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Litigation Attorney

Center for Science in the Public Interest
Posted May 11
Full Time
Washington, District of Columbia

Description

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Your Food and Health Watchdog, is one of the nation’s leading public health advocacy organizations with a more than 50-year record of fighting for science in the public interest and working to improve the food, dietary supplement, and medical device environment for all. National policy successes include the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act; Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act; Food Safety Modernization Act; and Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. More recently, CSPI has also been involved in broader public health advocacy on issues such as scientific integrity, alcohol policy, agency transparency, and the regulation of selected medical products.

Often, working with private and public interest lawyers across the country, CSPI’s Litigation Department files cases and negotiates with companies to seek better food, dietary supplement, and medical device labeling, more honest marketing, and reforms that benefit consumers. Most of the cases we file are class-action cases or lawsuits under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Our class-action cases seek to prevent misleading and deceptive labeling of food, dietary supplements, and certain medical devices. An important victory the Litigation Department achieved was in Mantikas v. Kellogg , 910 F.3d 633, 636 (2d Cir. 2018), where it represented consumers who alleged that they were misled by the whole grain claims made on Cheez-It crackers. In this landmark decision, the Second Circuit concluded that consumers were likely to be misled by Cheez-It’s whole-grain claims and held that consumers are not required to look beyond prominent, misleading representations on the front of a package to discover the truth from the small print.

Our lawsuits under the Administrative Procedure Act are filed where an agency has unreasonably delayed taking an action or where an agency has acted in an arbitrary and capricious way, abused its discretion, and/or acted unlawfully. An example of one of our successful APA lawsuits is Cnty. of Santa Clara et al. v. U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Serv. et al ., No. 5:21-cv-01655 (N.D. Cal. filed Mar. 9, 2021). In 2022, following our lawsuit, HHS withdrew the disastrous Trump-Era Sunset Rule, which threatened to eliminate thousands of health and food safety regulations.

The Litigation Attorney works with CSPI’s Senior Litigation Director and outside co-counsel to litigate complex civil cases in federal and state courts around the country, assists with most litigation activities, including case development and discovery, and assumes enhanced responsibilities in specific cases as warranted.

This position reports to the Senior Litigation Director and can be based in CSPI’s DC office, where we offer a hybrid work environment, or remotely within the United States. As a public health organization, CSPI makes efforts to maintain a safe workplace for employees and visitors. We require all employees to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are eligible, and the vaccine is available to them. Proof of vaccination is required during the onboarding process.

Essential Duties And Responsibilities

 

  • Undertake consumer protection and administrative litigation on behalf of CSPI or on behalf of private plaintiffs.
  • Identify and retain appropriate class plaintiffs.
  • Draft complaints and other legal documents such as motions, briefs, and discovery requests and responses; conduct discovery.
  • Research new topics for future litigation and help to develop such lawsuits.
  • Identify matters suitable for regulatory action.
  • Read relevant trade journals and news stories, and examine advertising and labeling for food products.
  • Stay abreast of changes in relevant statutes and regulations.
  • Draft and file occasional amicus briefs, in consultation with the President, Senior Litigation Director, and other relevant parts of CSPI.
  • Time permitting, provide legal counsel to Program Department staff related to their ongoing work.
  • Time permitting, assist in projects meant to decrease CSPI’s legal risk (e.g., providing counsel to mitigate copyright infringement and/or defamation risk).
  • Maintain law license as described below.
  • Attend court hearings in active CSPI cases as necessary.
  • Represent the Litigation Department at internal staff meetings and events as necessary.

Qualifications

 

  • Law degree (JD) and member of District of Columbia Bar or ability and willingness to become a member within first 6 months of employment.
  • Judicial clerkship experience or three to five years of litigation experience preferred.
  • Excellent legal research, writing, and analytical skills.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Ability to innovate and think conceptually.
  • Knowledge about the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its regulations, preferred.
  • Knowledge about First Amendment law, federal preemption law, copyright law, and defamation law, preferred.
  • Experience in class action, consumer protection, and Administrative Procedure Act law, preferred.
  • Self-motivated and proven ability to work independently.
  • Ability to work effectively in a fast-paced environment with multiple priorities and meet frequent deadlines.
  • Ability to work across teams in a positive, inclusive, collaborative, and strategic organizational culture.
  • Commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at the intersection of public health and social justice and the ability to promote it throughout the work and in the workplace.
  • Computer proficiency with Microsoft Office and Internet-based legal research tools such as Lexis and PACER.
  • Proficiency in filing documents online in federal and state courts, preferred.
  • Interest and commitment to CSPI’s work and mission and embracing CSPI’s core values described below.

CSPI on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

CSPI Is Committed To Including And Valuing Diverse Voices And Fostering a Culture That Ensures All Staff Feel a Sense Of Belonging And Are Encouraged To Be Their Best Selves. In That Spirit, Each Of Us Is Committed To Putting In Constant Work To Live Up To Our Organization’s Core Values

  • We are inclusive. We seek to foster an environment where all staff feel a sense of belonging and are affirmed. We are not looking for everyone to think and look the same. We actively welcome and value staff with different experiences, backgrounds, attributes, abilities, and perspectives.
  • We are open. We are honest and direct in how we communicate with each other in order to build trust and integrity within our organization.
  • We are accountable. We acknowledge and assume responsibility for our actions.
  • We are kind. We communicate and treat one another in a respectful, generous, considerate, and compassionate way.
  • We are collaborative. We work together for the common good and shared success.

Compensation

The salary range is $90,000 to $115,000, based on relevant experience. CSPI offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes: 3 weeks of annual vacation leave; additional paid holiday leave between December 24 and January 1; 8 weeks of paid parental leave; excellent medical and dental insurance with CSPI paying a significant portion of employee and dependent premiums; and a 3% employer match contribution to the retirement plan after six months of service. Because we also offer ½ day Fridays, our workweek is 36 hours for full-time employees.

To Apply

Please utilize CSPI's Paylocity Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to apply for the position. You are required to submit a resume and cover letter highlighting relevant experience and interest. For candidates with less than three years of litigation experience, please submit your law school transcript. The application deadline is May 31, 2024.

CSPI is committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspective, and skills and encourage people of diverse ages, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, disabilities, religions, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, work, and life experiences to apply.