New job Director of Racial Justice Litigation and Advocacy in Wisconsin

Director of Racial Justice Litigation and Advocacy
Director of Racial Justice Litigation and Advocacy

Director of Racial Justice Litigation and Advocacy

Company : Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc.
Salary : $58,967 a year
Location : Wisconsin

Full Description



August 11, 2021

OFFICE PLACEMENT: This position may be housed in any of Legal Action’s six offices (Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, or Racine.) Also, please see “Flex Work” section below.

SUMMARY: Working closely with the team described below, and other internal and external partners, the Director of Racial Justice Litigation and Advocacy will lead our firmwide efforts to identify and carry-out the legal work that will systematically, purposefully, and aggressively identify and address the race-based injustices and structural racism that low-income people face in civil law.

This position will be integrated into the firm’s current structure and team that develops and coordinates our impact and strategic litigation and advocacy. The team includes:

  • Director of Litigation and Strategic Advocacy;
  • Assistant Directors of Litigation and Strategic Advocacy (currently one position; adding a second position by fall 2021);
  • Coordinators in our priority areas of law (housing; family; public benefits; consumer; and barriers to employment); and
  • others (e.g., Director of Diversity and Inclusion, staff attorneys and paralegals and support staff, Director of Legal Services.)

While the Director of Racial Justice Litigation and Advocacy is joining and will work within an established team structure, we welcome new perspectives, ideas, and experiences. Our goal in creating this position is to bring more targeted and specific resources to our efforts to become a law firm that is both anti-racist and capable of engaging in legal work that dismantles structural racism, while also realizing that each individual staff member must contribute to the work.

This is an FSLA-exempt position, is a member of management, has responsibilities to the entire firm, and reports directly to the Executive Director.

Legal Action of Wisconsin (Legal Action) is the state’s largest civil legal aid law firm. Since our founding in 1968, we have held a deep commitment to undertaking litigation and strategic advocacy to ensure equal justice for low-income people. See for more information about both our historical and our current work.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by Legal Action of Wisconsin: Legal Action believes that equal justice under law can only be achieved through the collaboration of a diverse staff. We strongly encourage applications from people of color, people who identify as LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, women, and people with life experiences or educational backgrounds that add to the firm’s diversity and our capacity to provide high-quality legal aid.


  • Design, implement, coordinate, manage, and evaluate firmwide plans to deliver and sustain high-quality legal services (including direct service to individual clients) and high-quality impact litigation and advocacy that systematically and aggressively identifies and addresses the race-based injustices that low-income people face.
  • Undertake strategic case work and strategic advocacy, either as lead counsel or co-counsel.
  • Develop meaningful ties to relevant community organizations to ensure that our work is responsive to the needs of individuals who are directly affected.
  • Research possible race equity and racial justice legal problems; assess the costs and benefits of pursuing solutions to those problems; evaluate alternative forums for solving issues before litigation; and incorporate the results of the research into the firm’s racial justice and race equity legal work.
  • Mentor attorneys at all levels, teach litigation and advocacy strategies, and develop Legal Action attorneys’ litigation skills and capacity.
  • Coordinate and join in carrying-out complex litigation and/or strategic advocacy efforts through an array of mechanisms, e.g., as lead or co-counsel, supervisor of litigation teams, and community lawyering. These responsibilities may require the Director to assist with or lead on brief writing, oral argument, and other specific litigation tasks if the caseload/or other duties of advocacy team members makes it impossible for them to carry out an original assignment.
  • Keep abreast of new case law, major developments involving legal aid firms’ work and programming (especially those that are LSC-funded) in other states and nationally, and anti-racism and race equity legal work in the field of civil legal aid and more broadly.
  • Keep abreast of Legal Services Corporation regulations and other funding source contract and grant requirements. In conjunction with Legal Action’s Legislative and Compliance Director and others, ensure compliance with LSC regulations governing impact advocacy and litigation.
  • Work with Legal Action’s Volunteer Lawyers Project to involve private law firms in co-counseling and to develop relationships with them.
  • Increase Legal Action's public role in racial equity and racial justice law by publishing in professional journals (including law reviews) and presenting papers at academic and professional conferences and encouraging and encouraging and supporting other staff members to do so as well.
  • Contribute to firmwide training efforts.
  • Other duties as assigned.


Required: The following qualifications are required at hire:

  • Current Wisconsin law license or ability to obtain license within six months;
  • Strong commitment to undertaking civil litigation and other strategic advocacy to dismantle structural racism; and
  • Strong interest in developing creative strategies to challenge structural racism and race-based inequities, achieving goals, and collaborating in the work of civil legal services.

We ask each candidate to describe the way(s) that they meet these required qualifications in their application cover letter.

Desired: The following qualifications are desired at hire:

  • Prior connection to the subject matter of structural racism and its effects on our clients who are people of color and involved with the civil legal system — through lived experience, anti-racism work, social justice work, community organizing, and/or other relevant experience;
  • Knowledge of complex federal and state court procedures and federal and state appellate law and procedure and ability to plan and carry-out litigation, including drafting and responding to discovery;
  • Strong desire and willingness to work collegially and side-by-side with others (e.g., priority coordinators, project directors, managing attorneys, the Director and Assistant Director of Litigation and Strategic Advocacy, and the Director of Legal Services);
  • A positive and encouraging “growth mindset,” that is open to feedback, willing to take risks and fail, and supporting others as they take risks and fail;
  • Ability to write clearly, concisely, and promptly;
  • An understanding of the varied nature and “big picture” of impact advocacy;
  • Ability to assess the suitability of an issue or a case as a vehicle for impact litigation or advocacy;
  • Trial and litigation skills, including deposition and discovery, bench and jury trials and including cases with simple factual issues and with issues that might require expert testimony;
  • An understanding of and experience with appellate law and procedure, both in State and Federal Court;
  • A deep understanding of the use of litigation as a strategy in racial equity work both historically and in recent years;
  • An understanding of the multiple areas of the law that Legal Action practices in and how race equity litigation can be impactful in each of those areas;
  • An ability to understand proposed legislation and identify how that legislation will impact specific people to which structural racism is directed; and
  • Working with others (e.g., Legal Action’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Development and Communications Manager, and others), delivering a singular message about the firm’s commitment to and plan for race equity alignment work to earned, unpaid media outlets, policy makers (elected and not elected), community leaders, and the low-income community.

We realize that candidates may not have all the desired qualifications. In the cover letter, we ask candidates to specifically describe: a/the qualifications they currently meet; b/ the qualifications where they need development and training; and c/ their preferred plan to address those needs. We also encourage candidates to add information about other qualifications and experiences and their relevance.

TRAINING: Upon hire, training needs will be assessed, and a plan will be developed to ensure that training is provided to the new hire.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS AND WORK ENVIRONMENT: This position involves sedentary work, remaining stationary and operating a computer for an extended period; frequently moving objects such as files and office equipment, weighing up to 10 pounds. Communicate with clients in English and Spanish via telephone. Transmit written information using a computer and a cellular phone. Occasionally drives a motor vehicle while remaining stationary for extended periods of time. Occasionally positions self near floor or low shelf positions to retrieve various items and materials. During occasional outreach and client visits, the Director will need to transverse uneven ground and ascend and descending stairs to provide information to clients or interview potential clients. The work environment can vary from a controlled office environment with moderate noise from phones, printers, and light office traffic.

SALARY: Starting salary depends upon experience and is determined by Legal Action’s attorney salary scale. (In our Madison office, the salary is determined by the United Legal Workers’ collective bargaining agreement.) Currently, under our attorney salary scale, a newly-hired attorney with 0-1 years of experience would receive an annual salary of $45,727 for a 100% full-time position. A newly-hired attorney with 5 years of experience practicing law would earn a salary of $52,347. A newly-hired attorney with 10 years of experience would earn a salary of $58,967. Salaries are not negotiable and will follow this scale. In addition, the position generally receives an annual step increase, subject to approval of the Board of Directors. Because this is a management position, a management stipend will be added to the base salary.

FLEX WORK: Legal Action is, first and foremost, committed to providing high-quality legal services to its clients. The provision of high-quality legal services demands that services are easily accessible to clients and potential clients. Low-income persons often have limited access to the technologies required to access our services remotely. It is also best practice to have a wide variety of avenues by which our services may be accessed. Moreover, establishing a meaningful relationship with clients is an essential component of providing high-quality legal services. For some clients, this may require face-to-face interactions with advocates and staff. Therefore, it is crucial that Legal Action offices be open, staffed, and accessible to the public.

Legal Action also recognizes the paradigm-shift around work following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees' expectations have changed and employers’ views on remote work have evolved. Flexible work options were previously a desirable employee benefit; they are now essential. Legal Action recognizes flexibility as a fundamental element of recruitment, retention, and supporting inclusion and diversity. Flexibility also assists employees in balancing work and personal commitments while meeting firm needs and objectives.

Legal Action supports flexible work arrangements that meet the goals of the organization and the employee. Non-probationary employees are eligible to request flexible work. Flexible work arrangements are defined as alternate work plans that consistently differ from the standard hours and/or work location. They could include one or a combination of the following options:

  • Flextime: A work schedule with variable starting and ending times. Employees work the same number of scheduled hours as they would under a traditional arrangement.
  • Part-time: A work schedule that Is less than full-time (40 hours per week).
  • Compressed work week: A work schedule that condenses a standard work week into fewer, longer days
  • Remote work: A work arrangement in which employees work at home or alternative worksite. Unless otherwise approved, the scheduled hours are the same as a traditional arrangement.

As of this posting, most Legal Action staff are working mostly remotely because of the pandemic, and this will continue until 11/30/21. After 12/1/21, all flex work arrangements for non-probationary employees will need pre-approval by management. We continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic (and its variants) and infection and vaccination rates carefully and may change these dates.

PROBATIONARY PERIOD: New employees are subject to a probationary period of 12 months.

GOVERNANCE AND OVERSIGHT: This position is governed by Legal Action’s personnel policies and other firmwide policies and procedures. These are subject to unilateral change without notice. In addition, this position, and all Legal Action attorneys are expected to follow our Attorney Performance Standards. The Director is also expected to follow our Supervisory Standards. There is no guaranteed period of employment and the position is at will, subject to termination at any time.

APPLICATIONS: Applicants must submit the following application materials via Legal Action’s online application portal by using this link:

  • A cover letter that includes detailed and specific information about qualifications as described above
  • A sample of recent legal writing
  • Resume
  • External applications only: Submit names, titles, and contact information for three professional references
  • Optional: A law school transcript if the candidate is a recent graduate.

Submit all application materials before 5 p.m. on 9/15/21.

HIRING: Deedee Peterson, Executive Director, is the hiring manager. She will convene a panel of current Legal Action staff members who will interview and rank candidates. The panel may include the Assistant Director of Litigation and Advocacy, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and Director of Compliance and Legislative Advocacy and Priority Coordinators, Staff Attorneys, and Paralegals. The panel will make a recommendation to Ms. Peterson and Ms. Peterson will decide whether to accept their recommendation.

Legal Action is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.