasive oral advocacy, research and writing skills
- Prior advocacy experience (work or lived) using an explicit race equity lens
A Note to Potential Candidates: Studies have shown that women, trans, non-binary folks, and BIPOC are less likely to apply for jobs unless they believe they meet every single one of the qualifications as described in a job description. We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive organization, and strongly encourage you to apply, even if you don't believe you meet every one of the qualifications described.