Staff Attorney—Economic Equity Practice

Detroit, MI

The Detroit Justice Center (DJC), an innovative community law practice opening in spring 2018, seeks a Staff Attorney for our Economic Equity Practice. 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 mission will require new ways of community lawyering—rooted in defensive and offensive fights for racial justice and economic equity—that build up our poorest residents through direct services and innovative approaches to land use, housing, and employment. Our Economic Equity Practice will provide legal support for transformational economic solutions, including community land trusts, housing and worker cooperatives, and enterprises led by returning citizens.

Position Overview

In the face of enormous challenges, Detroiters are creating transformative solutions for sustainable local economies—including urban farms dedicated to cultivating healthy food, time-banking networks, active cultural environments, housing cooperatives, and more. DJC seeks a full-time Economic Equity Staff Attorney to work closely with our community partners to strengthen these community-driven solutions. The ideal applicant will have experience working with community organizations on transactional matters such as community land trusts, real estate law, and affordable housing development.

The Staff Attorney will work under the direct supervision of the Legal Director and in collaboration with their fellow attorneys across practice areas. The Staff Attorney will be expected to function autonomously without further substantive training in transactional law. This is a rewarding and exciting position where the successful applicant will engage in innovative community lawyering work, serving clients as part of DJC’s broader mission to promote just cities.

Job responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Conduct intakes, provide legal advice and support, make strong referrals, and take on cases for representation as appropriate;
  • Advise, counsel, and represent clients (mainly community-based organizations) with legal matters pertaining to land and housing affordability;
  • Maintain relationships with community-based organizations that are working to make Detroit more equitable, affordable, and just;
  • Stay up to date on relevant state and federal laws and think creatively about how to use existing laws and funding mechanisms to promote equitable development;
  • Conduct legal education trainings on key topics for our community partners;
  • Maintain organized client files, case notes, and database systems for caseload as determined with the Legal Director;
  • Identify issues that need a “systems change” solution, and elevate them to DJC leadership;
  • Support PR, development, communications, and storytelling projects as needed;
  • Oversee and supervise legal interns;
  • Conduct administrative tasks as needed.

Qualifications:

The successful candidate for this position will have a deep passion for DJC’s mission; a demonstrated commitment to social, racial, criminal, and economic justice; a desire to democratize access to the law by promoting legal education and legal empowerment in marginalized communities; the ability to sustain and develop a broad set of relationships with people from diverse backgrounds; energy and enthusiasm.

  • J.D. degree required;
  • Licensed attorney, active and in good standing, in Michigan;
  • At least 3-5 years of experience representing clients in transactional/economic development matters;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • Proactive communicator with strong problem-solving skills. Ability to develop creative solutions, speak up regularly with new ideas, thoughts, concerns, and incorporate feedback and direction;
  • Demonstrated ability and willingness to zealously pursue creative and collaborative legal services and strategies;
  • Excellent time management. Ability to produce high quality work on tight deadlines;
  • Demonstrated ability to take initiative;
  • Enthusiasm for working at a progressive new organization;
  • Passion for social justice, economic justice, and community-oriented work required;
  • Excellent professional judgment;
  • Ability to hit the ground working, multi-task, and work independently.

DJC offers salary commensurate with experience plus benefits. 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. 

To Apply: Please send a cover letter, resume, legal writing sample, and at least two references in one Word or PDF file by February 22, 2018 to jobs@detroitjustice.org with the subject: “DJC Staff Attorney—Economic Equity Practice.” Please mention in your cover letter where you saw this advertisement. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please refrain from contacting the office to check on the status of your application.