Senior Attorney - Public Policy Focus

Remote (within California), Sacramento, Fresno, Oakland, Ontario, Los Angeles, or San Diego (USA) /
Legal Advocacy Unit – Mental Health /
/ Remote
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Make a difference! We stand for the rights of people that have disabilities....JOIN US!
Individuals who are Deaf or Disabled are encouraged to apply.

Location: Remote (within California) or Sacramento, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, or Ontario
SALARY RANGE (Depending on Experience): $89,434.80- $130,958.10 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, 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 interviews.

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 a mental health peer advocate who enforce and expand the 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 discharge 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, 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, movement 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 significant portion of this position’s time will be dedicated to policy and legislative advocacy aimed at protecting and advancing the rights of people with mental health disabilities. Recent examples of the Mental Health Practice Group’s work in these areas include:

- Together with DRC’s legislative staff, analyzing and developing positions on more than fifty mental health bills introduced in the California legislature in 2022. Drafting position letters, coordinating with community partners, meeting with legislative committee staff, and testifying in support of and in opposition to bills.

- Testifying as subject matter experts on community-based behavioral health services at hearings convened by state Senate and Assembly budget subcommittees and the Committee on the Revision of the Penal Code.

 - Working in coalition with partner organizations to engage in budget and policy advocacy to broaden access to mental health diversion, particularly for people found or likely to be found incompetent to stand trial on felony charges. To this end, MHPG staff participated in the Incompetent to Stand Trial Solutions Workgroup convened by the California Department of Health and Human Services in 2021.

- Opposition to SB 1338 or “CARE Court” (2022) (multi-faceted, statewide advocacy opposing legislation proposed by Governor Newsom to create a new system of court-imposed mental health treatment and services, with legislative/policy, movement lawyering, and litigation components and in collaboration with an array of internal and external partners).

- Filing briefs of amicus curiae in cases that address important issues related to MHPG’s advocacy priorities.
The Senior Attorney in the Mental Health Practice Group plays a leading role in individual and systemic advocacy to protect and expand the rights of people with mental health disabilities.  
The Senior Attorney’s core responsibilities will be to:
- Develop, lead, and/or participate in policy and legislative advocacy at the state level, including commenting on and drafting legislation and regulations, testifying at committee hearings, and participating in stakeholder workgroups or committees.
- Collaborate with DRC’s public policy unit as well as other units throughout DRC (such as those involved in other legal areas, those involved in community outreach, those involved in investigations, and the Executive Director) to help develop and implement a unified mental health policy strategy.

- Collaborate with community members, grassroots organizations, other agencies and nonprofit organizations to address new or recurring problems and issues in the provision of services to clients.

- Prepare or coordinate training materials, publications, reports, or special projects, or make presentations about legal work as necessary.

- Provide technical assistance and substantive training to other Disability Rights California staff in areas of expertise, and participate in the identification and development of substantive and skills-based training for staff, with a primary focus on staff in the regional office.
- Develop, lead, and/or participate in litigation—including targeted representation, class action lawsuits, complex litigation, and/or appeals—that is responsive to the urgent needs of individuals with mental disabilities.

- Supervise and/or mentor the work of attorneys, fellows, and/or interns, as assigned.

- Participate in other duties as assigned.

The Senior Attorney works under the direct supervision of the Mental Health Practice Group leadership and in collaboration with other Disability Rights California attorneys and advocates in their legal, advocacy, and outreach efforts.

We value lived experience and experience working with people with disabilities and who are low income.  We also value experience integrating disability justice, race equity, and community lawyering principles into advocacy efforts.  Please discuss such experiences in your cover letter, especially if they are not reflected in your resume.

May directly supervise one or more subordinate attorneys or advocacy staff in the department and carry out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the agency's policies and applicable laws.  Supervisors interview, hire, and train employees; plan, assign, and direct work; regularly evaluate performance and provide ongoing feedback; work with HR to take correction actions when needed; address complaints and resolve problems.
- Juris Doctor degree (JD) plus seven (7) years of experience practicing law or internal candidates who have worked at DRC for two continuous years and have six years of experience practicing law.
- Excellent advocacy skills (such as research, writing, analytic, oral).
- Knowledge of laws, rights, and services as they pertain to people with mental health disabilities, and/or direct representation of people with mental health disabilities.
- Experience in two or more of systemic policy advocacy, administrative proceedings, community organizing, discovery, motion practice, class action litigation, trial advocacy, or appellate practice related to the position.
- Demonstrated ability to lead multiple and complex advocacy projects, build and maintain strong relationships with diverse groups of people, and work well in collaboration with others.
- Demonstrated commitment – through lived experience and/or employment history – to working with people with disabilities and low-income clients, and incorporating race equity and community lawyering principles into their work.
- Four (4) years of successful results in advocacy, such as intake/outreach projects, administrative proceedings, writs, eviction defense, or single client / single defendant lawsuits.
- Demonstrated ability to work independently with appropriate supervision.

Licenses / Certificates
Must be a member of the California State Bar, or eligible to practice under the Registered Legal Services Attorney Program.
- Experience with the California legislative process and/or advocacy to California state agencies and departments.
- Experience working with and/or sensitivity to persons with disabilities and/or experience working with and/or sensitivity to persons from multi-ethnic communities.
- Able to communicate fluently and write effectively in Spanish or an Asian language; or able to communicate using American Sign Language.
- Experience with and/or extensive contacts in ethnic or language distinct communities.
- Life experience as a person with a disability OR direct experience as a caregiver of a family member with a disability.
Ability to travel (when it is safe to do so) occasionally for activities such as out-of-town meetings, training, or outreach activities up to 25% of the time.
High speed internet connection is required to work for us.
The competencies below represent the knowledge, skills, behaviors and/or abilities required to be successful at DRC, with or without disability-related reasonable accommodations.

1.      Advocacy
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 develop and lead and/or support systemic litigation cases.  

2.      Communication
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 actively promote legal, policy, and legislative developments at state and local government levels, to represent clients in administrative proceedings and/or legal hearings, meetings, or negotiations, and to develop and conduct trainings.
3.      Critical Thinking
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.
4.      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.
5.      Relationship Building
Ability to collaborate with others within and outside of DRC to solve problems effectively.  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 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.