Executive Director - West Tennessee Legal Services

West Tennessee Legal Services (WTLS) seeks an Executive Director who possesses a vision and demonstrated passion for serving and advocating for the poor and other vulnerable populations. WTLS is a nonprofit community-based provider of civil legal advocacy, dedicated to helping individuals, families and at-risk communities access their legal rights. WTLS provides legal assistance to the low-income residents of 17 rural counties in the areas of housing, elder law, individual rights, community education, benefits, health, family resources and juvenile law. WTLS receives funding from the Legal Services Corporation and from a variety of local, state, regional and national organizations. 

WTLS has been well-served by its highly regarded Executive Director, who retired after 29 years in this position. The successful applicant will work closely with WTLS’s dedicated Board and Staff to continue the program’s longstanding commitment to WTLS’s mission. WTLS seeks an Executive Director with a vision and commitment to developing innovative solutions for our clients, future funding challenges and the program’s role in the community. 

Key Priorities

  • Ensure high quality legal representation of and advocacy on behalf of low income individuals and families in rural Tennessee.
  • A commitment and outlook for innovative solutions to future challenges.
  • Network at the local, state, regional  and national level to create and strengthen relationships with collaborative partners and funders.
  • Guide and implement an ongoing planning process with WTLS Board and staff which builds on program strengths with a vision for the future.
  • Strengthen WTLS’s fiscal stability by seeking traditional and non-traditional funding sources to increase capacity towards its core mission.
  • Creatively utilize technology to improve service to the  client community and allow staff to work more effectively and efficiently.

Core Competencies

  • A Juris Doctorate and licensed to practice law in Tennessee or a willingness to be licensed in Tennessee within one year of hire
  • Willingness to engage individuals within the client community and agencies that serve them
  • Local, state and national relationship-builder and community-connector
  • Legal aid or public interest work experience, preferred
  • Successful track record in resource development, fundraising and grant writing preferred
  • Prior management experience involving staff supervision, financial oversight and budget development
  • Persuasive and passionate communicator willing to engage a wide range of stakeholders and cultures
  • Leadership, professionalism, integrity, energy, compassion and sense of humor


About West Tennessee Legal Services

WTLS is a community based provider of civil legal advocacy helping individuals, families and at-risk communities access their legal rights.

WTLS was established in 1977 to serve 17 counties in west Tennessee. The service area is primarily rural, and includes part of the Mississippi delta area, and serves a poverty population of over 100,000 people. WTLS has a staff of 31, including 11 attorneys, 15 non-attorney advocates and 5 support staff, with offices located in Jackson, Dyersburg, Huntingdon and Selmer. This Executive Director's position would be located in the Jackson office.

WTLS provides legal representation to its eligible client populations in West Tennessee with both public and private funding; develops and implements the most effective method of delivering legal assistance; sponsors education and research in poverty law areas; educates the private Bar and encourages their involvement; conducts programs to teach the poor and those that work with them to recognize problems that can and should be addressed by legal aid lawyers; and cooperates and partners with other public and private agencies who serve our constituents.

WTLS is a HUD approved Housing Counseling agency, a HUD approved National Housing Counseling Intermediary/Organization, and also a Qualified Fair Housing Organization. 

WTLS has an annual budget of over $ 4.7 million from federal, state and local sources, including both governmental and private funding, totaling over 40 funding sources.  Each funding source conducts regular programmatic and fiscal monitoring and has found WTLS to be compliant.

Candidates are urged to submit their applications before July 31, 2015. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. 

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter expressing in detail why they are interested in the position of Executive Director of West Tennessee Legal Services, as well as what they believe they can contribute to the future of WTLS and its client communities. The letter should be accompanied by a current resume and names and contact information for three professional references. Materials should be submitted electronically to wtlsdirectorsearch@gmail.com as Microsoft Word attachments. WTLS is being assisted in the search by H2 Consultants. Candidates with questions about the position or process are encouraged to contact H2 Consultants at wtlsdirectorsearch@gmail.com or 859-494-4760.

Salary: $112,000, depending on experience. West Tennessee Legal Services offers a generous benefit package, including paid annual, sick and holiday time-off, medical, dental, life and long term disability insurance, legal malpractice coverage, bar association and professional tax fees, and contributions to an ABA retirement program.    

WTLS is an equal opportunity employer. Women, minorities and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply. 

For more information about West Tennessee Legal Services, please visit www.wtls.org.