About Us:

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” - Nelson Mandela

We believe that even the biggest problems can be broken down into small, achievable steps. Poverty and access to justice are part of the same problem. And to solve this, we just need to discover what the steps are.

At Open Door Legal (ODL), we’re pioneering the country’s first system of universal access to civil legal representation to dramatically reduce poverty and prove that the law really can belong to all of us.

To achieve this ambitious goal, we’ve created an award-winning and best-in-class legal aid organization full of passionate, motivated, gritty, thoughtful, and team-oriented people.

We believe that injustice is the heart of poverty and we're looking for someone to join us in having a systemic impact on how we, as a society, ensure justice for all.

Overview of Position

Housing has the attention of everyone in the Bay Area. A safe and healthy home is a universal human right, yet it is consistently unrealized or threatened for those in poverty. San Francisco tenants have the rare right to receive free legal counsel. As a staff attorney at Open Door Legal, you will play a key role in maintaining and implementing that right. You will work with the entire housing team and collaboratively with your clients to help ensure and keep safe and healthy homes for local, low-income, San Francisco residents.

Since San Francisco voters passed Prop F in 2018, Tenant Right to Counsel (TRC), which guaranteed any tenant right to counsel in an eviction matter, we have seen how having an attorney in an eviction case increases a family’s chance of avoiding homelessness by over 70%. Open Door Legal is helping to build universal access to civil legal services in San Francisco and proving how it is the most cost effective way to address poverty and keep folks in their homes.

You should apply if you are a zealous advocate who will passionately and enthusiastically work to ensure the best possible outcomes for your clients. The work is fast-paced and you will need to work efficiently to both honor the resiliency of each of our clients and effectively represent them in court. Others describe you as versatile, gritty, and curious. Cultural humility is not just conceptual to you, you embody it and commit to growth. Your trauma-informed lawyering demonstrates how you see clients as whole people who are partners in achieving successful legal outcomes. This position would be great for a new attorney who is ready to learn quickly, and willing to represent clients over a very wide variety of subject areas. Thriving in this role requires grit, dynamism, teamwork, care, and passion (our organization’s five values).

This position will report directly to the Managing Housing Attorney.

Responsibilities

  • Work collaboratively with our housing team to cover all unlawful detainer representation of tenants required by Prop F for clients eligible for Open Door Legal’s services.
  • Defend and advocate for tenants who are facing evictions in at least 50 cases per year.
  • Enforce tenant rights under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, California law, and Federal law.
  • Own a minimum of 15 open cases at any given time and manage case files.
  • Appear in San Francisco Superior Court approximately 2-3 times a week to represent tenants on a variety of matters, including settlement conferences, hearings, trials, and more.
  • Research, draft, and file pleadings, motions, discovery, settlement agreements, trial briefs, and other writings for litigation on an expedited unlawful detainer time frame (some responses due in five calendar days).
  • Conduct depositions, and coordinate and participate in investigation for litigation.
  • Negotiate on behalf of tenants against landlords’ attorneys, pro per landlords, and other adverse parties.
  • Perform housing intakes across multiple physical Open Door Legal office locations and in remote or virtual meetings.
  • Participate in all team meetings and conversations on Slack, and attend external meetings with various tenant organizations and partner agencies.
  • As part of a team, jump in and take intakes and cases in areas of law that may be unfamiliar to you. Work quickly on challenging, intellectually interesting, and interpersonally difficult cases.
  • Provide trauma-informed services and support to our low-income clients with sensitivity and awareness to cultural, socio-economic, and disability differences. Keep a high rating in the client feedback survey.
  • Embrace and embody our values of teamwork, grit, caring, passion, and dynamism.

Requirements:

  • Membership in good standing with the California State Bar. Applicants without active California bar membership will not be considered. However, those without a license are encouraged to apply to volunteer with us at opendoorlegal.org/volunteer.
  • Strong time management skills, attention to detail, and the ability to organize time, manage diverse activities, and meet critical deadlines with minimal supervision.
  • Must be able to go in-person to the SF Superior Courthouse 2-3 times a week.
  • Must genuinely enjoy and be motivated by working with low-income clients and be able to work competently with clients impacted by trauma (emotional, mental, and physical).
  • Must actively demonstrate cultural humility and sensitivity to barriers low-income residents face when attempting to access the justice system.
  • Have a high level of comfort learning and using technology and cloud-based case management systems. We use Salesforce, Dropbox, and Google Suite.
  • Embrace and embody our values of teamwork, grit, caring, passion, and dynamism.

Bonus Points:

  • Litigation experience in California Superior Courts and civil procedure knowledge.
  • Knowledge of basic landlord-tenant laws on the local, state, and/or federal level(s).
  • Comfortable practicing, translating and interpreting in Spanish and/or Cantonese (this comes with a slight compensation increase).
  • Experience working with low-income and vulnerable populations.
  • Experience working in a high-volume legal aid, doing community organizing or outreach.
  • Having lived a significant period of your life in San Francisco proper.

Starting compensation is $75,000 - $89,000 annually based on experience.

Perks:

  • 4 weeks of paid time off per year
  • Loan Repayment Assistance - for staff pursuing 10-year public interest debt forgiveness, we will pay the minimum payment on all qualifying loans so that you don’t need to worry about student loan debt (this is a conditional benefit).
  • Medical/Dental/Vision Plan offerings at 100% coverage
  • Flexible work hours and weekly work-from-home days
  • Paid mental health benefit
  • Generous paid parental leave
  • 401K/Retirement Account
  • We believe everyone is always learning. We write individual learning plans for each staff member and provide many internal and external mentorships, coaching, and learning opportunities (conferences, workshops, etc.).
  • We are a fun and hard-working office with best-in-class technology solutions (including Salesforce) for anyone who's passionate about making a meaningful and measurable difference.

Applications Received by January 18, 2022 will receive priority consideration.

Ideal starting date: February 1, 2022.

Open Door Legal is proud to be an Equal Opportunity employer. We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender status, sexual stereotypes, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or any other applicable legally protected characteristics. We also consider qualified applicants with criminal records, consistent with applicable federal, state, and local law.

We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities in our recruiting process. If you need any assistance or accommodations due to a disability, please let us know at whitney [at] opendoorlegal [dot] org.

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