Unemployment Insurance Project Attorney
Legal Aid at Work (LAAW) enforces and expands the employment and civil rights of low-wage workers, their families, and communities by engaging in outreach and education, providing clients with legal advice and representation, and advocating for policy reforms.
LAAW has seven core program areas: (1) Racial Economic Justice; (2) Community Legal Services; (3) Disability Rights; (4) Gender Equity & LGBTQ Rights; (5) National Origin and Immigrants’ Rights; (6) Wage Protection; and (7) Work & Family. Through these programs, LAAW:
•Provides free, individualized legal advice and counsel throughout California to thousands of low-income workers;
•Pursues targeted enforcement and impact litigation to strengthen and clarify the law;
•Conducts community outreach and education for workers, their advocates, their families, and theirhealth and social service providers; and
•Advocates for laws, regulations, and policies at the local, state, and national levels to strengthen civiland workplace rights.
As a social justice organization, Legal Aid at Work’s mission is rooted in the firm belief that all people deserve respect, dignity, and self-determination at work, at school, and in their communities. Structural and systemic racism—with the oppression of Black and Indigenous people at its core—and other forms of injustice shape the society and the civic, political and legal systems in which we work and live. Legal Aid at Work is committed to developing and nurturing an organizational culture that will dismantle systems of oppression, uplift people from underrepresented communities, and create a workplace that is truly equitable and inclusive. As such, we strongly encourage candidates from underrepresented communities to apply.
The Wage Protection Program aims to help build a just economy where all workers are empowered to receive fair wages and dignified workplaces through legal representation and advocacy. The Wage Protection Program engages in a range of advocacy on behalf of low-wage workers. Among other things, the program:
•Litigates wage and hour, retaliation, and labor trafficking cases in state and federal court;
•Represents clients in proceedings before the California Unemployment Insurance AppealsBoard and Labor Commissioner’s Office;
•Provides training and assistance to worker centers and community partners throughoutCalifornia;
•Supervises law students and volunteer attorneys at clinics to assist individuals in filing wageclaims;
•Engages in state and local policy advocacy to improve protections for low wage workers andunemployment insurance claimants; and
•Assists claimants who are attempting to access Unemployment Insurance benefits or chargedwith an overpayment.
The Wage Protection Program is currently staffed by three attorneys and a paralegal who work full-time with the program, along with two post-graduate legal fellows.
Unemployment Insurance helps millions of Californians keep food on their tables and pay the rent when they experience disruptions to their primary source of income—their jobs. This is an exciting and rapidly changing area of the law, the importance of which has been made abundantly clear by the COVID-19 Pandemic when millions of Californians urgently needed to access these benefits.
The Unemployment Insurance Project Attorney will focus on representing low-income clients needing assistance with claims related to Unemployment Insurance before state administrative agencies.
In addition to handling their own portfolio of Unemployment Insurance claims and cases, the Attorney will also supervise and mentor law students handling similar claims.
The attorney will also push for broader systemic reforms to the Unemployment Insurance system as a whole by seeking to improve how the Employment Development Department (EDD) and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB) interact with low-wage workers.
The Attorney is responsible for:
- Representing clients in administrative hearings
- Supervising law students that are representing clients in administrative hearings;
- Engaging in administrative advocacy (often in coalition with other organizations) related to the operations of EDD and the CUIAB; and
- Conducting community outreach and education in conjunction with community partners.
- Working closely with grant partners to develop and maintain a referral pipeline for Unemployment Insurance cases, and related income-maintenance benefits like Paid Family Leave and State Disability Insurance.
- Acting as the point-person (and resident expert) at Legal Aid at Work on emerging issues in Unemployment Insurance.
- Investigating, developing, initiating and litigating enforcement and impact cases, when possible;
This position is a term-limited position funded by a three-year grant.
The ideal attorney will have the following experience, but competitive applicants need not possess all of the experience and attributes described below:
- Have 2+ years of legal experience, preferably in employment law, public benefits law, oradministrative law;
- Be fluent in Spanish, Mandarin, or other languages commonly spoken by low-wage workers inCalifornia;
- Be able to work collaboratively on a small team of attorneys and paralegals;
- Have experience managing multiple projects simultaneously, and prioritizing competingdeadlines;
- Be willing to develop projects on their own initiative;
- Be able to think strategically about the role of a legal nonprofit in supporting the broader labormovement and grassroots organizing efforts;
- Possess a commitment to racial equity work and incorporating racial equity principles into legaladvocacy;
- Possess a commitment to Legal Aid at Work’s mission of seeking justice for low-wage workers;and
- Be able to travel as necessary within California and to other parts of the country for litigation,speaking events, meetings, and conferences.
Candidates must be active members of the California State Bar, or willing to take the next California Bar Examination if currently a member of another state bar.
Legal Aid at Work offers salaries that are competitive in the Bay Area public interest law community. Benefits include health plans, long-term disability and life insurance, 403(b) retirement plan, and generous paid vacation and holidays. As a unionized organization, LAAW believes in the importance of employees organizing to improve their working conditions. This position is included in the bargaining unit represented by ESC Local 20. The current negotiated salary scale for the position can be found here.
We strongly encourage candidates from underrepresented communities to apply. Applications must include (1) a cover letter explaining your interest in this position and the ways in which you satisfy the qualifications specified above, (2) résumé, and (3) two legal writing samples. All application materials should be submitted to:
Unemployment Insurance Project Attorney Search Committee
Email: [email protected]