Job Opening Announcement: Wildlands and Wildlife Program Staff Attorney
Reports to: Wildlands and Wildlife Program Director
Location: Eugene or Portland, OR; Helena or Missoula, MT; Santa Fe or Taos, NM. Other locations in the region, including remote, may be considered, for the right candidate in the right situation.
Timeline: Job opening posted July 8, 2024; we strongly encourage candidates to submit their applications by August 12, 2024. All applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and the position will remain open until filled.
Note: Information is available below. Please apply through our ApplicantPro portal.

The Western Environmental Law Center is a leading nonprofit, public-interest environmental law firm rooted in the landscapes and communities of the western U.S. Founded in 1993, WELC has been celebrated as an Outside Magazine Best Place to Work for the last four consecutive years, Oregon Business Magazine Best Nonprofit, Law360 Environmental Group of the Year, and Better Business Bureau Torch Award winner for ethics.

We envision a thriving western U.S., abundant with protected and interconnected ecosystems, powered by renewable energy, and cared for by communities brought together in an ecology of kinship. We embrace a collaborative, team-based approach to foster the trust, belonging, and dignity essential to a healthy organization and to relationship-based advocacy that builds power for transformative change.

We seek a Wildlands & Wildlife Program Staff Attorney to join our team. We strongly encourage people of color, persons with disabilities, women, LGBTQ+ applicants, and people of diverse lived experience to apply.

The Wildlands and Wildlife Program Staff Attorney is an exempt, full-time position. The central focus of this position is strategic legal advocacy centered on the public lands, wildlife, water resources, and communities of the western U.S. in the face of a changing climate.

Given the dynamic moment we find ourselves in, this position’s specific responsibilities will evolve in response to changing social, political, ecological, and economic circumstances and opportunities as reflected in specific organizational strategies. Importantly, as with all WELC positions, this position is designed to accommodate a successful candidate’s distinctive skills, experiences, and interests.

Accordingly, the Staff Attorney will be encouraged and supported to identify and advance opportunities to shape WELC’s organizational and strategic direction, to share perspectives internally and externally, to mentor and be mentored, and to be a trusted and respected leader in their field and within their scope of work. The Staff Attorney will support and coordinate with WELC leadership, development, communications, and finance staff, including through advocacy updates, occasional assistance with fundraising activities, and representation of WELC in public and private settings, including conferences, partnerships, and meetings with foundation staff, private donors, and government decision-makers. The Staff Attorney will also participate in retreats, trainings, and other organizational events.

To fulfill this position’s responsibilities, the Staff Attorney may provide a full range of legal services on behalf of WELC including litigation, policy advocacy, and administrative action. To assist in these efforts, the Staff Attorney will stay apprised of relevant law, policy, social, and other developments. The Staff Attorney will work collaboratively with staff across the organization, seeking opportunities for cross-team advocacy between our Wildlands and Wildlife and Climate and Energy teams.

In all endeavors, the Staff Attorney will develop and maintain strong, trusting, and effective relationships with clients and partners and the full range of stakeholders involved in the Staff Attorney’s responsibilities. Given the importance of leveraging legal advocacy in service of advancing a progressive discourse, engagement in communications strategies with members of the media, public, elected officials, and others about WELC and matters relevant to the Staff Attorney’s docket will also prove essential.

The Staff Attorney is a normal 40-hour week position based out of an existing WELC office or, potentially, a remote home office in the western U.S., primarily working during Monday to Friday business hours, though some night and weekend hours may be required at times, depending on organizational and advocacy needs. Limited travel is required, including some overnight and weekend travel. The position also involves standard office physical demands. WELC will provide all reasonable accommodations to the extent possible or required pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

We are keenly interested in considering a range of applicants with diverse lived experiences who approach the world with kindness, empathy, imagination, and vision. We will happily consider applicants who offer an equivalent or alternative set of qualifications to fulfill this position’s responsibilities, apart from the first two qualifications set forth below, which are mandatory.

  • Law degree from an accredited law school.
  • Admission to and good standing with a U.S. state bar or willingness and ability to obtain membership to a U.S. state bar where the attorney is located at the earliest opportunity.
  • Lived experience within or past work experience in partnership with people and communities of diverse backgrounds and experience, particularly in the western U.S.
  • Approximately six to twelve years of attorney experience, although we will consider exceptional candidates with different experience levels.
  • Excellent research, writing, and oral advocacy skills.
  • Experience with and knowledge of public lands, wildlife, and community challenges and opportunities, in the western U.S.
  • Experience with and knowledge of the relevant agencies, laws and regulations employed in litigation to protect public lands, waters, and wildlife.
  • Ability and willingness to act as a lead attorney on cases and projects and use a complete set of legal advocacy tools including litigation, policy, and administrative advocacy.
  • A commitment to conceptualizing and implementing legal strategies that further equity, inclusion, and justice, including through the just treatment and meaningful involvement of clients, partners, and frontline community groups and individuals.
  • Dynamic and empathetic skills to foster relationships with partners, clients, agency staff, and community members. Demonstrated ability to work in complex, potentially high-conflict, multi-dimensional arenas involving a broad array of organizations and interests. Eagerness to mentor, support, and help develop newer attorneys.
  • Eagerness to mentor, support, and help develop newer attorneys.
  • An interest in and understanding of science and other technical fields and their interplay with public interest environmental law.
  • Ability to work independently and proactively, including a willingness to be flexible and adaptive when needed.
  • Desire to work on and contribute to a team. This includes, learning from others, giving and receiving support and feedback to/from colleagues, and active, constructive engagement in organizational discussions to advance the organization’s mission and contribute to its cohesion.
  • Highly organized and intellectually curious.
  • Demonstrated commitment to WELC’s mission and strategies and the public interest as well as a love for the land, waters, wildlife, and communities of the western U.S.

Western Environmental Law Center is an equal opportunity employer. We offer a flexible, friendly, team-based environment with immediate opportunities to shape organizational strategies, competitive salaries (starting salary range of $84,000 – $102,000 commensurate with 6-12 years legal experience).

WELC offers an excellent benefits package, including health, vision, dental, life, and disability coverage (with 100% employer paid premiums), a 401(k) retirement plan with a 4% employer match, 22 days combined of paid annual vacation and personal leave, 13 days of paid holiday leave, paid sick leave, and a paid long-term leave policy (3 months sabbatical leave for every 5 years of employment).

WELC also employs “Flexible Fridays” whereby time is used at the Staff Attorney’s discretion to engage in “deep work” that requires cognitive attention free of distraction, to wrap up tasks, plan ahead, or, on occasion and after a particularly busy time, to simply rest, relax, and recreate to support personal and professional resilience.

We strongly encourage people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants to apply. Please submit the following as PDF attachments through our ApplicantPro portal:

•1-2 page cover letter addressed to Sarah McMillan, Director, Wildlands and Wildlife Program;
•3 professional references; and
•1-2 concise writing samples, with at least 1 writing sample involving a legal memorandum, brief, or filing. An additional, non-legal writing sample is also welcomed to illustrate the candidate’s background, views, or ideas.

Cover letters should communicate applicants’ commitment to WELC’s mission and advocacy and their motivation to work in this position and public interest environmental law generally. In their cover letters, applicants are very strongly encouraged to tell us who they are as human beings and why they care about this work.

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