The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in August 2007 and works 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. Using a community lawyering approach to priority setting, SCSJ’s focus areas currently include voting rights, justice system transformation, as well as environmental justice and human rights when resources permit. SCSJ provides comprehensive resources for communities seeking to create structural change, in areas from research and litigation to organizing and communications, and utilizes all mechanisms for supporting those communities, including community and movement lawyering strategies.

For more information about our work and our unique lawyering approach, visit our website at www.scsj.org. 

Diversity and Inclusion Statement: 

SCSJ is committed to a policy of equal employment opportunity for all persons without regard to race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, personal appearance, marital or family status, citizenship, past, current, or prospective service in the uniformed services, genetic information, natural hair styles, or other status as protected by State and Federal laws. It is our intention to promote the full realization of equality in opportunity and employment. 

Position Summary: 

SCSJ has an immediate opening for Chief Counsel of our Justice System Reform team to provide legal and policy advocacy to support legal and grassroots campaigns fighting to eliminate mass incarceration and its latent effects, the criminalization of Black and Brown youth and to conduct strategic litigation to build power for communities impacted by the justice system. The JSR Chief Counsel will work closely with the current JSR team, which consist of attorneys and a community organizer as well as alongside extraordinary communications and research professionals. 

Vision and Framework: 

The Justice System Reform (JSR) program believes in a world where communities of color have the resources, representation and power to thrive in their full dignity and where children are not criminalized. To achieve this vision, JSR utilizes community and movement lawyering models that provide legal advocacy, strategic research and communications, and organizing support to grassroots campaigns fighting to end mass incarceration and youth criminalization and to empower those affected by the justice system. 

Responsibilities: 

The JSR Chief Counsel will:

  • Be a passionate leader committed to ending mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline.

  • Bring compassion for and understanding of the experiences of justice-involved people and impacted communities.

  • Have a deep understanding of criminal justice and youth justice reform issues nationally and the social levers that contribute to mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline,including: systemic racism, poverty, and voter suppression and economic disenfranchisement of those who have been involved in the justice system.

  • Use the four-pronged approach of legal advocacy, organizing, research and communications to set a vision for and grow the Justice System Reform team’s efforts across the South.

  • Provide legal and policy advocacy to grassroots campaigns led by youth and communities of color fighting to end the criminalization of youth of color, implement transformative justice initiatives and obtain reparations for communities and individuals harmed by the youth and adult justice systems.

  • Lead systemic litigation designed to elevate the campaigns of our grassroots partners and structurally transform criminal justice and youth serving systems throughout the south.

  • Conduct policy analysis related to criminal, youth and educational justice and transforming governmental systems that impact communities of color.

  • Seek out social justice and community-based lawyering opportunities throughout the South and develop strategies to address issues faced by those communities.

  • Be a collaborative and non-hierarchical leader, a mentor and coach, and bring experience creating flexible and caring management practices on teams.

  • Help attorneys on the JSR team develop their own advocacy and litigation skills.

  • Organize and host convenings of southern attorneys working to end negative impacts of justice system involvement and youth criminalization in order to help maximize our collective impact and advance the field.

  • Build, maintain and develop strong relationships with our partners and help expand the reach of SCSJ’s justice system transformation work throughout the South.

  • Support the Executive Director and Development teams in fundraising efforts by communicating and engaging funders in the vision and work of the JSR team.

  • Partner with administrative team members to effectively manage the operations of the Justice System Reform team and its projects. This includes personnel management, setting and managing the budget, onboarding new staff members and setting up communication and business practices that ensure timely reporting, expense management, and accountability across the team.

Minimum Qualifications: 

  • Licensed to practice law in the North Carolina, or ability to waive in promptly to the North Carolina Bar.

  • 7-10 years of complex civil litigation and policy advocacy experience.

  • Excellent communication skills and experience communicating complex legal principles to individuals from various backgrounds.

  • An existing understanding of multi-pronged strategies for social change that integrate legal advocacy, organizing, research, and communications, and experience leading campaigns or efforts across those strategies; an appreciation and understanding of the law and experience working closely with or managing attorneys is critical. 

  • Commitment to an intersectional approach to addressing policing and criminalization issues that centers racial justice and builds power for Black and Brown communities.

  • Experience providing legal support through a racial justice lens.

  • Demonstrated success inspiring and leading highly talented and diverse teams, preferably of legal and/or organizing staff.

  • A deep personal commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion; lived experience that informs an authentic understanding of the challenges faced by vulnerable communities and a sophisticated understanding of the historical nature of structural power differences in the US South with a lens into how that impacts social justice efforts today.

  • 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, andan ability to translate vision and strategy into external messaging.

  • High emotional intelligence, including maturity, keen judgment, the ability to facilitate challenging conversations and quickly read interpersonal dynamics, and the ability to work with people from a wide array of backgrounds and perspectives and across projects.

  • Orientation towards servant leadership, self-reflection, improvement, and learning.

  • Patience, a sense of humor, gravitas and a high tolerance for ambiguity; the ability to adapt quickly to change; and a natural orientation towards collaboration and an inclusive leadership style.

  • Ability to travel locally, regionally and nationally as needed.

Minimum Qualifications: 

  • Complex civil litigation experience, especially as it relates to race, gender, policing and education.

  • Legal and policy advocacy supporting grassroots campaigns with an explicit racial lense,organizing to address issues related to the criminal justice system and the school-to-prison pipeline.

  • Working closely with grassroots organizations addressing racial and gender justice issues.

  • Familiarity working at the intersections of race, gender/sexuality, economics, adolescence and criminal justice systems.

  • Experience managing a team of diverse professionals preferred.

Start Date:  

TBD

Salary and Benefits:  

The JSR Counsel salary range is $105,000 to $135,000 per year, commensurate with experience, and includes comprehensive health and retirement plans. 

Location: 

The JSR Chief Counsel 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 office environment. 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 upload a cover letter, resume, one legal writing sample and one policy writing sample. Please combine ALL required documents into a single PDF file and upload through the application form here.

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.