The Law Center is an equal opportunity employer and encourages all candidates to apply regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, or status with regard to public assistance.
The Law Center is committed to keeping children safe, and each person is responsible for meeting the requirements of the Law Center’s Child Safeguarding Code of Conduct.
About the Public Interest Law Center
The Public Interest Law Center is a nationally renowned public interest law firm with a mission using high-impact legal strategies to advance the civil, social, and economic rights of communities in the Philadelphia region facing discrimination, inequality, and poverty. We combine targeted litigation, legal advice, community education, advocacy, and organizing to secure people’s access to fundamental resources and services, including a high-quality education, health care, housing and community services, employment, a healthy neighborhood and the unencumbered right to vote. We accomplish our mission in partnership with a robust network of pro bono partners, community partners, volunteers and other essential stakeholders. We strongly value equity, inclusion, achieving racial and social justice, and empowering client communities through our high impact work.
The Public Interest Law Center (the Law Center), one of the most distinguished civil rights law firm organizations of its kind, is launching an executive director search to recruit a dynamic and collaborative leader and effective fundraiser who embraces the Law Center’s mission and high-impact litigation approach.
The executive director will join a highly successful entity. With a legacy dating back to 1969, the Law Center is one of the original affiliates of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; it was incorporated as a nonprofit in 1974. Throughout its history, the Law Center has used high-impact legal strategies to advance the civil, social, and economic rights of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Mid-Atlantic communities facing discrimination, inequality, and poverty. The organization uses litigation, community education, advocacy, and organizing to secure access to fundamental resources and services. The Law Center has numerous cases of national significance, across its six practice areas: employment, environmental justice, healthcare, housing, public education, and voting. A sampling of victories includes:
- Earlier this year, after a challenge from the Law Center, the Commonwealth Court declared Pennsylvania’s current public school funding system unconstitutional. The Court also declared that education is a fundamental right.
- In 2018, the Law Center successfully challenged Pennsylvania’s US congressional district map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. As a result, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a new map for the 2018 primary and general elections.
- In 2014, the Law Center was part of a team that defeated Pennsylvania’s discriminatory voter identification law, which would have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters.
- In 1998, the Law Center launched an advocacy campaign to fix Pennsylvania’s inadequate and discriminatory school funding system.
- In 1981, the Law Center secured the first-ever Community Right-to-Know ordinance giving residents access to information about toxic chemicals in their neighborhoods.
- In 1975, the Law Center intervened in Halderman v. Pennhurst to make it the first case in the nation to close a segregated residential institution for people with disabilities and replace it with community-based, integrated services. The Law Center brought and supported similar cases in seven states during the next 30 years.
In addition to high-impact litigation activities, the Law Center provides technical support to help communities advocate for legislative solutions to the issues they face. The Law Center drafts model legislation and comments on proposed legislation, testifies, and prepares clients to testify about proposed legislation. The Law Center organizes or attends rallies and press conferences about specific legislation and provides data, reports and other information to advocates and policy makers.
Board Governance and Staff
Stewarded by an engaged and committed board comprised of both attorneys and non-attorneys, the Law Center benefits from an incredibly talented staff of 17 individuals, 10 of whom are attorneys. Known for its excellent lawyering, the Law Center partners with pro bono attorneys from national and local law firms and nonprofit organizations to litigate cases. The Law Center uses a multi-disciplinary partnership model that brings together various stakeholders to advance equality. The board’s standing committees are executive, audit/finance, annual event, governance, nominations, litigation, and communications.
The Law Center’s annual budget is $2.1 million with healthy cash reserves and a small endowment. Sources of revenue include contributions from individuals and law firms, foundation grants, and income from events.
Capitalizing on the Law Center’s history, its organizational strengths, its reputation, and its human capital, the next Executive Director will be charged with:
- Providing strong internal leadership by inspiring and empowering staff by exercising a thoughtful and horizontal management approach and ethos;
- Offering determined and effective leadership with external stakeholders: corporate and institutional funders, individual donors, law firms, pro bono attorneys, and other legal and non-legal nonprofit organizations;
- Leading by example with intellectual curiosity and an inclusive and active listening style while exercising humility, diplomacy, and conviction;
- Sustaining and growing the Law Center’s inspiring vision and success with high-impact legal strategies;
- Diversifying and broadening sources of sustainable and recurring funding streams;
- Serving as a potent outward-facing spokesperson, energetic champion, and strong advocate for the Law Center’s work and impact; and
- Collaborating closely with the Board.
The executive director reports to the board and manages three direct reports: legal director; director of development and communications; and director of administration.
- Formulate a compelling vision in partnership with the board and staff to advance the Law Center’s mission. Ensure strategic initiatives are implemented and evaluated.
- Partner with legal director and staff to decide which cases to file and initiatives to pursue; where appropriate, assist legal director in presenting matters to board litigation committee. Support the legal director in reviewing the quality of legal work, ensuring appropriate staff oversight and training and monitoring workloads.
- Cultivate, develop, solicit, and steward individual and institutional donors and funders actively and consistently. Partner with director of development and communications to create and implement fundraising plans and strategies with input and advice from the board.
- Oversee the organization’s finances, including preparing and monitoring the budget and the annual audit. Manage external accountant’s monthly financial reports and review them with board audit/finance committee. Ensure appropriate financial controls are in place, including written financial procedures.
- Create a positive, supportive, and enjoyable workplace environment and recruit, empower, and retain colleagues.
- Initiate and develop relationships with board members to promote their interests and talents and identify ways they can assist with fundraising. Collaborate with board leadership and committee chairs to create agendas for meetings and committee work. Assist the board in recruiting and orienting new members.
- Serve as the primary spokesperson and liaison with community and media. Develop relationships and communicate with the media. Participate in speaking engagements and writing about the organization and its impact.
- Connect with individuals and organizations, including pro bono attorneys and community groups, and maintain contacts with other public interest groups, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Philadelphia Bar Association.
- Provide support and backup to the director of administration in all aspects of operations.
Key Selection Criteria and Requirements
The most compelling candidates will demonstrate:
- Mission Commitment and Alignment: Demonstrated genuine passion for, authentic alignment with, and embrace of the Law Center’s mission, with an emphasis on its high-impact litigation and interdisciplinary legal approach to advance the civil, social, and economic rights of communities in the Philadelphia region.
- Fundraising and Revenue: Proven experience cultivating, soliciting, and partnering with institutional and individual donors. With a can-do attitude, the person must be energized to develop relationships with, and to secure financial support from law firms, attorneys, foundation executives, and others.
- Legal Credibility: A J.D. is required, and high-impact litigation or litigation experience with a law firm or public interest legal organization is preferred.
- Casting and Implementing a Vision: Ability to conceive, develop, and execute a vision for the future in partnership with the board and staff.
- Embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives: Proven experience promoting meaningful and impactful DEI activities with a focus on increasing community and belonging.
- Staff Leadership: A collaborative, transparent, mature, and warm leadership style able to inspire an already highly motivated and performing staff. The Executive Director must lead by example, be accountable, and exercise good judgment. Ability to attract highly qualified and driven employees.
- Business Savvy and Financial Acumen: Proven experience and ability in budgeting process and fiscal management.
- External Persona: The person must be confident and effective serving as the public face of the Law Center with a substantive understanding of and fluency of the Law Center’s work and the meaningful consequences of such work.
- Interpersonal and Relationship-Building Skills: The ability to develop relationships with internal and external constituencies including staff, board members, volunteers and pro bono attorneys, funders and donors, law firms, other public interest legal organizations, and others. The person must be astute, thoughtful, and empathic.
The anticipated salary is between $150,000 and $165,000 with a compelling benefit package.
Process to Apply
The Public Interest Law Center is an equal opportunity employer. The Law Center is committed to ensuring a workforce that embraces and embodies the values of inclusion, belonging, cultural humility and mutual respect. The Law Center is eager to receive applications from people of all diverse backgrounds including, but not limited to, people of color, people with disabilities, people who have experienced poverty or homelessness, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Law Center’s board has retained the services of Lincoln Leadership (www.lincolnleadership.co) to conduct this search. For those interested in the search or who want to recommend someone for the role in confidence, please contact Andrew C. Wheeler, Founder & President, at 267 257-1910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants are invited to submit their resume and letter of interest, including a statement of qualifications and how your unique background and/or experiences would contribute to the Law Center. Review of candidate materials will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. For best consideration, please apply by November 1, 2023.