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Notice of Job Posting: Legal Director

Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC), a small (eight employees) nonprofit legal organization, is hiring a Legal Director. The Legal Director, in cooperation with the Executive Director, will be responsible for high level supervision of all of the cases undertaken by the Uptown People’s Law Center, to ensure that we deliver the highest quality representation to our clients. This includes cases handled in house by staff attorneys, as well as cases in which Uptown People’s Law Center is co-counsel with pro bono attorneys (generally from large firms). Our cases include administrative claims for Social Security Disability benefits and defense of tenants facing evictions, but the majority of the Legal Director’s time will be devoted to our prisoners’ rights work.

Responsibilities

The Legal Director reports to the Executive Director. The overall responsibility of the Legal Director will be to plan and supervise the legal services provided by the Uptown People’s Law Center and its pro bono partners to fulfill our mission of advocating for prisoners, tenants, and disabled people denied public benefits.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Help develop innovative litigation strategies to further the mission of the Uptown People’s Law Center and to meet the legal needs of our clients.
  • Supervise, coordinate, and evaluate legal work performed by our staff, volunteers, and interns.
  • Develop, recruit, and provide high-level strategic input into impact litigation carried out with our pro bono partners.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with UPLC’s network of pro bono partner law firms.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with community activists and other groups active in the areas of prisoners’ rights, disability rights, and affordable housing.
  • Participate, along with the Executive Director and all staff, in case development and selection.
  • Maintain a small (5-10) caseload of individual cases.
  • Carry out special projects and other directives as assigned by the Executive Director.
  • Provide support as needed to the communications and fundraising work of the Uptown People’s Law Center.

Qualifications

  • J.D., licensed to practice law in Illinois, or with the ability to become licensed within a reasonable time.
  • At least five years of experience in one or more of the following: representation of prisoners in civil rights litigation; participation in complex federal class action litigation; and supervision of other attorneys, including pro bono attorneys.
  • The ability to work effectively with both the clients of Uptown People’s Law Center and attorneys at large firms.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences.

Organization Background

Uptown is a unique, racially and economically integrated neighborhood located on the North Side of Chicago. The neighborhood includes both multimillion dollar mansions and public housing developments. Residents include immigrants and refugees from all over Africa and Asia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and more, as well as families with roots in Appalachia.

Uptown People’s Law Center was founded in the mid-1970s by community residents, including former coal miners and their widows seeking black lung disability benefits, and community activists fighting against displacement of poor people from Uptown. Pursuant to our recent strategic plan, Uptown People’s Law Center focuses in serving people who live in Uptown, and those who are or were incarcerated in Illinois’ prisons. The substantive areas of law we cover are focused on three areas: representing disabled people who have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, usually before an Administrative Law Judge; representing tenants who are facing eviction, or other issues relating to their tenancy; and representing prisoners in civil rights actions. UPLC currently has seven class action cases pending against the Illinois Department of Corrections, each partnered with pro bono attorneys, as well as half a dozen individual civil rights cases relating to conditions in Illinois’ prisons.

To Apply

Send a cover letter and resume to hiring@uplcchicago.org. Please, no phone calls, emails, visits, or social media contact regarding the position.

UPLC is an Equal Opportunity Employer. People of color, LGBTQ people, women, and/or former prisoners are encouraged to apply.

The Legal Director salary is $50-80k per year, depending on experience. UPLC provides 12 or more holidays, and 15 vacation days, per year.

 

 

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