The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, seeks a new Legal Director to lead its staff of nearly 80 attorneys, paralegals, community advocates, and administrative professionals. The Legal Director, a visionary, strategic thinker with passion, drive, and creativity, will work in a dynamic, progressive team environment to promote social change.
SPLC has been called one of “the most permanent and effective civil rights institutions in the country.” Its leadership, institutional memory, resources and a history of nimble adaptation to the changing forms of discrimination and unfairness are aligned to support the new Legal Director - who will help shape and implement the legal strategy of this organization into the future.
SPLC combats hate and bigotry and fights for the rights of the most vulnerable members of our society. For over 40 years, it has won significant legal victories on behalf of the powerless, including landmark Supreme Court decisions and crushing jury verdicts against hate groups. It has staff in five states in the Deep South — Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida. Although it has a regional focus, it seeks to have a national impact.
The SPLC’s legal team currently focuses primarily on issues of juvenile justice, education, immigrant justice, LGBT rights, and racial violence. But the SPLC prides itself on being an entrepreneurial organization willing to take on new challenges and to represent those who have few champions.
In addition to its legal work, the SPLC is internationally known for tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups and for its Teaching Tolerance project, an innovative program that produces documentary films, curricular materials, and professional development tools that promote understanding in our nation’s schools. More information on SPLC can be found at: www.splcenter.org.
SPLC began as a small law firm led by Morris Dees and Joe Levin, two lawyers from Montgomery determined to make the promise of the new civil rights laws a reality in the Deep South. Early cases led to the integration of the Alabama legislature and the Alabama State Troopers, the police force that beat civil rights marchers in Selma in 1965. Race was the predominant, but not the only focus of the SPLC’s early work. For example, the SPLC litigated Frontiero v. Richardson, a landmark gender discrimination case that reached the Supreme Court in 1973.
In the early 1980s, in response to a surge in white supremacist activity, the SPLC began to file lawsuits against hate groups and their leaders for the violent actions of their members. The most famous such case, filed on behalf of the mother of a Klan lynching victim, bankrupted the notorious United Klans of America, the group responsible for bombing the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963.
Over the last decade, under the leadership of SPLC President Richard Cohen and the SPLC Legal Directors, the scope of the SPLC’s legal advocacy has increased tremendously. The number of SPLC lawyers has grown from six to over 30, the number of offices has grown from one to five, and major new initiatives have been launched. During this same period, the SPLC has grown its non-litigation advocacy tools, developing lobbying, communications, and community mobilization expertise. The impact has been profound. The new Legal Director will be responsible for spearheading the SPLC’s legal advocacy efforts into the future as the SPLC President focuses more of his attention on external relationships.
The SPLC Legal Director leads the legal department in setting goals, developing strategic plans, and executing multifaceted advocacy campaigns (litigation, legislative advocacy, public policy work, media advocacy, and community mobilization). He or she also is responsible for helping SPLC look over the horizon to find new opportunities where the organization can make a difference.
Reporting to the SPLC President, the Legal Director is a member of SPLC’s senior leadership team. He or she will work collaboratively with other SPLC programmatic and operational departments to ensure that the SPLC, as a whole, functions effectively and maximizes its impact.
- Demonstrated passion for civil rights and social justice;
- Ten years of federal court litigation experience;
- Experience leading multi-faceted social justice campaigns;
- Senior-level management experience;
- Excellent communications and analytical skills;
- Demonstrated commitment to recruiting a diverse and talented staff;
- A track record of high performance and achievement;
- JD from an accredited law school; and
- Admission to or the willingness to sit for the Alabama State Bar.
Required Leadership Competencies
- A high-level ability to think strategically and to translate that thinking into operational plans;
- The ability to recognize and maximize new opportunities;
- The ability to manage a budget;
- The ability to foster teamwork;
- The ability to work collaboratively with peers;
- The ability to mentor staff members;
- The ability to make timely decisions and to move forward comfortably in the face of uncertainty;
- The ability to listen, deal effectively with conflict, and maintain a calm, focused perspective; and
- A warm, personal style with a good sense of humor.
The position provides a very competitive salary and excellent benefits, including a generous 401(k) plan.
All inquiries will be kept confidential.
Please submit a resume and cover letter electronically to LD@fordwebb.com
The Southern Poverty Law Center is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, or status with regard to public assistance.