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Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer

$170,000 - 233,000/ year
Posted Nov 20
Full Time
On Site
Los Angeles, California






Open until filled.


The Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer will oversee the design, management, and implementation of the Advocacy Department’s strategic program of community engagement, organizing, litigation, legislation, and policy advocacy to defend and expand civil liberties and civil rights. The position could be based in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino, or Kern.  The Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer reports directly to the Executive Director and is a member of the ACLU SoCal’s Senior Leadership Team.

The Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer is ultimately responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Advocacy Department’s work, including its litigation, policy research and advocacy, issue-based community education and organizing, and its regional power building and volunteer engagement organizing. Tasks include setting the overall vision for the Advocacy Department, recommending/making resource allocation decisions, and ensuring maximal collaboration, integrated advocacy, and maximizing intersectionality. The Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer is also responsible for the overall supervision, effectiveness, culture-setting, collaboration, transparency, and professionalism of all department staff. This involves the oversight of all systems needed to ensure that staff are well supported (i.e., trained, supervised, and mentored), properly assigned work to maximize their productivity, and given optimal access to available resources. 

This position will directly supervise the Project Directors by ensuring that the Project Directors develop a substantive vision for their Project’s work, and that the vision is reflected in the design and implementation of the Project’s work plans. The Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer will also directly supervise the Deputy Directors and Senior Counsels, and work with the Deputies and Senior Counsels to ensure the smooth functioning of the Advocacy Department’s systems and adherence to its policies and procedures.

The Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer will oversee the recruitment and hiring of all department staff and work with the relevant Deputies and Project Directors to hire new personnel.

The Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer will promote the ACLU of Southern California’s advocacy work and serve as a spokesperson for the organization on matters of public interest, along with the Executive Director and relevant subject matter experts within the Advocacy Department.

The Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer will sit on the organization’s Senior Management team and inform all aspects of the organization’s policies and operations, and will ensure the Advocacy Department’s needs and perspectives are reflected in that space.

The Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer will play a leadership role in the ACLU in California collaboration and statewide program strategy. That includes being a member of the Statewide Program Leads Work Group; co-supervising statewide issue team lead’s work; helping lead program strategy, collaborating and problem solving with the other California ACLU entities; and helping lead annual and periodic strategic planning and bill planning. This role participates as a member of the California Leadership Team.

It is expected that this position will require a full time-commitment, although the Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer would likely benefit from carrying a small load of substantive advocacy work in addition to their tasks.


Full-Time, Exempt

The ACLU SoCal will hire the Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer to an initial term of four years, with the possibility of reappointment to a second term of up to four years.

 This position is unrepresented and not a member of the National Organization of Legal Services Workers Union.



  • Present Advocacy Department work at public events and board meetings and with donors.
  • Work with Project Directors to develop and implement the Advocacy Department’s strategic goals and operating plans.
  • In conjunction with Deputies and Project Directors, serve as a thought partner with Advocacy Department staff to develop work across all issue advocacy strategies, including litigation, policy advocacy, and issue-specific organizing campaigns, as well as power building and volunteer engagement strategies.
  • Participate in Senior Leads meetings, serving as an active member of senior organizational management.
  • Supervise all aspects of Project Directors’ work. When necessary (e.g., due to leave of absence), provide supervision in lieu of Project Directors.
  • Supervise all aspects of Deputies’ work.
  • Implement alterations to the Advocacy Department’s structure, as needed.
  • Be an active member of the Statewide Program Leads Work Group that coordinates statewide program and strategy, as well as the California Leadership Team.
  • Co-supervise statewide issue team leads with other members of the Statewide Program Leads Work Group.

Coordination; Facilitation of Communication; Strategic Planning

  • Own internal department and cross-department planning processes and ensure maximal collaboration and accountability with all departments in that process.
  • Help develop and ensure effective implementation of cross-team and cross-department plans as well as statewide issue team plans.
  • Own regular meetings with the Advocacy Department, Project Directors, and Cross-Department meetings.
  • Initiate and own meetings as needed to enhance intersectional visioning, planning, problem-solving, or conflict resolution amongst SoCal or statewide teams.
  • Facilitate communication across the Advocacy Department and between Advocacy Department personnel and other staff from other departments and across all geographic locations to ensure the coordination of all integrated advocacy; ensure staff have adequate understanding of how advocacy work intersects across different projects and departments.
  • Facilitate communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution across and between California affiliates and ACLU California Action for maximal program impact.
  • Facilitate and support communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution with ACLU National, and participate in ACLU National leadership cohorts such as the Legal Director cohort and Advocacy Director cohort.

Resource Allocation, Decision-making

  • Make decisions about high resource campaigns in the Department.
  • Make recommendations to the Executive Director on resource allocation decisions (including creation of new positions) within the Advocacy Department; ensure adequacy of mechanisms to obtain Advocacy Department staff input on such decisions.
  • Work with the Executive Director to exercise ultimate decision-making authority on hiring within the Advocacy Department.
  • Work with the CFAO to develop the Advocacy Department’s budget and with Project Directors to develop each project budget; with the Executive Director to exercise ultimate decision-making authority as to construction of Advocacy Department budget and post-budget approval of major expenses (where no alteration of budget required); with the relevant Deputy Director on ultimate decision-making authority as to sponsorship of fellowship applicants.

Litigation-related Oversight

  • Review and approve all settlements involving potential fee and cost recovery, as well as other significant settlements.
  • Work with the Deputy Litigation Director and the Pro Bono Director to build relationships with and recruit potential cooperating co-counsel.
  • Work with the Deputy Litigation Director to ensure appropriateness of standard co-counsel and retainer agreements; approve any material deviations from those agreements.
  • Participate in review and authorization of emergency requests for litigation approval (where there is not sufficient time to consult with all senior staff attorneys and external litigation committee).
  • If the Chief Legal and Advocacy Officer is not a litigator, they will work closely with the Deputy Director for Litigation and Senior Counsel(s) in overseeing litigation.


  • Understanding and Applying Racial Equity
    • Demonstrate commitment to building or deepening understand of racial equity:
      • Core terms and concepts such as structural racism, white privilege, and anti-
      • The role that racial inequity has played and continues to play in our
      • How race impacts supervisory relationships, team dynamics, and organizational culture.
      • Personal/implicit/unconscious
    • Working for Racial Equity
      • Consistently assess structural implications and racially disproportionate impacts of policies, activities, and decisions within the context of their job responsibilities.

race/ethnicity, intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, identity, and/or sexual orientation.

  • Consistently adhere to organization’s racial equity policies and procedures, including those that relate to hiring, retention, and promotion.
  • Consistently identify and disrupt ways in which bias plays out in work and/or
  • Leading on Racial Equity
    • Effectively encourage people to have honest conversations about racial equity, and accept feedback openly, non-defensively, and from a posture of learning.
    • Consistently address structural implications and racially disproportionate impacts of policies, activities, and decisions by identifying and implementing changes that can produce more equitable outcomes. This applies not only in terms of race/ethnicity, but also at the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation.
    • Consistently set racial equity outcomes, goals, and performance measures for team, department, or organization, and develop and successfully implement plans to achieve them.


  • Minimum 12 years relevant experience required which includes at least 5 years of management experience.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Ability to balance and carry out large number of responsibilities.
  • Excellent writing, analytical, and speaking skills.
  • Experience working as part of complex litigation or policy advocacy projects strongly preferred.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with others and be a team player.


The salary range for this position is $170,000 - $233,000. The organization plans to hire near the median of the salary range. Benefits include medical, dental, vision insurance for staff members and their eligible dependents; life, long-term disability, and short-term disability insurance; 401(k) plan with employer match; ample vacation and sick pay with 22 paid holidays.