The Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) is a community lawyering organization, boldly serving the movement for equality and justice in and out of the courts, and seeking to advance a vision of a Texas in which all communities can thrive with dignity and justice, and without fear. To advance this work, TCRP is seeking a Legal Program Director to lead its Voting Rights (VR) program, which seeks to break down barriers to equal participation — particularly for Black Texans, Texans of color, younger Texans and people with disabilities who have been historically disenfranchised in our state — and to create a democracy that truly reflects all of the people of Texas. This position is part of TCRP’s Leadership Team, and reports directly to TCRP’s President, Mimi Marziani.
For more than thirty years, TCRP has been a committed partner to community organizers, families and advocacy groups across the state. Whether through litigation or other means of legal advocacy, the attorneys and advocates at TCRP work to dismantle mass incarceration, fight discrimination in voting and civic participation, and right injustices occurring at the Texas border, all under a race equity lens. TCRP’s lawyers work with coalitions of community-based organizations to identify injustices facing Texas communities and develop systemic solutions using litigation and other legal advocacy tools. Learn more about TCRP at www.texascivilrightsproject.org.
The Voting Rights Legal Program Director will lead the development and execution of a vision and strategy that builds on existing highly regarded litigation and legal advocacy campaigns, assessing and shifting as needed following the 2020 election, to craft strategies that ensure all Texans can freely and equally participate in our democracy. The Director’s primary work includes collaboratively setting and driving this vision; leading, supervising and mentoring a talented and highly engaged team focusing on litigation, advocacy, and community engagement; working in coalition with grassroots organizations, local government officials and other partners; and, as a member of the Leadership Team, helping to advance the internal goals of the organization, including those around racial equity and justice.
The ideal candidate will, first and foremost, be an inclusive, passionate, equity-focused leader committed to fighting for voting rights in Texas. They will be an experienced litigator and movement lawyer with the proven ability to develop and lead successful civil litigation and design effective legal advocacy campaigns. They will bring an in-depth knowledge of Texas election law, or at a minimum, federal election law. They will have a deep respect for community-centered lawyering and experience working in coalition with community-based organizations. They will be a proven mentor with the ability to set vision and align strategies in collaboration with others and bring strong communication and interpersonal skills. The new Director must be licensed to practice law in Texas or able to waive into the Texas bar (which is permitted after 5 years of practice).
Location: Alamo (Rio Grande Valley), Austin, Houston, Dallas or San Antonio, Texas (currently remote until September 2021)
Founded by James “Jim” C. Harrington in 1990, TCRP has fought in the courts for the rights of Texans with disabilities, immigrants, workers in need of fair labor conditions, and others. In February 2016, Mimi Marziani, a nationally recognized expert in voting rights, became TCRP’s second President and is leading the organization through its next phase of leadership in high-impact civil rights legal advocacy in Texas. TCRP’s impact in Texas has been powerfully demonstrated across the state in recent years, as highlighted in its 2019 Impact Report.
TCRP’s Voting Rights Program has garnered nationwide and statewide recognition and praise for its deep expertise and experience in voting rights and democracy reform. As a leading Texas nonprofit organization litigating voting rights issues in the state, the VR program has become a go-to source for all matters related to the laws and policies of our Texas democracy. Utilizing a combination of litigation and legal advocacy, the VR program partners with local coalitions, grassroots organizations, and local government offices to challenge laws and actions intended to prevent many Texans from voting and to find creative solutions to expand avenues for participation. In recent years, TCRP’s voting rights work has focused on five overarching initiatives: expanding access to voter registration, easing access to the ballot box, empowering grassroots voting rights allies, fighting voter suppression and demanding a transparent and participatory redistricting process.
Examples of recent campaigns and victories include:
Groundbreaking litigation against the State to require online voter registration: TCRP successfully litigated to enforce the National Voter Registration Act and achieved a landmark victory that now makes it possible for Texans to register to vote while updating licenses online.
Battling voter suppression and breaking down barriers to participation in 2020: TCRP and its partners launched the largest voter protection and voter education campaign Texas has ever seen, including an army of thousands of trained legal volunteers and a coalition of 100 groups to offer direct assistance to voters via a hotline, social media and at targeted polling places. As a result, TCRP helped tens of thousands of Texans cast a ballot that counts and forced enduring systemic change in several large counties.
Defending against voter purges and intimidation: TCRP worked with partner organizations and mobilized Texans to successfully halt the passage of Senate Bill 9, which would have made it harder for people with disabilities and the elderly to vote, threatened voters with jail time and fines for innocent mistakes made while registering to vote, and shifted polling locations away from communities of color and into white neighborhoods.
Opportunities and Challenges Facing the New Legal PROGRAM director
The next Legal Program Director will have the opportunity to set a vision for the next phase of TCRP’s Voting Rights work and lead a team in developing and executing on creative and effective campaigns to tackle some of the most pressing voter rights issues in Texas, with a particular focus on communities of color and historically disenfranchised groups. In particular, the Director can expect to engage in the following opportunities and challenges:
In collaboration with the Voting Rights team, TCRP's leadership team and external partners, develop and execute a vision and strategy that builds on TCRP's highly regarded Voting Rights team efforts. The new Legal Director will leverage a strong understanding of the Texas and national political landscape to craft litigation and legal advocacy strategies that seek to beat down barriers for people of color and other traditionally disenfranchised Texans and to expand avenues for participation. In doing so, they will collaborate closely with movement partners and maintain TCRP’s reputation as the go-to lawyer for civil engagement and power-building groups. Keeping an ear to the ground and an eye on election-related trends and developments nationally and in Texas, the new Director will consistently evaluate opportunities for TCRP to advance its mission.
Lead and manage a highly engaged, deeply skilled team. The Voting Rights team is a group of seven talented, passionate attorneys and paralegals committed to ensuring equal access to civic participation. The new Director will supervise case development and investigations, and actively seek opportunities for staff to develop their litigation, advocacy, and community lawyering skills. They will foster an inclusive, collaborative, consensus-driven environment that encourages creative, outside-the-box thinking and calculated risk-taking. They will seek to build and manage a dynamic, diverse team built on strong equity principles and goals and rooted in a caring team culture. They will ensure strong management, organizational, and communication structures and systems are in place to advance these goals.
Collaborate with other Legal Directors on program strategy. TCRP’s success relies on deeply collaborative relationships within the Voting Rights team and across the organization. In particular, the new Director will explore opportunities to build cases and campaigns that intersect with TCRP’s other legal program areas, enabling cross-team integration as well as boosting ways to serve grassroots partners. The new Director will also actively support the work of colleagues in advocacy, communications, and development as they build campaigns to drive visibility, community support, and funding to increase impact.
Partner across TCRP to drive equity, diversity and inclusion. Grounded in TCRP’s commitment to justice and equality and its organizational values, the new Director will bring an equity lens to all aspects of strategy, priority setting, team development, and community engagement. The new Director will support TCRP’s work to reflect the communities it serves and build a culture of inclusion, continuous growth, openness, and antiracism. The new Director will help create a respectful and equitable work environment for staff at all levels of the organization and will ensure the same experience for clients, partners, and stakeholders.
QUALIFICATIONS AND COMPENSATION
The ideal candidate will be an effective litigator, skilled voting rights strategist, thoughtful manager, and collaborative leader with an unrelenting commitment for equity and justice in Texas. While no one candidate will have all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will be an experienced attorney and have many of the following skills, qualifications, and abilities:
Sincere and demonstrated commitments to equity and inclusion, social justice, and voting rights;
Exceptional litigation skills and at least seven (7) years of federal or state court civil litigation experience, including complex case development;
Deep knowledge of and expertise in state-level (Texas preferred) or federal election law and election reform, and a demonstrated commitment to voting rights efforts;
Strong familiarity with political systems, and experience leading political, legal or advocacy campaign strategies;
Three to five years of demonstrated success inspiring and leading highly talented and diverse teams, preferably of legal and paralegal staff; proven success hiring, training, conducting performance evaluations and mentoring teams;
Initiative, vision, creativity, and a demonstrated willingness to take calculated risks in crafting and executing programmatic strategies;
A deep personal commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion; proven success in engaging with and working in partnership with diverse communities; lived experience that informs an authentic understanding of the challenges faced by vulnerable communities and a sophisticated understanding of the historical nature of structural power differences with a lens into how that impacts social justice efforts today;
Experience analyzing public policy issues, including an ability to synthesize and summarize large amounts of information and to focus quickly on the essence of an issue;
Excellent communication skills, including legal writing, interpersonal and public communication skills, and an ability to translate vision and strategy into external messaging;
Excellent interpersonal skills, including maturity, keen judgment, the ability to facilitate challenging conversations and quickly read interpersonal dynamics, and the ability to work with people from a wide array of backgrounds, perspectives, and personalities, and across projects;
Ability to create a positive atmosphere in a high-energy, fast-paced work environment; excellent and consistent attention to detail and the ability to prioritize and meet deadlines;
Proven ability to foster an optimistic, resilient work environment, especially in the face of adversity;
A personal drive for self-reflection, improvement, and learning;
Patience, a sense of humor, gravitas and a high tolerance for ambiguity; the ability to adapt quickly to change; and a natural orientation towards collaboration;
The ability and willingness to travel regionally;
Spanish or other language abilities are a plus;
Admission to the Texas Bar or ability to waive into the Texas Bar.
The expected salary range is $110,000 - $125,000 per year, commensurate with experience. TCRP also offers excellent benefits, professional development opportunities and a deep commitment to a meaningful work-life balance. Benefits include: employer-paid health, dental, and vision insurance, four weeks paid vacation, eight weeks paid family leave (with opportunities to extend leave to 14 paid weeks in total), medical reimbursement benefit, a robust professional development budget annually, and extensive holidays, including a two-week winter break at the end of December.
About Texas Civil Rights Project
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