Remote (within California), Sacramento, Fresno, Oakland, Ontario, Los Angeles, or San Diego (USA) /
Legal Advocacy Unit – Mental Health /
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Individuals who are Deaf or Disabled are encouraged to apply.
Location: Remote (within California Only), Sacramento, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, or Ontario
SALARY RANGE (Depending on Experience): $113,144 - $165,704 annually
We base salary and position offers on experience and an internal equity analysis.
Employment Status: Exempt; Regular; Full time (37.5 hrs)
EXCELLENT BENEFITS including 8% 401k Match, a LRAP (Loan Repayment Assistance Program) that pays up to $300 per month depending on salary and debt and a language a language differential up to $250/mo. Health (HMO and PPO options), dental, vision; basic life insurance; short-term and long-term disability insurance; and flexible spending accounts (medical, dependent care and commuter). Additionally, we offer ample vacation, sick/wellness leave and eighteen paid holidays (including the last week in December) and more….. We are a Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) - eligible employer.
Application Deadline: Open until filled. Applications should be received by January 29, 2023 to be considered for the first round of interview.
WHO WE ARE
Disability Rights California (DRC) defends, advances, and strengthens the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities.
DRC works for a world where all disabled people have power and are treated with dignity and respect. In this world, people with disabilities are supported, valued, included in their communities, afforded the same opportunities as people without disabilities, and make their own decisions.
DRC values all forms of human diversity. We are committed to a culture of belonging where all people are welcome. In order to be effective advocates for all people with disabilities, we must address discrimination in all its forms, including the unique challenges faced by people who experience the intersection of multiple systems of discrimination.
Mental Health Practice Group
We are a statewide team of passionate attorneys and advocates who enforce and expand the civil rights of people living with mental health disabilities. We strive to pursue litigation and advocacy that strikes a balance between responding to pressing needs, proactively anticipating future needs, and identifying innovative ways to affirmatively expand the law on behalf of individuals living with mental health disabilities.
Much of our current work includes advocating on behalf of clients in locked facilities, including psychiatric institutions, jails, juvenile halls, and immigration detention centers, and working to divert or release people from such institutions. We also work to improve access to community-based alternatives to institutions and homelessness, to ensure that such services are provided in a manner that is trauma-informed and culturally affirming, to eliminate law enforcement involvement in crisis responses, and to address the intersectional needs of adults and young people living with mental health disabilities.
In order to enforce and expand the rights of people living with mental health disabilities, the Mental Health Practice Group engages in individual and systemic litigation, investigations and monitoring, and policy advocacy. Our team works collaboratively on lawsuits and projects. We are also adopting community lawyering and identity-conscious approaches to our advocacy in order to ensure that our advocacy seeks out and responds to the voices of people of color with disabilities and members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community with disabilities.
A few of the Mental Health Practice Group’s recent or prospective lawsuits and advocacy strategies include:
· Disability Rights California v. County of Alameda, No. 20-5256 (N.D. Cal. filed July 30, 2020) (Olmstead case seeking greater community-based mental health services to prevent individuals with mental health disabilities from needlessly cycling between psychiatric hospitalization, homelessness, and jail, and highlighting the disproportionate impact on Black Alameda County residents), https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/cases/drc-lawsuit-against-alameda-county;
· Opposition and prospective legal challenges to SB 1338 or “CARE Court” (2022) (multi-faceted, statewide advocacy to oppose, and challenge after enactment, state legislation to create a new system of court-imposed mental health treatment and services using legislative/policy, movement lawyering, and litigation components and in statewide collaboration with many partners).
· Hart, et al. v. Clendenin, et al., No. 20-1559 (C.D. Cal. filed Aug. 5, 2020) (one of the first lawsuits in the country to challenge the dangers posed by COVID-19 to high risk patients in a state psychiatric hospital and to seek the discharge or transfer of patients out of the facility) https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/cases/hart-v-clendenin;
· Mays v. County of Sacramento, No. 18-1259 (E.D. Cal. filed July 31, 2018) (comprehensive class action settlement requiring Sacramento County to remedy unconstitutional and dangerous conditions in its jails, including those related to inadequate medical and mental health treatment, suicide prevention, and solitary confinement), https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/cases/mays-v-county-of-sacramento;
· Disability Rights California v. County of San Benito, No. 19-01833 (N.D.Cal filed April 4, 2019) (comprehensive settlement addressing coercive responses to mental health crisis, expanding access to community-based services, and improving patients’ rights).
PURPOSE OF THE JOB
The Litigation Counsel plays a significant role in shaping DRC’s litigation and advocacy vision, including working with the Mental Health team, the Litigation Counsel Team, and other DRC teams and staff to identify complex legal and policy challenges to create and drive forward our systemic work. The Litigation Counsel also helps to ensure the excellence of DRC’s legal work by providing leadership, mentorship, and supervision to Practice Group attorneys and other DRC staff. The ideal candidate will have an unwavering commitment to excellence, a deep understanding of the intersectional issues faced by our clients, and a commitment to using the law to develop creative strategies toward movement-building goals.
The Litigation Counsel is responsible for developing and implementing a variety of advocacy strategies, and for mentoring and supporting the practice group attorneys. Structurally, the Litigation Counsel reports to a designated Managing Attorney, who provides the general and administrative leadership, strategic direction, and overall management and supervision of the members of the practice group. In practice, the Litigation Counsel and Managing Attorney co-lead the team’s advocacy.
Essential functions are the job responsibilities an employee must be able to perform, with or without reasonable accommodation. Litigation Counsel essential functions include the following:
Litigation and Advocacy Leadership
· Develop legal, policy, and other systems-change advocacy initiatives to address the needs of disabled Californians and their families;
· Identify and address complex legal challenges through investigation, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and strategic planning;
· Lead teams in litigation or major policy advocacy which may include targeted representation, complex litigation and/or appeals, or major policy advocacy at the state level;
· Mentor and train practice group attorneys in litigation and policy advocacy work;
· Support and oversee litigation teams, including facilitation of crossover legal issues and coordination of litigation practice group members;
· Monitor, summarize, and analyze case law, legislation, and administrative policy and practices for staff and other organizations.
· Collaborate with other agencies and organizations to address new or recurring problems faced by our clients.
· Participate as a member of the DRC legal management team to assist in the development and advancement of the Legal Advocacy Unit’s strategic direction;
· Collaborate with other Litigation Counsel to fulfill various administrative and litigation-related responsibilities;
· Identify and develop substantive and skills-based training for staff; and
· Co-review and approve the team’s requests to commence new litigation.
· Develop and sustain relationships with organizations led by people with disabilities and key stakeholders within the disability community;
· Engage in community-based advocacy and coalition building to uplift community-defined solutions; and
· Prepare training materials, publications, reports, or prepare presentations about legal work, which may include reports to funding entities and the Board of Directors.
Litigation Counsel provide leadership, training, mentoring, and direct supervision to Practice Group staff on systemic litigation and advocacy.
Candidates must have a Juris Doctor degree plus nine years of experience practicing law. Internal candidates, if employed at DRC for four continuous years and with eight years of experience practicing law, may also apply.
In addition, the position requires:
· Demonstrated ability to lead complex advocacy projects and litigation, build strong relationships, and work well in collaborative settings;
· Excellent research, writing, analytic, and oral advocacy skills;
· Fearlessness and a deep commitment to zealous client-centered advocacy – demonstrated by lived experience or public interest employment history – through the representation of people with disabilities, lower-income clients, and people of color, and by incorporating race-equity, civil rights, and community/movement lawyering principles into their work;
· Expertise in one or more substantive areas of law related to the practice group (such as Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Section 1983, Equal Protection, Due Process, Eight Amendment, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, state civil rights statutes, etc.);
· Expertise in federal and/or state civil litigation, including class action, appellate practice and/or mandamus writs, and systemic policy advocacy;
· Five years of exemplary results in litigation including settlement, final judgment, etc.;
· Three years of successfully leading, training, mentoring, and developing attorneys and advocates;
· Demonstrated results from mentorship, leadership, and supervision of multiple attorneys or advocates;
· Demonstrated ability to support and develop multiple junior staff in their own advocacy efforts, including litigation, systemic policy advocacy, administrative proceedings, and/or writs;
· Demonstrated ability to collaborate effectively with other lawyers and support staff, and to develop and implement impact strategies; and
· The ability to work independently with appropriate supervision.
LICENSES / CERTIFICATES
Must be a member of the California State Bar or will become a member within one year.
· Litigation or advocacy experience in institutional settings (jails, juvenile halls, immigration detention facilities, psychiatric facilities) for adults or young people with mental health disabilities and/or in community settings through Olmstead and ADA matters;
· Litigation experience in federal district court and/or state court as well as appellate court experience;
· Experience developing impact strategies through community lawyering;
· Experience in the disability rights/disability justice movement;
· Experience with one or more of the following areas: racial justice, homelessness, institutionalization, criminal or juvenile justice, immigrants’ rights, substance abuse, underserved or disadvantaged socioeconomic groups, or Gay/Lesbian/Bi-Sexual/Transgender/Intersex communities;
· Ability to communicate fluently and write effectively in Spanish or other language; or able to communicate using American Sign Language;
· Lived experience as a person with a disability; or
· Family member of a person with a disability.
Ability to travel (when it is safe to do so) occasionally for activities such as out-of-town meetings, trainings, hearings, and client visits/representation activities up to 25% of the time.
High speed internet connection is required to work for us.
No additional language is required.
The competencies below represent the knowledge, skills, behaviors and/or abilities required to be successful at DRC, with or without disability related reasonable accommodations.
Ability to develop and lead systemic investigations and lawsuits. Ability to develop public policy. Ability to represent DRC approved positions through the legislative process. Ability to participate in stakeholder meetings with government officials/offices. Ability to support and empower DRC clients and communities to advocate for systemic change.
Ability to read, analyze, and interpret the most complex legal documents. Ability to write using original or innovative techniques or style. Ability to negotiate to serve the interest of the client or reconcile divergent interest and opinions. Ability to make effective and persuasive presentations on controversial or complex topics to governmental entities, facility leadership, public groups/officials, and/or boards of directors. Ability to respond effectively to the most sensitive inquiries or complaints. Effective communication skills sufficient to represent clients in legal hearings, meetings, negotiations or administrative proceedings, to actively promote legal, policy, and legislative developments at state and local government levels, and to develop and conduct trainings.
Ability to apply principles of logical thinking to a wide range of complex problems. Ability to interpret and synthesize complex or diverse information. Sees relationships between information in varied forms and from varied sources. Is proficient at nuance and proactively seeks multiple options tailored to the specifics of each situation. Ability to conduct research and analysis of pertinent legal authority. Ability to analyze complex problems and develop creative, strategic solutions.
Diversity & Inclusion
Creates an environment of learning about, valuing, encouraging, and supporting differences. Creates opportunities for inclusion in a variety of settings. Strives to eliminate barriers to diversity and inclusion; ensures that new barriers are not built. Promotes the creation of shared mission, vision, and values, and uses those principles to guide actions. Enjoys working in teams and is collaborative with partners from different backgrounds.
Ability to harness, develop, and manage key relationships so stakeholders view DRC with pride and respect. Ability to serve as the main point of contact when issues arise; manage disputes or conflicts in an open, constructive, professional manner; and effectively share ideas in group discussions. Ability to collaborate with others within and outside of DRC to solve problems effectively. Ability to seek and provide unique/different perspectives to and from coworkers and community partners. Ability to manage peoples’ expectations. Exhibits professionalism and maturity. Celebrates workplace successes and achievement.
The following describes general working conditions and requirements of the job, which can be performed with or without disability-related reasonable accommodations:
- Duties are performed between an office or home environment and the field in a wide range of settings, including courthouses, health care facilities or other institutional settings, community agencies, or in community-based outpatient settings.
- Duties frequently require sitting and communicating with others.
- Must be able to transport oneself to work-related meetings, hearings, facilities and settings where clients live.
If you are interested in becoming a part of DRC, please submit the following:
1. Online Disability Rights California Application Form
2. Your resume
3. Cover Letter: We need a workforce that can utilize insights and strategies that can come from both professional and personal experience. In your cover letter, please tell us about yourself and why you are a great fit for this position and for DRC.
4. Sample of legal writing (i.e., a legal argument, letter or analysis) consisting of no more than 10 pages of text.
Incomplete applications will not be considered.
At Disability Rights California, we value diversity among our employees because unique perspectives allow us to effectively serve Californians with disabilities from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. As an equal opportunity employer, we hire without regard to race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, age (over 40), Disability (mental and physical), sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, military and veteran status, or any other protected characteristic.
Disability Rights California endorses and supports the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities who are applicants or employees who need accommodations.