Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Vice President and Legal Director
The Vice President and Legal Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a thought leader, litigator, and manager who will work collaboratively to lead the organization’s legal program, developing its legal strategy and supervising a team of lawyers to execute that strategy to a high standard. They will identify and develop potential cases and legal strategies; oversee the conduct of litigation, the drafting of amicus briefs, and the handling of legal inquiries; supervise and coordinate with outside law firms acting as co-counsel or providing litigation support to AU; litigate cases; and collaborate with the President & CEO to develop novel and creative strategies that secure and build a broader and more diverse movement around true religious freedom and church-state separation.
The successful candidate will be knowledgeable about First Amendment law and committed to upholding core constitutional values that protect the rights of all people, especially those most marginalized. They will demonstrate a commitment to ensuring religious freedom and incorporating a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal department’s internal and external work. They will also be emotionally intelligent and highly collaborative, with a high degree of empathy and exceptional listening skills.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a nonpartisan educational and advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure freedom of religion, including the right to believe or not believe, for all of us. Founded in 1947, Americans United is a diverse and dynamic organization composed of people from all walks of life: lawyers and lobbyists, students and activists, religious leaders and impassioned Americans. AU includes people of faith and people who don’t profess any particular faith. It is a community that includes and welcomes people of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions or beliefs, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, classes and abilities. Because we work on a wide variety of issues with many different communities, we value what diversity and diverse perspectives bring to our work.
Americans United uses high-impact litigation, powerful lobbying, visibility raising and grassroots advocacy to ensure that religion does not dictate public policy; the government does not tell Americans what to believe or how to practice their faith; and discrimination is not justified under the guise of religious beliefs.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
The responsibilities of the Vice President & Legal Director include:
Strategy and Leadership
· In collaboration with the President & CEO, develop and refine the overall strategic direction for AU’s legal program, tying AU’s legal work to the overarching strategic goals of the organization.
· Develop novel and creative strategies to leverage the law and legal systems to advance and build a broad and diverse movement around religious freedom and church-state separation.
· Serve as a member of the organization’s senior team and a strategic partner to the Chief Program Officer and President & CEO.
· Maintain existing external partnerships and identify and build relationships with potential new partners, coalitions, and allies.
· Resolve strategic issues and questions relating to legal program development and implementation.
· Represent organization at external events and conferences and in media interviews as needed.
Program Administration and Team Leadership
· Implement a realistic and concrete plan for the execution of the vision for the legal program.
· Oversee a team of seven lawyers and manage a full docket of cases, with support from outside firms.
· Supervise legal department staff, with assistance from the Associate Vice President and Associate Legal Director.
· Provide management, coaching, and mentorship that inspires excellence and promotes a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture; oversee the performance and professional development of the legal team.
· Work with the legal department staff to screen and develop promising cases and manage a substantial docket of cases, including ones protecting students from government-imposed religion in public schools, preventing religion-based discrimination, opposing governmental support for religion, supporting abortion rights, and connecting church-state separation to other progressive issues.
· Supervise outside law firms acting as co-counsel or providing litigation support to AU.
· Interface with AU’s public policy team on litigation involving federal rules and AU’s policy work on Capitol Hill.
· Collaborate with the communications team to develop and deploy creative, sympathetic messaging on our litigation.
· Partner with the outreach team to mobilize local advocates around AU’s litigation.
· Oversee the preparation of amicus curiae briefs and the selection of cases in which to file amicus briefs
· Oversee non-litigation advocacy efforts such as letter-writing, calls, and representation of individuals in non-courtroom settings to remedy First Amendment violations and educate school officials, legislators, and others about constitutional requirements.
· Litigate cases in federal and state courts, both at the trial level and on appeal.
· Oversee preparation of briefs, motions, and other filings.
· Oversee or conduct discovery, including depositions.
· Conduct trials and hearings; argue trial-court motions and appeals.
· Communicate with clients and opposing counsel.
· Negotiate settlements.
This role can work remotely from anywhere in the U.S. or locally in our Washington, DC office. Occasional in-person attendance at events and meetings in Washington, DC will be required.
Americans United seeks a candidate with:
· J.D. degree with at least 12 years of litigation experience; preference will be given to applicants with demonstrated experience in constitutional or public interest law.
· Ability to think creatively and strategically about the direction of a legal program.
· Skilled and experienced in managing others in litigation, including lawyers, legal fellows, legal interns, and paralegals.
· High emotional intelligence and cultural competency.
· Excellent legal research, writing, and analytical skills.
· Ability to plan and manage under a tight deadline with the ability to multitask and be flexible and effective in fast-paced and high-pressure situations.
· Ability to collaborate across departments and work effectively with senior colleagues in the organization.
· Understanding of the important role litigation plays in raising visibility and building a movement.
· Strong interpersonal skills and ability to promote the legal program.
· Demonstrated commitment to religious freedom and civil rights, public interest work, and a willingness to develop an in-depth understanding of the issues that drive AU’s core mission.
Competitive Salary and Generous Benefits
Salary is $180,000-$205,000 commensurate with experience, with a small upward locality adjustment for higher-cost geographic areas. Americans United offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes employer-paid premiums for health care, dental, vision, life insurance, short-term disability, long-term disability, 401(k) with match, and commuter subsidy.
COVID-19 Vaccination Policy
Americans United has made the safety of our staff and our surrounding community a top priority. As part of that commitment, we have implemented a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy. This policy states that all Americans United employees, fellows, and interns are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and to have received a recent booster shot. If a candidate selected for hire desires a medical or religious exemption, the candidate should make a request to our human resources personnel, and the request will be considered in accordance with applicable law.
How to Apply
Americans United has retained the executive search firm LeaderFit to lead this search. Interested candidates should submit a resume and a thoughtful, relevant cover letter here. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
Individuals from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply. AU is an equal opportunity employer. We consider applicants without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital or veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.