Community Lawyer

  • BC Civil Liberties Association
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Jun 18, 2017
Full time Lawyer (Private Practice) Lawyer (Public Sector) Lawyer (Other) Recent Call

Job Description

  We're hiring: defend civil liberties and human rights as our new Community Lawyer 

Staff Counsel (Community Lawyer) position 

The BCCLA seeks a lawyer who is passionate about using their legal skills to uphold civil liberties and human rights in Canada. 

The position will commence as soon as possible. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, closing July 15 th , 2017. We anticipate that rolling interviews may be held as early as the week of July 3rd. 

About us: The BC Civil Liberties Association is one of Canada's leading social and democratic justice not-for-profit organizations. With a mandate that includes work on police accountability, government transparency, voting rights, prisoners’ rights, national security issues and women's rights, we are one of the most vibrant and visible advocacy groups in Canada. The BCCLA is a small team with a big reach, and we want you to be a part of our work. 

About the position:
The successful candidate will spearhead the BCCLA’s community legal engagement work, supported by the policy director and the executive director. The BCCLA’s view of “the law” is wide and encompassing, and we see the role of public interest lawyers not simply as advocates in disputes, but to work with communities that are engaged in their struggle to have their human rights upheld. 

The BCCLA’s goal is to create deeper and enhanced engagement between the BCCLA and communities experiencing civil liberties and human rights issues around B.C., to the end of ensuring that we are able to be as responsive as possible to these issues. From our work around B.C., we understand some of these issues to include policing and particularly racial profiling discrimination in policing (both in southern BC and in northern BC and Indigenous communities), issues affecting people without legal status in Canada, and human rights issues experienced by communities that are involved in extractive industries. Other civil liberties and human rights issues connected with our mandate may also come to light through our work. The position will assist communities and individuals with their civil liberties and human rights issues, and work directly with community on law reform efforts that are within BCCLA’s mandate. 

The BCCLA is committed to building an inclusive and diverse workplace, and strongly encourages applications from all qualified applicants. Applicants from traditionally underrepresented or marginalized groups including Indigenous people, people of colour and LGBTQ+ people are welcome to self-identify, should they feel comfortable in doing so, in their cover letter. 

The counsel in this position will have the following principal responsibilities: 

Spearhead the BCCLA’s community legal engagement work, supported by the policy director and the executive director; 

Engage in law and policy reform research, writing and advocacy; 

Assist communities and groups in the development of advocacy and law reform strategies in relation to the civil liberties/human rights issues affecting them; assist in building education and capacity to carry out such strategies; 

Design and deliver community legal education resources and events, including specialized “know your rights” workshops and possibly clinics, to be delivered through community partnerships targeted at assisting those most vulnerable and/or most in need of the information; 

Manage our casework program, including intake, referral, and individual assistance; carry an individual caseload, the size and nature of which to be commensurate with the degree of complexity and the lawyer’s other duties; 

Develop and manage our legal observer program; 

Collaborate externally with coalitions and diverse allies to achieve common objectives; collaborate internally with legal and non-legal staff on organizational projects and objectives; 

Provide advice and consultation to community workers and groups in relation to the legal rights of those whom they represent and for whom they act; 

Engage with media regularly; 

Manage project budgets and working with development staff to source funding, and prepare updates and reports for funders and the BCCLA board, including financial reporting; 

Identify potential civil liberties and human rights issues for broader organizational work. Evaluate, in consultation with the policy director and executive director, issues to be taken on in our work; 

Deepen BCCLA’s relationships with partner agencies, advocates and community groups around the province, according to an established plan that identifies regions of focus; 

Provide support to policy director, executive director and litigation director on an as-needed basis; 

Identify and evaluate, with support of the litigation director, potential test case litigation; 

While this position is envisioned as principally a law reform/policy position, all lawyers may be involved in cross-cutting work and other organizational functions such as planning. 

About you:
You possess the following attributes:
Top-notch legal thinker with strong legal research, analysis, writing and advocacy skills – you can quickly analyze a new statute, policy or judicial decision and understand the key human rights and civil liberties issue(s) at stake and formulate a creative and pragmatic response; 

Strategic thinker with an aptitude for developing proactive law reform solutions; 

Ability to develop a strong knowledge of community with which you are working, including historical, political, cultural, racial, and class issues; 

Commitment to community-oriented lawyering, that is responsive to community needs, culturally competent and enhances community participation within the scope of BCCLA issues and strategies; 

Dynamic communications skills with an aptitude for public and media communications and community outreach – you can analyze and articulate legal concepts in a way that is credible, understandable and relatable to community residents, the general public, media, to the academy and policy makers alike; 

An understanding of the state of civil liberties and human rights in Canada, of current events and the political environment, and the ability to identify and prioritize the areas of opportunity to advance the BCCLA’s cause; 

Eagerness to thoughtfully challenge and argue in service of the BCCLA’s objectives; 

Ability to identify common concerns and help translate those into actionable issues that can be successfully addressed; 

Ability to use a mix of traditional and non-traditional legal skills, and both legal and non-legal tools, to support initiatives; 

Emotionally resilient to ongoing communication with members of the public contacting the BCCLA for assistance, some of whom are struggling with trauma, physical and/or mental health issues and some of whom the BCCLA is not able to assist; 

Well-developed relationship-building and inter-personal skills; 

Ability to strike the right tone to be effective in a variety of settings, whether community meetings, meetings with allied groups, testifying before a Parliamentary committee or press conferences; 

Ability to thrive in highly-charged situations and adapt to changing conditions to get the job done; 

Comfortable working in a self-directed and self-learning way, with appropriate support from your colleagues; 

Experienced in supporting and advancing organizational goals and are comfortable with project and budget management; 

Committed to the organizational goals of the BCCLA. 

You share the values that animate this work:
Recognizing and honoring the community’s expertise, strengths and resources; 

The centrality of listening; 

The commitment to working collaboratively with community members to identify problems, issues and strategies for change; 

Recognizing the limitations of the law and being willing and able to use a range of not-traditionally-legal approaches to uphold human rights (communications, education, government relations); 

Recognizing and creating space for community members to speak for themselves; 

Recognizing and engaging issues of difference and power. 

Experience and Qualifications:
Demonstrated interest in and commitment to human rights, civil liberties and social justice is an asset; 

Member of the Law Society of British Columbia or eligibl e for call to the BC Bar; 

J.D. or LL.B. degree; other advanced degrees an asset; 

Excellent legal research and writing skills; 

Ability to engage in complex legal analysis and fact investigation; 

Excellent oral and written communication and analytic skills; 

Ability and willingness to travel regularly within BC and Canada – we work with communities province-wide and this position requires in-person relationships to be fostered; 

Ability to work long hours when needed, for an employer that strives to ensure its employees can enjoy a balanced lifestyle; 

Ability to work independently as well as within a team; 

Ability to manage several projects in a fast-paced work environment; 

Strong ability, or capacity to develop ability, in media and public relations is an asset; 

Experience in community outreach preferably including work with marginalized communities a strong asset; 

Experience with casework and/or case management an asset; 

Experience in working with First Nations people in on and off reserve communities an asset; 

Ability in a language other than English is an asset, including but not limited to Indigenous languages, Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin), Punjabi, Spanish, Filipino; 

A deep understanding of the national and provincial policy environment in which we conduct our work is an asset. 

Compensation 

Salary is based on the BCCLA’s Salary Structure, and commencing at $60,000 for a first year call and proceeding through to $90,000 for 16 th year of call and beyond. Our target for hiring is between second and fifth year of call, but more junior candidates with strong community experience and more senior candidates with a strong passion for community work should also apply. Benefits include extended health and dental plan for the employee, spouse and dependents; a life insurance plan; four weeks’ annual vacation; and generous sick leave policy. Our progressive workplace environment includes the possibility for flexible work arrangements. 

Application and Selection Process 

Please submit two PDFs with your first and last name in the file name, e.g. “Ann_Smith_Resume.pdf.”: 

1) your resume 

2) cover letter and writing samples. With your cover letter, please include up to two writing samples as appendices: one sample of your legal writing, and, if available, one sample of your writing for a public audience. 

Please provide the contact information for three professional references in the designated field. Candidates are invited to share their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, but are in no way expected or required to do so. 

Closing date: July 15, 2017. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis; early applications are encouraged. 

We thank all applicants for their interest, but we will respond only to candidates who are being considered for an interview. 

Interviews will be conducted by BCCLA staff at our office in Vancouver. The BCCLA will make appropriate accommodations if needed for candidates that we interview. We anticipate that interviews may begin as early as the week of July 3 rd .

Practice Area(s)

Civil Rights Law

Experience

1-16 years'