Litigation Attorney (Housing focus)
Full-Time, Hybrid, San Francisco

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 country and especially in the SF Bay Area. A safe and healthy home is a universal human need, yet it is consistently unrealized or threatened for those in poverty or those overlooked by our country’s racist systems.

We are hiring a housing attorney to strengthen Open Door Legal’s capacity to represent and assist low-income persons, especially BIPOC populations, and individuals in jeopardy of losing their housing. The attorney in this position will assist predominantly marginalized communities, including those previously specified, as well as those living with mental illness and/or disabilities.

Instead of focusing on defending clients in Unlawful Detainer proceedings, in this position, you will be pursuing affirmative civil cases against negligent or malicious landlords, defending subsidies through advocacy and at hearings, sealing records regarding prior Unlawful Detainer judgments, and advocating for other tenant’s rights in local and federal forums. Through our work, we deter bad actors who prioritize wealth from continuing to disenfranchise low-income San Franciscans.

The work will require you to think critically and demonstrate humility and awareness in understanding the needs of our community, but no housing law experience is required. Success in this role requires grit, dynamism, teamwork, care, and passion (also our team’s five values). The housing team is currently made up of five attorneys and one paralegal. You will report directly to the Managing Housing Attorney.

Responsibilities:

  • Embrace and embody our mission of universal access to civil legal aid and ensure that everyone in our service area with a viable housing problem gets appropriate help, including legal representation.
  • Own 30+ open housing law cases simultaneously, with 10-15 of these cases being active litigation in civil court while being assisted by a paralegal and volunteers.
  • Litigate affirmative housing cases in San Francisco Superior Court both solo and with pro bono attorneys as co-counsel (ones that we can’t get placed with private counsel).
  • Defend tenants who’ve been sued by landlords in civil court (not eviction defense).
  • Represent clients at rent board hearings, San Francisco Housing Authority administrative hearings, grievance hearings with subsidized housing providers, mediations with the Conflict Intervention Service, and Department of Fair Employment and Housing meditations to improve clients’ living conditions.
  • Advise on proper small claims defense and affirmative small claims case initiations, and appear to represent clients at small claims appeal hearings (namely due to rent collection attempts).
  • Engage in community work and outreach as required to effectively identify suits that are necessary to file.
  • Perform housing law intakes in-person and across multiple physical Open Door Legal locations.
  • Train, mentor, and supervise pro bono attorneys, law students, volunteers, and fellows working on housing cases.
  • Provide 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, passionate, and dynamic.

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.
  • Must genuinely enjoy working with low-income clients and have a commitment to providing culturally humble and trauma-informed services.
  • Must come into a physical office at least 3 days/week, 4 days preferred.
  • Must have some experience in a fast-paced office environment.
  • Must have high comfort using technology and case management systems.
  • Must have strong attention to detail.
  • Must be willing to make a two-year commitment to the organization.

Bonus Points:

  • Bilingual in Spanish (eligible for a slight pay increase).
  • Bilingual in Cantonese (eligible for a slight pay increase).
  • California superior court civil procedure knowledge and/or have litigated in a CA civil court for at least 1 year.
  • Aware of basic landlord/tenant rules and housing law in San Francisco.
  • Civil jury trial experience.
  • Experience representing clients living in subsidized housing hearings (PHA, HUD, Housing Choice Vouchers).
  • Experience working in a high-volume legal aid organization, public defender’s office or similar environment.
  • Knowledge of other local non-profit organizations and tools for assisting low-income, underserved communities.
  • Having lived a significant period of your life in San Francisco proper.

Annual salary range for this position is $77,500 - $93,500 depending on experience.

Benefits:

  • 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
  • Generous paid time off
  • Flexible work hours
  • Generous paid parental leave
  • We want our team to feel the freedom to do what’s best for their mental health and now offer a quarterly mental health stipend for all employees.
  • 401K/Retirement Account
  • We believe everyone is always learning. We financially invest in 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 for anyone who’s passionate about making a meaningful and measurable difference.

Applications received before October 14, 2022, will receive priority consideration.

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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