The Public Interest Law Center is seeking applications for an experienced staff attorney to lead its environmental and food justice project. The project uses a community lawyering approach to ensure communities an equitable and meaningful voice in the health, sustainability, and future of the natural and built environment of their neighborhoods. It uses legal and community organizing skills to deal with problems that have economic, public health, environmental and food justice and community development dimensions.

The attorney will be expected to provide legal representation, policy and strategic guidance to community clients; and engage in advocacy, community organizing and coalition-building. The attorney will directly represent clients in legal actions and help clients to connect with other legal and technical expertise needed to achieve their goals. The matters handled by the attorney will include matters that intersect with the Law Center’s housing project.

The attorney will develop new client relationships and to lead and collaborate on new campaigns. The attorney also will assume representation of existing clients and lead existing policy and advocacy initiatives, including ongoing litigation and community representations. The attorney will lead the Law Center’s Garden Justice Legal Initiative, which works toward the preservation and creation of community-managed urban agriculture and open space, as well as environmentally-just community development; equitable vacant land and real estate tax policy; and mitigating impacts of climate change on floodplain and heat-burdened communities.

Primary activities include:

1. Community engagement and education, relationship building in affected communities, and establishing strategic and collaborative partnerships.
2. Provide legal support on transactional work for community organizations.
3. Represent clients before local, state and federal agencies and courts and by advocating on their behalf with government officials.
4. Provide advice, legal counsel, and training to promote self-advocacy.
5. Participate in local, regional and national policy advocacy to advance the interests of communities.
6. Connect individuals and community groups with needed outside resources to achieve strategic objectives.
7. Provide training and oversight for pro bono counsel to equip them to provide client legal service.

The lawyer also will participate in the leadership of the organization including attendance at board and staff meetings, development projects and ongoing administrative projects.
The lawyer reports directly to the Legal Director. The lawyer will work in close collaboration with a community organizer and Law Center lawyers working on housing matters.

Qualifications. The candidate must have at least five years of experience practicing law, which should include demonstrated experience in and/or commitment to the following:

  • general policy advocacy and advocacy on behalf of clients with government officials;
  • environmental and/or food justice work or at a minimum racial justice work generally;
    challenges facing immigrant communities, communities of color, and low-and moderate income families;
  • working in diverse communities and with grassroots organizations;
  • excellent writing, analytic and public speaking skills;
  • skilled interviewing, assessment, problem solving and negotiation; and
  • independence, self-motivation, and successful strong leadership able to drive projects and programs to completion.

Preference will be given to candidates with experience in litigation and in one or more of the following substantives areas of law: real estate, land use, property law or federal and state environmental law. Experience with working in coalition and/or supporting community-based organizing and organizations preferred. Proficiency in a second language also is desirable.

Exceptional candidates with less experience will be considered.

The Public Interest Law Center is a nationally-renowned public interest law firm with a mission of using high-impact legal strategies to improve the well-being and life prospects of the Philadelphia region’s most vulnerable populations by assuring that they have access to the resources and services that all of us need to lead our lives. Areas of focus include a high-quality education, health care, housing and community services, employment, a healthy neighborhood and the unencumbered right to vote.

The position is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The salary and benefits are commensurate with experience.

The Public Interest Law Center is an equal opportunity employer and encourages diverse candidates to apply.

To apply, submit a letter of interest, by mail or email, which describes relevant litigation and supervisory experience, a resume with salary requirements and contact information for at least three references to:

Mary Howard
Public Interest Law Center
United Way Building
1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Full job description at 

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