Legal Director

Posted by
Published 14 days ago

The Detroit Justice Center (DJC), an innovative community law practice, seeks a full-time Legal Director. DJC is founded on the belief that we cannot build cities that work for everyone without remedying the impacts of mass incarceration and transforming our justice system. This position is a unique opportunity to support DJC in its mission to deliver community lawyering services, create economic opportunities, and promote just cities. We have established a set of values to guide our work, and we seek a Legal Director who will deeply align with them.

Position Overview:

This position is a remarkable opportunity for a dynamic leader to help expand and cultivate DJC’s impact. The Legal Director will provide strategic leadership for our programs, including our Legal Services & Advocacy Practice and our Economic Equity Practice, and broaden and deepen our partnerships with community-based organizations. Candidates should have experience in movement lawyering, a fluid understanding of police and prison abolition frameworks, and be eager to help a young organization with a wide range of legal needs. They should be a creative thinker, strategist, and doer able to navigate a variety of environments with skill and integrity. The Legal Director will work closely with the Associate Executive Director to continue developing and implementing our legal and advocacy strategy. As a member of DJC’s Senior Leadership Team, the Legal Director will report directly to the Associate Executive Director and collaborate closely with her on all matters related to the programmatic direction, effectiveness, and dynamic operations of the legal strategy for the organization. 

The Legal Director will be expected to support and provide legal services, offer expertise internally and externally, build relationships within the field, and partner and work closely with grassroots organizations. This position will use a variety of legal, policy, communications, and coalition-building strategies to assist our community partners and allies in achieving systemic change. The Legal Director must have a deep understanding of the problems that DJC is tackling (e.g. mass incarceration, community development, etc.). and be able to develop short- and long-term strategies to guide our team of staff attorneys. DJC’s attorneys are problem-solvers, not problem managers, and we seek a Legal Director who can help devise and lead strategies that get at the root causes of the issues our clients and communities face. 

Key Responsibilities:

Supervision, Training and Mentorship:

  • Support, train and mentor legal staff on best practices for community lawyering and ethical, zealous client representation;
  • Supervise members of the legal team (direct reports: managing attorneys of both legal practices) by providing timely feedback and supporting growth; 
  • Drive managing attorneys to meet work plan goals and deadlines;

Management and Leadership:

  • Cultivate a high-performing legal team by promoting a culture of trust,appreciation, and celebration;
  • Develop and implement best practices for attorney teams, including internal standards and policies around case management, legal services, and knowledge management;
  • Oversee professional development and evaluation of all legal staff;
  • Promote equity, empowerment, and inclusion office-wide and in community partnerships, outreach, and client interactions;
  • Ensure compliance with grant agreements, contracts, and other legal and ethical requirements;
  • Implement and adapt tools to promote self-reflection and evaluate the effectiveness of our practice;
  • As a member of DJC’s Senior Leadership Team, serve as a thought partner to the Associate Executive Director and organization by proactively identifying trends, systemic issues, and policies that affect local communities and proposing innovative solutions;
  • Cultivate and manage strategic relationships, coalitions, and diverse partnerships with community organizations and DJC’s partners;
  • With the Associate Executive Director, and in conjunction with the Managing Attorneys, build and maintain relationships with the courts, government agencies, public officials, the media, and the nonprofit legal community;

Community Outreach:

  • Conduct outreach, as needed, with local community organizations regarding the campaigns they are working on and support services offered by DJC;

Legal Representation and Advocacy: 

  • Along with DJC staff attorneys, advise, counsel, and represent clients in litigation;
  • Maintain organized client files, case notes, and database systems for caseload;
  • Co-develop organization’s legal and advocacy strategy with Associate Executive Director, Legal Services and Advocacy Practice and Economic Equity Practice, as appropriate;
  • Work with coalition partners, community members, and clients to determine goals and strategies for tackling systemic issues
  • Represent DJC through public testimony, writing, legislative education, public education, and other advocacy; and
  • Track and assess progress and needs. 


  • J.D. degree;
  • At least 7-10 years of experience representing clients in criminal and/or civil legal matters (ideally including both direct representation of individual clients and complex litigation); 
  • 3-5 years experience of mentoring and training junior staff 
  • Must either be licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan or be eligible for admission to the Michigan bar at the time of hiring (must be admitted within one year of hire).
  • Must be an attorney in good standing;
  • Extensive experience in state and federal courts in Michigan preferred;
  • Prior experience working with grassroots organizations and/or in nonprofit environments advocating for systemic change preferred.
  • Demonstrated experience as a strategic thinker who can design and implement programs;
  • Ability to creatively apply law and logic to solve new legal issues;
  • Flexible and adaptive problem-solving skills, including the ability to identify, develop, and implement solutions;
  • Derives energy from handling a variety of diverse legal and managerial tasks;
  • The ability to develop and sustain a broad set of relationships with people from diverse backgrounds; 
  • Impeccable attention to detail; 
  • Ability to build strong and trusting internal and external professional relationships;
  • An ability to relate to and communicate effectively with a diverse group of clients, community partners, and staff, as well as nonprofit, government, and judicial communities;
  • An ability to work independently with autonomy and communicate proactively with our team;
  • Excellent writing and oral skills and ability to distill complex legal issues for a broad audience;
  • Thrives in a fast-paced, start-up work environment; and
  • Highly organized. 
  • Knowledge/experience of justice issues and passion for DJC’s mission and values; and
  • Knowledge of MS Office Suite and Google products; experience with case management software and web conferencing software (e.g. Google Meet, Zoom) a plus

The target salary for this role is $110,000-$115,000.  DJC offers an array of robust benefits in addition to its base salary including 100% employer-paid health benefits, 2% retirement match, 10 paid holidays, 20 PTO days, 2 centering days, 5 sick days, and a flexible schedule. This position will be remote until the organization returns to the office. DJC is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer. People of color, women, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and individuals with past involvement in the justice system or who have loved ones currently or formerly in the justice system are strongly encouraged to apply. 

Application Instructions: 

To apply for this role, please submit your application materials through our careers website here.  Make sure to refresh your webpage to view the posting.  Please be sure to include a resume, cover letter, and references in one .pdf or .doc (Word) file.  Applications will be reviewed as received, and all are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, but no later than Monday, May 31, 2021

The Detroit Justice Center (DJC), an innovative community law practice, seeks a full-time Legal Director. DJC is founded on the belief that we cannot build cities that work for everyone without remedying the impacts of mass incarceration and…

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Full Time Schedule
  • Application Deadline
    May 31, 2021
  • Education
    J.D. Required


Work may be performed anywhere in United States
Associated Location
1420 Washington Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48226, United States
Suite 220

How to Apply

Join Idealist

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