Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc. Seeks Legislative & Compliance Director

POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT 

Position:         Legislative & Compliance Director MADISON or MILWAUKEE OFFICE of Legal Action of Wisconsin 

Basic Function:

Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc. (Legal Action) is seeking a full-time Legislative & Compliance Director (L&C Director). This management position sets and implements the strategic vision and plan for the firm’s legislative and government affairs, external relations, and media activities, in alignment with Legal Action’s mission and core values. This position also ensures that firm remains in compliance with legislative and government affairs requirements. 

The L&C Director is a member of Legal Action’s senior management and five substantive law priority committees, providing relevant public policy and legal analysis and strategic outreach, guidance and recommendations for action. 

The position’s primary work location may be in Legal Action’s Madison Office, 744 Williamson Street, Suite 200, Madison, WI, or in Legal Action’s Milwaukee Office, located at 230 W. Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI. 

 

LEGAL ACTION OF WISCONSIN, INC.

Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc. is a non-profit law firm, funded by the federal Legal Services Corporation, the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Office on Crime Victim Services, and many other sources. We provide civil legal aid to low-income people in the southern 39 counties of Wisconsin. To serve our eligible client population, we maintain full-time offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Oshkosh, Green Bay, and La Crosse.  In addition, Legal Action operates a farmworkers project which is statewide. Legal Action will have a budget of about $12 million in 2019, with a staff of 122 employees including 79 attorneys, 24 paralegals, 19 support, administrative, and I.T. staff.

Legal Action attorneys have expertise in a range of substantive legal areas. The majority of our direct representation is in the areas of law that most affect low-income people:  housing, public benefits, consumer, employment, and family law.  All attorneys maintain a direct service caseload on behalf of individual and group clients and they engage in strategic advocacy.  Attorneys are expected to specialize in specific areas of poverty law. 

Please see Legal Action’s website for descriptions of:

  

Principal Duties and Responsibilities:

Build Legal Action’s institutional power to strengthen and protect equal justice for low-income people. 

The Legislative & Compliance Director is responsible for several key functions:

1)    In conjunction with Legal Action staff attorneys, monitoring, analyzing, and lobbying on state and local legislative and administrative efforts that affect our clients and our practice of law.

  • Monitoring, assessing, and analyzing proposed and pending legislation and administrative rules which will affect our clients and our practice of law. 
  • Lobbying on behalf of Legal Action’s clients on a range of legislative and administrative issues including: public benefit programs’ funding, eligibility, and access; housing, foreclosure, and landlord/tenant regulations and laws; consumer protection; employment and licensing, including driver’s licenses and arrest and conviction record expungement; protections for survivors of violence, assault, and human trafficking; and issues impacting farmworkers, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and other vulnerable populations.
  • Keeping all Legal Action staff apprised of these legislative and rulemaking efforts via regular presentations and written reports to Legal Action’s Priority Committees, Managers’ Meetings, and other fora, through written reports distributed to staff and, where appropriate, through e-mails or telephone calls with relevant staff members.

2)    Ensuring that Legal Action’s engagement with lobbying and administrative rule activities is done in compliance with the requirements imposed by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation (WISTAF), and other funding sources and regulatory agencies.

  • Formulating and disseminating legislative, rulemaking and training compliance policies and standards; refining appropriate procedures and reporting systems; and setting regular compliance checks.
  • Developing and implementing firmwide, regular training to ensure compliance with these requirements by all staff. 
  • Gathering data and timely filing of all relevant reports for Legal Action’s permissible legislative and administrative advocacy activities including the semiannual reports for the Legal Services Corporation.
  • Manage and supervise all Legal Action staff members in their lobbying and rulemaking advocacy and training activities. The Director has the authority to require Legal Action staff members to take any action necessary to ensure regulatory compliance. 

3)    Broadening understanding of and support for civil legal aid among policymakers, key stakeholders, and the public. 

  • Leading and coordinating Legal Action’s efforts to educate policymakers at the local, state, and federal level about the importance of civil legal aid.
  • Actively participate in a leadership role in statewide access to justice issues.
  • Lead Legal Action’s efforts to secure and expand funding for civil legal aid in the biennial state budget and to secure funding from municipalities.

4)    Ensuring consistent and clear public messaging with members of the media about Legal Action’s work, the value of civil legal aid, and the impacts of legislative and rulemaking proposals.

  • Respond to media inquiries, commenting on legislative and rulemaking proposals, doing so in compliance with the LSC regulations.
  • Help other Legal Action staff communicate effectively with members of the media about substantive law issues, our practice and programs, and their clients’ experiences.
  • Assist Project Directors and other managers with developing media and messaging about our work that is clear, consistent, and appropriately branded.
  • Assist with Legal Action’s social media efforts.

5)    Actively participating in Legal Action management group. All work of the Legislative & Compliance Director is subject to the oversight and management of the Executive Director of Legal Action. 

OTHER DUTIES

The Legislative & Compliance Director may also have other firmwide responsibilities that might be assigned from time to time based on interest, availability and need, particularly in the areas of fund development, external relations, professional development, and staff training. 

Competencies Required:

The L&C Director must believe strongly in the value of high-quality legal aid and equal justice for low-income people and have exceptional skills in advocating for legal aid and equal justice. They must have a personal commitment to achieve the firm’s legislative and public affairs objectives in service of our equal justice mission. Specifically, the L&C Director must have: 

  • a strong skill set in strategic planning, organizational development, and communications;
  • motivated and able to work independently with enthusiasm for Legal Action’s mission while exercising excellent judgment and discretion;
  • diplomatic skills and the ability to work effectively and professionally with Legal Action employees, outside consultants, entities and individuals within all branches of government at all levels, and external relationships;
  • high comfort level in serving as a spokesperson with the media, external audiences, and internal colleagues while providing appropriate policy, legal, and firm perspectives;
  • ability to work both autonomously and in concert with others;
  • a demonstrated commitment to strategic advocacy;
  • experience in cultivating and maintaining relationships with policymakers, community partners, members of the media, and other stakeholders;
  • ability to clearly and succinctly analyze and explain complex legislative and administrative proposals;
  • demonstrated ability to ensure compliance, write and disseminate clear and understandable compliance guidance, and train others in compliance matters; and
  • the ability to be a registered lobbyist with the State of Wisconsin Ethics Commission and be capable of complying with all Ethics Commission requirements and responsibilities.

Admission to the Wisconsin Bar is preferred, but equivalent legal, analytical and/or public policy experience will be considered. Prior legal aid experience, experience working with community and access to justice partners, producing training materials or events, or other relevant experience is helpful.

Legal Action has an affirmative action plan for the hiring of members of minority groups and women.  While academic training and performance, as well as the nature and extent of prior legal and legislative advocacy experience are important considerations, review of the applications will also consider the applicant's knowledge and understanding of the legal problems and needs of low-income persons, commitment to providing legal services to such persons, prior legal work in the client community or in other programs to aid the poor and end poverty, and cultural affinity with the client community.

                                               

TRAVEL

The Legislative & Compliance Director will be required to travel to complete these responsibilities. The amount of travel will vary, but it may involve travel up to 2 or 3 days/week without overnight stays on occasion.  Most travel will occur within the 39 counties that Legal Action serves, but it may also include other (northern) Wisconsin counties. Overnight and out-of-state travel will also be required occasionally. 

 

Salary and Benefits

Starting salary for this position depends upon experience and qualifications but will have a minimum annual starting salary of $48,727.  A credit of $1,324 will be given for each 12 months of prior relevant work experience. For example, a person with 5 years (60 months) of documented, relevant work experience may be offered a minimum starting salary of $55,347 for this position. In addition, at the discretion of the Board of Directors, staff members may receive an annual salary increase. In 2018 and prior years, the Board of Directors approved a $2,000 salary increase for this position.  

Legal Action also provides a generous fringe benefit package, including employer-paid health and dental insurance premiums. (Some employees are required to make a nominal annual contribution for insurance premiums if they have other insurance plans available.)  Legal Action also provides life and long-term disability insurance, a retirement plan, four weeks of vacation leave per year.

 

OTHER

The position is subject to a probationary period of up to twelve months. The position is governed by the Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc. Personnel Policies which are subject to unilateral change by the Legal Action Board of Directors.  As with any Legal Action position, there is no guaranteed period of employment and employment is “at will”, subject to termination at any time. 

Application Procedure

Persons interested in applying for this position should submit a cover letter, résumé summarizing their experience and qualifications, names and contact information for three references, law school transcript (if applicable), and a relevant writing sample to: legisdirector@legalaction.org.  All attachments should be in PDF format.  

Deadline to Apply:  The position will be open until filled. To assure consideration, please submit application materials as soon as possible. Review of the applications will begin as early as February 25, 2019.                                              

Diversity Statement:  Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer