The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC) is comprised of two entities, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California (the Foundation) a 501 c3 non-profit public benefit corporation and the ACLU of Northern California (the Union), a 501 c4 non-profit mutual benefit corporation. The General Counsel will serve as the in-house legal counsel to both corporations’ executive staff and board. ACLU-NC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to defending and advancing the principles of freedom, equality, and justice contained in the United States Constitution for all. The Foundation does so through impact litigation, policy and educational work, and the Union does so through a range of legislative and community action programs. The ACLU of Northern California is headquartered in San Francisco with additional offices in Fresno and Sacramento. In addition, the ACLU of Northern California maintains strong collaborations with the ACLU of Southern California and ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties: this collaboration is called the ACLU of California.
Since its formation in 1934, the ACLU-NC has been at the heart of many of the major struggles for civil rights in the state and country. Today, it is one of the largest ACLU affiliates in the country with 170,000 members in the ACLU-NC Union membership.
The General Counsel (GC) is a critical member of the ACLU -NC leadership team with a mandate to advise the executive staff and organization’s Board of Directors on governance and risk matters. This leadership role provides legal services and representation for ACLU-NC with respect to a broad range of work including, but not limited to, 501c3 and 501c4 compliance, employment, contracts, corporate, nonprofit, lobbying, and other laws and regulations. Additionally, the General Counsel is responsible for enlisting, directing and overseeing the work of ACLU-NC outside counsel as it relates to the organization’s own legal needs.
The General Counsel is responsible for developing an in-depth understanding of both the mission and the culture of ACLU-NC, with an emphasis on the growing demands of the organization’s internal human resources and other operational areas and external contracting, commercial and transactional matters in support of the organizations’ strategic priorities. The successful hire will be focused and committed to building strong relationships with their internal ACLU-NC colleagues and external ACLU-NC partners and others. A commitment to service, partnership, and teamwork is the hallmark of success at ACLU-NC, as is adaptability in the face of dynamic change. The General Counsel will be a solution oriented, helping the organization find solutions to accomplish its goals while reducing risk.
The General Counsel does not oversee or have a direct role in managing the ACLU of Northern California’s Legal and Policy program, which is overseen by other senior managers/Directors.
The General Counsel reports to the Executive Director of ACLU-NC and will be located in the organization’s San Francisco, California headquarters but may travel to our other offices in Fresno and Sacramento.
Compliance and risk management: As ACLU-NC’s counsel, the General Counsel plays a primary role in safeguarding the relationship between the two organizations and protecting their rights, tax exempt status, and public reputation; assuring compliance with all applicable corporate legal and regulatory requirements and commitments; defining standards and practices for corporate operations; issues related to legal ethics and practice of law; FPPC reporting; and assessing advising on and managing legal and regulatory risk.
Day to day needs: Implement and execute the day to day regular legal needs of the organization, including employment matters, contract and lease review, political communications and lobbying issues, and other matters as they arise. Support other attorneys to address conflicts of interest, legal ethics questions, retainer agreements, etc.
Support the organization in developing and adhering to internal policies: The General Counsel works closely with the Executive Director, Management and the Board of Directors to assure a culture of integrity, ethics and compliance across the organization and fostering the compliance and ethics programs, the development and execution of core organizational policies and adherence to strong governance standards.
Governance: Support and advise Boards on governance and fiduciary issues.
Strategy and planning: As the chief legal advisor to the Executive Director and the Board of Directors, the General Counsel provides analysis, counsel and guidance on the implications and risks of strategic and operating plans and decisions. The General Counsel is expected to engage closely as an advisor in organizational decision-making and strategic planning for the institution; to monitor and advise on emerging trends in an evolving legal, regulatory, and legislative environment; and to anticipate problems before they arise for the Executive Director and other members of the executive team, based on strong relationships of trust and confidence.
Other Responsibilities: The General Counsel is also expected to participate in selected non-legal matters as needed by the organization and as appropriate to the General Counsels’ specific skillset such as project management and government and community affairs. They will also directly supervise a legal assistant who will also support other senior staff.
The ideal candidate for this position will be a seasoned professional with successful experience in a legal role advising organizations on a diverse portfolio of legal matters. An individual who can both work at the organizational and strategic level, but will do the actual legal work on a day to day basis.
Strong professional independence and uncompromising professional ethics and integrity;
Powerful intellectual acumen and analytical capabilities;
Effective written and oral communication skills;
Excellent interpersonal skills;
Strong professional discipline and professional standards;
Strong strategic insight and professional judgment;
Commitment to ACLU mission;
Solution oriented and collaborative
A JD from an accredited U.S. law school and a member in good standing of a State Bar;
A minimum of 10+ years of relevant experience gained in-house or in a law firm, or a combination of the two; experience can span non-profit, government, for-profit or other types of organizations;
Successful experience as a legal advisor and counsel to an organization;
Experience and demonstrated track record advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in their professional capacity;
A proven background in one or more of the diverse areas of the law in which the organization’s General Counsel practices including, but not limited to, general corporate, human resources, contract law, nonprofit governance, legislative policy advocacy, and tax law (501c3/501c4);
Demonstrated ability to spot potential issues, research new areas, develop new expertise and tap internal and external resources to find solutions across a broad array of issues;
Self-motivation and an ability to manage and complete a complex work load with minimal supervision;
Ability to work both independently and collaboratively in a complex organizational ecosystem.
ACLU-NC’s Commitment to Fairness in Employment
The ACLU-NC advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to support a work environment free from discrimination on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (over 40), sexual orientation, military and veteran status, arrest or conviction record, and any other basis prohibited by law. The organization also provides reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. This equal employment opportunity policy applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, selection, advancement, training, problem resolution, and separation from employment. Through this policy, the ACLU-NC strives to establish and maintain an equitable and accessible work environment that is supportive and free from discrimination.
Interested, qualified attorneys are encouraged to apply by sending an electronic copy of the following: (1) a cover letter explaining why you are interested in this position and the ways in which you satisfy the qualifications specified above, (2) resume, (3) writing sample (no more than 10 pages) that indicates whether it is entirely your work or was edited by others (and if so, in what respect) and (4) a list of four references. Applicants concurrently applying to any other position with the ACLU should state what other position they are applying for in the cover letter.
Application materials should be sent in MSWord or PDF to search consultants Steve John and Jason Snyder at the following email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. All inquiries and/or resumes sent directly to ACLU-NC will be redirected to Steven John & Associates, LLC for review, which may cause significant delay in evaluation and response.
On behalf of the ACLU-NC, we thank you for your interest in the General Counsel opportunity.
Additional Salary Information: A competitive and attractive compensation and benefits package will be provided to the new General Counsel.
About Steven John & Associates, LLC
We are attorney executive search consultants. Our professional search services include industry leading methodologies and practices that allow our clients to tailor the specifics of each search to meet the particular needs of their organizations. Because of our boutique model, we are able to provide a bespoke service, putting our clients' unique needs first.Our clients turn to us to help them attract and hire great lawyers for their legal departments. Whether hiring the first lawyer into a rapidly growing start-up, or refining a maturing legal organization, our search expertise and our extensive professional network make us an ideal partner in that effort.