Legal Director

The Legal Director is responsible for overseeing the legal department to ensure the provision of high-quality immigration legal services. As a member of the senior management team, the Legal Director will work closely with the Executive Director to increase efficiencies and strengthen the culture of commitment, engagement and service to the most vulnerable immigrants and refugees.

Organizational Background

CARECEN was founded in 1983 by Salvadoran refugees and other human rights activists who worked to secure legal status for the thousands of Central Americans fleeing civil war. Today, CARECEN is the largest Central American immigrant rights organization in the country and also serves immigrants from around the world. Our mission is to empower Central Americans and all immigrants by defending human and civil rights, working for social and economic justice and promoting cultural diversity. The CARECEN Legal Department provides direct legal representation to thousands of clients each year seeking family-based immigration assistance, citizenship, asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, VAWA, T and U visas, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status, and NACARA. CARECEN provides representation in affirmative applications, as well as representation in immigration court and on appeal. We provide legal services through our permanent offices in central Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and the Inland Empire. We also provide offsite services on a weekly basis at over twenty locations throughout Southern California.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities


Strategy, Leadership and Policy:

· Provide organizational leadership and operational vision to CARECEN consistent with the organization’s strategy and evolving community needs.

· Provide strategic input to evaluate potential alliances, expansion of existing services, and new lines of service.

· Provide leadership in development of inter-team communication and cohesiveness, sustaining culture and supporting staff during organizational growth.

· Develop and maintain relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, including CBOs, government officers, elected officials, and funders, among others.

· Represent CARECEN at meetings regarding development and operations to maintain and grow relationships, attract resources and enhance CARECEN’s reputation.

· Help guide organization’s immigration policy advocacy efforts; analyze and propose changes to relevant local, state and federal legislation affecting immigrants and refugees; review and draft proposed legislation affecting immigrants at local, state and federal level; present and defend legislative proposals sponsored by organization in various settings.

· Act as organizational spokesperson on immigration law and policy matters; conduct media interviews in Spanish and English on breaking immigration law and policy developments; develop communications strategy in coordination with senior management team and staff.

· Facilitate organization-wide staff meetings when Executive Director is unavailable.

Legal Department Management:

· Help guide and design legal department program structures.

· Oversee legal program consisting of approximately 70 legal staff, including direct supervision of team of managing attorneys.

· Monitor professional development of legal staff, suggest and assign additional training when appropriate.

· Proactively develop qualifications for leadership around emerging practice areas and topics that relate to the operational excellence of CARECEN, including anticipating future trends.

· Conduct written and in-person performance evaluations of managing attorneys; support managing attorneys in conducting performance evaluations of their team members, including improvement planning and disciplinary action for team members.

· Enhance organizational excellence by establishing benchmarks, timelines, and resources needed to achieve strategic goals, proactively recommending and driving improvements as needed; set standards for accountability and measurements of success.

· Monitor service deliverables on an ongoing basis; prepare, review and submit grant reports to various funders.

· Modify and refine legal policies and procedures to improve quality, efficiency, and client and staff satisfaction.

· Direct citizenship education program and funding.

· Prepare legal department budget in collaboration with finance manager, development, and service outcomes, as well as immigration law and policy developments that affect the organization and community.

· Represent clients in limited matters applicants before DHS, EOIR, and appeals.

· Conduct presentations on immigration law and policy for community members and other stakeholders, including social service providers, funders and elected officials.

· Develop and maintain relationships with CBOs, law schools, foundations, government and other organizations.

· Participate in grant writing, including planning of grant proposals, drafting and reviewing drafts by development staff, conducting primary grant writing duties when necessary.

· Facilitate ongoing meetings with managing attorneys, as well as department-wide meetings.


Education, Experience & Competencies

· Proven experience in a non-profit organization or immigration law firm.

· At least 10 years of immigration law experience required, including success in non-profit management (or equivalent in a for-profit role); and experience working with an Executive Director and Senior Management Team.

· Law degree and active admission to the bar of any state (CA strongly preferred with willingness to test for CA bar).

· Excellent legal skills and broad knowledge of immigration law.

· Demonstrated commitment to mission and goals of CARECEN.

· Excellent written and oral communication skills.

· Commitment to working in a diverse professional environment.

· Ability to develop and implement innovative models of service delivery with limited resources and leverage other community resources.

· Ability to effectively work, communicate and build rapport with diverse groups of individuals, including representatives of government, foundations, English/Spanish media, and other grassroots organizations.

· Fluency in spoken and written Spanish.

· Deep knowledge of non-profit organization best practices in operations, policies and procedures, strategic planning, budgeting and quality improvement.

· Experience developing alignment and efficiency across diverse legal service programs.

· Experience achieving financial, operational, and programmatic results in a dynamic, evolving environment where external forces are uncertain and stakeholders may resist change.


Work Environment and Physical Demands

This job operates in a professional office environment. The position requires the ability to lift files, open filing cabinets and bend or stand as necessary.

Classification & Work Schedule

This is a full-time, exempt position. Office hours of operation are 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday – Friday, with flexibility required based on the needs of the organization. The position will involve some evening and weekend work. Office is located at CARECEN’s central Los Angeles headquarters. Work is also performed in a variety of offsite settings, including workspace at other nonprofit organizations, libraries and other facilities where CARECEN provides services.

Salary & Benefits

Salary – depends on experience

Benefits – A comprehensive benefits package that has medical, dental, vision, life insurance, FSA & Dependent Care FSA, 403(b) Retirement Savings Plan, and AFLAC supplemental insurance.

Application Deadline

Candidates are encouraged to apply immediately.

To Apply Please email a cover letter, resume, and three references to Marlon Fuentes, [email protected] Candidates are urged to be specific regarding level of Spanish fluency in the cover letter.


Only those applicants selected for interviews will be contacted. Applicants must apply directly. CARECEN will not consider applications through legal recruiting/staffing agencies. No inquiries or phone calls from applicants or legal recruiters please.


CARECEN is an Equal Opportunity Employer


All qualified applicants shall receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, ethnic group identification, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, political affiliation, condition of physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation, in accordance with requirements of Federal and State laws.


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