The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing, and communications. SCSJ is pleased to announce its search for a new Chief Counsel for Environmental Justice. The Chief Counsel will grow and lead SCSJ’s Environmental Justice team in implementing a vision expanding SCSJ’s organizing, advocacy, and legal support for environmental justice movements in the region.


The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in August 2007 and working across the South. Our mission is to promote justice by partnering with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights. SCSJ’s focus areas are community-driven, and currently include voting rights, justice system reform and youth justice, and a recently relaunched environmental justice program. Hosting one of the country’s premier voting rights programs, SCSJ has litigated voting rights and redistricting cases all across the South, in states including North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and Texas, including two United States Supreme Court arguments in the last few years. Our model of practice requires team members who work well with grassroots organizations and in collaboration with other civil rights groups. Team members must also possess deep passion for, and commitment to, racial justice and dismantling systems of oppression.

Reporting to Co-Executive Director for Programs, Allison Riggs, the new Chief Counsel for Environmental Justice (EJ) will lead and grow a team of talented legal and professional staff committed to communities disproportionately burdened by the impact of hundreds of years of racist environmental policy, and provide those communities the organizing, research, advocacy and legal tools to influence and set policies affecting their health and environment. The new Chief Counsel will craft a vision for expanding the EJ team’s work across the South, grounded in a community lawyering approach, and making use of integrated organizing, research, legal advocacy, and communications strategies. The Chief Counsel will build and mentor a collaborative and diverse team; partner with and support the work of grassroots organizations across the region; engage in policy advocacy; work across SCSJ to maintain effective operational practices; collaborate with other members of the senior leadership team to set and manage organizational goals and representation; and actively engage with leadership and development teams to raise necessary funding.

The ideal Chief Counsel candidate is a passionate leader committed to radically building power alongside communities in response to environmental injustice. They have a deep understanding of environmental justice and racism from a national perspective and the socio-political dynamics perpetuating these pressing challenges. The candidate has a demonstrated ability to advance a multi-pronged, strategic vision for social change. Crucially, the ideal candidate possesses experience working and building relationships in the South.

As a manager, the new Chief Counsel should be a proven and collaborative leader, mentor and coach with experience creating flexible and caring management practices. The new Chief Counsel must also have a strong racial equity analysis embedded in their internal management and programmatic approaches. A deep appreciation for and understanding of the law and experience working with attorneys to advance multi-pronged campaigns is critical.

Environmental Justice at SCSJ

SCSJ’s Environmental Justice Team promotes social, health, and economic justice through its efforts to combat environmental hazards in communities of color and those excluded from decision-making processes, advocate for youth justice and voting rights reforms which intersect with environmental justice, and create communications and advocacy toolkits by and for resilient rural communities responding to a worsening climate crisis, compounded by years of discriminatory land use and disaster relief policies.


  • Licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina, or ability to waive in promptly.
  • Significant experience in and knowledge of environmental justice issues.
  • Trial, appellate-level, and administrative proceeding experience highly preferred.
  • At least 6-10 years of legal experience; preference for candidate with 3-5 years of experience in complex in environmental justice spaces, with substantial motion and discovery practice, well-developed legal research and writing skills, and appearances in civil proceedings in state and/or federal court.
  • Significant fundraising experience and/or established connections with funders and donors interested in supporting environmental justice work.
  • Ability to be self-reliant, self-directed, and highly efficient; to independently resolve problems; to communicate clearly as part of a team of lawyers and non-lawyers; and to take responsibility for multiple cases at a time, as well as supervising a team doing the same.
  • Commitment to social justice principles and to SCSJ’s community-lawyering model of practice.
  • An existing understanding of multi-pronged strategies for social change that integrate legal advocacy, organizing, research and communications; experience leading campaigns or efforts across those strategies; an appreciation and understanding of the law and experience working closely with managing attorneys is critical.
  • Demonstrated success inspiring and leading highly talented and diverse teams, preferably of legal and/or organizing staff.
  • Experience engaging with community leaders and organizations with the skills to build program strategy informed by the needs of the communities.
  • Excellent communication skills, including interpersonal and public communication skills, and an ability to translate vision and strategy into external messaging.
  • Patience, a sense of humor, gravitas and a high tolerance for nuance and ambiguity; the ability to adapt quickly to change and to lead a team doing the same.
  • The ability willingness to travel regionally and engage in significant public speaking.

Start Date: ASAP.

Salary & Benefits: The Chief Counsel salary will range from $105,00 to $135,000 a year, commensurate with experience in all the required job elements, and include comprehensive health and retirement benefits.

Location: The Chief Counsel for Environmental Justice will work from SCSJ’s office located in Durham, North Carolina.  Due to the ongoing public health crisis, SCSJ staff will be working remotely until advised that it is safe to return to work. During this period of remote time, we are working with staff on an individual basis to set up flex schedules if needed for childcare or other care commitments.

To Apply:

Candidates must combine cover letter and resume into one PDF file and upload at this link. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

SCSJ is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, gender, gender identity, age, or disability.

If you are an individual with a disability and need assistance completing the online application, please contact for assistance.