In-House Counsel - Labor & Employment

Work must be performed in California, US
Published 18 days ago

Details at a Glance

Job Type
Full Time
J.D. Required
Experience Level
USD $130,000 - $150,000 / year


Mission Statement

Through the use of social and restorative justice principles, Five Keys provides traditionally underserved communities the opportunity to improve their lives through a focus on the Five Keys: EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT, RECOVERY, FAMILY, COMMUNITY.

Five Keys Overview

Five Keys is a nonprofit organization that operates an extensive network of programs across California. With a presence in 14 counties and over 120 locations, Five Keys focuses on various initiatives aimed at empowering individuals and families to overcome poverty and inequity. The organization's programs encompass a wide range of services, including public charter schools, restorative justice programs in jails and prisons, shelters, permanent supportive housing, and the development of new housing and support programs. At Five Keys, the overarching objective is to uplift individuals and families by providing them with essential resources. This includes education, housing, employment, and the necessary tools to sustain their progress. By offering these fundamental elements, the organization aims to create positive and lasting change in communities, making them better places for everyone.

 Our Core Competencies

A well qualified candidate has the capacity to communicate effectively, collaborate with others while building positive relationships, demonstrates strong problem solving skills, has a dynamic learning mindset, and remains committed to a high level of cultural and social awareness. A successful candidate will work well under pressure, observe appropriate boundaries and operate with a high degree of emotional intelligence.

What it’s really like to join our agency…

At Five Keys, culture matters. Culture is at the very core of everything we do and impact on a daily basis. We’ve made a commitment to building an inclusive culture that seeks collaboration over hierarchy to create empowered work teams. We serve vulnerable populations daily and we strive to approach everyone with compassion, patience and a trauma informed approach. We choose to push past discomfort to have difficult conversations to impact the greater good. This allows us the opportunity to collaboratively create an inclusive culture and transform the world around us.


Five Keys, a nationally recognized non-profit, is seeking in-house counsel for labor and employment.

The In-House Counsel - Labor & Employment position reports to the CEO and is accountable for providing employment and labor law expertise for the organization. This position requires a specialization in employment and labor law, including substantial working knowledge of union relations, including but not limited to,  collective bargaining, local, state, and national policies and practice.  

The right person for this position will have an eye on prevention, intervention, and proactive counsel and responses. The In-House Counsel - Labor & Employment is a pivotal role! The position is responsible for managing legal issues related to labor and employment, collaborating with HR and organizational leaders to provide oversight in union relations, ensuring legal compliance, particularly as it relates to California employment law, and serving as the primary legal advisor in various forums.  The In-House Counsel - Labor & Employment must be prepared to represent Five Keys during court, mediation, and arbitration sessions. The successful candidate will efficiently provide counsel for preventative policies and operations as well as assist in needed legal intervention, manage legal risks, reduce reliance on outside counsel, and maintain proactive communication with the management team and Human Resources. 


  • Function as in-house counsel for all legal and personnel matters, consulting with outside counsel as needed
  • Maintain professional communication with our labor partner
  • Manage, track, support, and advise leadership on all union grievances, filings, and disputes
  • Manage and track union grievances, complaints, and other labor issues and respond to and after advising senior management
  • Represent Five Keys in court, mediation, arbitration, and other settings where legal representation is beneficial or required
  • Prepare '' Letters of Demand”, “Cease and Desist”,  legal briefs, pleadings, and other legal documents in-house and secure external documents as needed
  • Lead negotiations of collective bargaining agreements
  • Respond to legal complaints and coordinate legal strategy with outside counsel and Five Keys Leadership
  • Advise on risk management and keep the management team informed of all potential lawsuits and claims
  • Reduce the risk of litigation, PAGA complaints, and class action lawsuits
  • Stay abreast of federal, state, and local labor and employment laws, regulations, and court decisions and ensure the organization's policies and practices are in compliance
  • Ensure compliance with state and federal law with regard to terminations, discipline, leaves of absence, and accommodations
  • Ensure compliance with all applicable Federal and State (California) employment and personnel laws and regulations
  • Develop, review, and update organizational  policies, procedures, and employee handbooks to mitigate risk and align with current labor and employment laws and best practices
  • Ensure the timely and efficient dissemination of updates in policies and procedures 
  • Consult with outside counsel on complex legal matters as needed
  • Provide regular updates to the CEO and management team about legal challenges and changes in the regulatory environment
  • Prepare monthly reports to the board of directors
  • Conduct legal training sessions for management and staff on compliance and best practices in labor relations
  • Minimize costs by effectively managing legal issues in-house
  • Proactively advise and provide technical expertise, information, and assistance to staff
  • Prepare and review required policies, regulations, and notices
  • Draft, negotiate, and review contracts and memoranda of understanding (MOU's)
  • Advise on Human Resources related matters including discipline, investigations, DFEH/EEOC complaints, and ADA-related issues
  • Oversee Public Records Act responses and Requests for Information
  • Other duties as assigned


  • Excellent negotiation, verbal, and written communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work closely with high-level executives and across various departments
  • Ability to maintain high levels of professional conduct in adversarial situations
  • High level of emotional intelligence and the ability to make sound decisions and recommendations that are in the best interest of Five Keys
  • Ability to maintain a professional demeanor and communication in tense situations
  • Ability to track, organize, and respond to all potential legal matters, claims, demands, and communications
  • Advanced proficiency in Zoom, Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, and databases
  • Able to maintain strict confidentiality and take all precautions when handling sensitive information
  • Ability to effectively and efficiently work from home and independently, with high levels of self-accountability


  • Licensed to practice law in California in good standing
  • At least 2 years of experience in employment law and labor relations, with a strong preference for experience in a union environment
  • Comprehensive knowledge of and experience with California employment laws and collective bargaining
  • Proven ability to represent an organization in legal proceedings


  • To promote the health and safety of its employees, those we serve and our local communities, Five Keys requires that all employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and/or adhere to all weekly testing and safety measures. Employees may also request and receive approval for an exemption from this policy. Exemptions are granted to accommodate a medical condition or sincerely held religious belief 
  • Must wear provided PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and adhere to all safety guidelines and requirements, when needed
  • Frequent talking and hearing conversations
  • Long periods of walking, sitting at a desk and/or computer station
  • Lifting items that weigh up to 25 lbs.; reaching, bending, carrying and stooping within the daily routine of tasks and activities


This position is contingent upon: 

  • Satisfactory results of a Live Scan (criminal background investigation)
  • Successfully obtaining jail clearance for positions working in county jails or probation locations
  • Submitting proof of clear TB results. Results dated within 60 days prior to hire date are acceptable


  • Moderate to high noise level
  • Work environment varies from site to site
  • Some personal safety risk working in underserved communities
  • Working remotely is an option; however, office space is available: Must live in Northern or Southern California where Five Keys operates  
  • Must be willing and able to visit correctional facilities where Five Keys operates and travel throughout the area to community sites as needed throughout California
  • Must be willing and able to travel state-wide to various locations or meetings as needed


At Five Keys, we understand that when our employees grow, the agency has a greater capacity to thrive and accomplish its mission. It is for this reason that we remain committed to providing ongoing professional development opportunities for all of our employees. These include but are not limited to: conferences, staff development training, and coaching plans that allow incumbents to grow into new positions within and across programs within the agency (i.e., programs, schools, housing).

Mission Statement

Through the use of social and restorative justice principles, Five Keys provides traditionally underserved communities the opportunity to improve their lives through a focus on the Five Keys: EDUCATION, EMPLOYMENT…



We offer very low monthly costs for medical insurance! Dental, vision and life insurance premiums paid by Five Keys and various pre-tax flexible spending accounts and retirement account 403b. Generous time off. Annual reimbursement up to $100 towards gym membership, smoking cessation and weight loss programs. Annual reimbursement up to $50 towards annual athletic event participation and annual massage after 6 months of employment. FREE access to wellness-related apps, Employee Assistance Program and a comprehensive mental health care platform for you and your dependents.


We offer very low monthly costs for medical insurance! Dental, vision and life insurance premiums paid by Five Keys and various pre-tax flexible spending accounts and…


Work must be performed in California, US
Oakland, CA, USA

How to Apply

Similar Jobs


Join Idealist

Sign up today to save your favorite jobs and get email alerts when new ones are posted.