Attorney, Defending Defenders Program

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Last update: 9 days ago Last update: Mar 17, 2023


Deadline: Mar 31, 2023
Location: USA USA
Sectors: Environment & NRM, Law Environment & NRM, Law
Job type: Contract, 12 months +
English English
Work experience: From 3 years
Salary: 65000 - 90000 USD / year
Date posted: Mar 17, 2023


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ELAW is accepting applications for an experienced attorney to join its Defending Defenders Program.

This is an exciting opportunity to work with public interest lawyers around the world to protect the rights of communities and the environment. ELAW collaborates with lawyers representing local communities and NGOs to build a sustainable, just future. ELAW's global partners are bringing innovative legal actions challenging the status quo and addressing complex environmental problems.

About the position

ELAW’s Defending Defenders Program supports environmental defenders around the world to work without fear of reprisal. Environmental defenders play an important role in securing a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Because their work challenges powerful economic and political interests, they often face risks or threats. For individuals, these threats include criminalization, stigmatization, surveillance, harassment, threats, and/or acts of physical violence – including torture and murder – and bogus criminal charges and civil actions (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation - SLAPP suits). Defenders also face attacks against their organizations, such as burdensome registration and reporting requirements, restrictions on funding, and other regressive laws and regulations. These intersecting forms of exclusion, violence, and discrimination impact defenders’ work, wellbeing, and enjoyment of a wide array of fundamental rights, such as their rights to opinion, expression, participation, liberty, physical and mental health, personal integrity, family, privacy, and safety, among many more.

This position will focus on accompanying our public interest lawyer colleagues who request support. Accompaniment may include funding for legal representation, strategic referrals to protection specialists, and support for emotional and physical well-being and resiliency. The attorney will respond to specific needs and requests and connect the defender to resources and allies. The attorney may also support the defender by engaging with domestic, regional, and international courts and other legal mechanisms to seek accountability for past violations, findings of fact and decisions from specialized human rights bodies, high-level statements from UN experts and/or regional human rights bodies, and redress from international and regional bodies. The attorney may also support advocacy around strengthening and expanding the legal protections and frameworks providing protection and recognition for Indigenous, land, and environmental defenders as a means of risk prevention.

Responsibilities and Scope of Position:

Conduct legal research and analysis to support lawyers defending communities and the environment globally;
Draft legal communications and letters to international fora, including human rights mechanisms, embassies, and other audiences as needed;
Develop and implement legal advocacy strategies, informed by the local context;
Understanding of risk assessments and implementation of these considerations into legal strategy;
Work closely with defenders to develop strategic actions to address risks and/or threats, informed by the local context;
Adhere to confidentiality and digital protection protocols;
Build and foster relationships with international partners and allies;
Organize and participate in workshops and other remote/in-person meetings to share information and develop advocacy strategies;
Review work by Defending Defender Program colleagues; and
Collaborate with ELAW colleagues on communications, development, and other activities that support the organization, our partners, and allies.

Minimum Qualifications:

A commitment to fulfilling ELAW’s mission;
The ability to work successfully in cross-cultural settings;
J.D. or equivalent law degree;
Licensed to practice law, or willing to apply for bar membership;
At least three years of legal advocacy experience in relevant fields of law, including, inter alia, international human rights law and criminal law;
Exceptional legal research, writing, and communication skills;
Excellent organizational skills with the ability to manage multiple tasks and competing deadlines;
Ability to positively represent ELAW in a variety of professional settings;
Ability to work within a small team, as well as independently;
Professional fluency in English;
Flexible approach to working with colleagues across time zones; and
Commitment to confidentiality and security practices.

Desired Qualifications and Competencies:

Experience working internationally;
Awareness and understanding of the threats facing land, environmental and Indigenous defenders;
Professional fluency in language(s) other than English
Ability to work well with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and orientations;
Ability and willingness to use technology platforms that enable virtual collaboration;
Open to international travel; and
Experience leading and facilitating skill shares and workshops.

The ELAW Secretariat is based in Eugene, Oregon, though members of our team work across several continents. This position is flexible, though needs to be easily able to collaborate with colleagues in the Pacific Time Zone


$65,000 - $90,000