Staff Attorney - Civil Litigation

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Job location
United States
Organization information
Organization name: 
Columbia Legal Services
Street address: 
1301 5th Ave, Suite 1200
Job type: 
Legal - Civil
Position Description: 

Columbia Legal Services (CLS) is a nonprofit civil legal aid organization that advances social, economic, and racial equity for people living in poverty. We support communities and movements by bringing deep legal expertise that is grounded in – and strongly guided by – an understanding of race equity.

We seek systemic solutions by bringing class action lawsuits, using cutting edge legal theories, engaging in policy advocacy, and supporting communities in building their own power. We have a special responsibility to serve people whose access to free legal services is restricted, due to institutionalized or immigration status.

At CLS we seek a team that reflects our organizational values of community, race equity, and justice. This includes hiring staff with connections to the communities we serve whenever possible, and a commitment to strive for justice and equity in our hiring practices and in our staff culture.

Position Summary
Are you looking to use your litigation experience to make real, systemic change? Columbia Legal Services seeks two experienced Civil Litigation Staff Attorney to use their skills in litigation, mentorship, and collaboration as part of our statewide advocacy team – a team that is working to dismantle the structures that perpetuate poverty, racism, and other injustices in Washington with particular emphasis upon challenging the systems of mass incarceration and those that exploit people because of their immigration status.

This position may be based in any CLS office; CLS office locations include Seattle, Olympia, Kennewick, Yakima, and Wenatchee. All CLS staff have the ability to complete some work remotely; however, this position will require some physical presence at the office.

CLS requires that all employees adhere to our COVID-19 vaccine mandate through proof of vaccination or by requesting a medical or religious accommodation. Staff are also required to follow CLS COVID-19 protocols while engaging in in-person work in our offices and in the community.

Examples of recent advocacy include:
Settled a case that will require the Department of Children Youth and Families to prevent unfair transfers of youth from Juvenile Rehabilitation facilities to the Department of Corrections. 
Successfully mediated a case on behalf of farm workers in WA on H-2A guestworker visas who faced discrimination and retaliation by their employer.
Sued the Department of Corrections to protect people who were incarcerated from cruel punishments related to faulty drug tests. 
Continued to push for legislation to create a state unemployment insurance system for undocumented workers, and to provide free communication between people in prison and their loved ones. 
Protecting prevailing piece-rate wages for farmworkers by suing the US Department of Labor for failing to protect these higher wages in the H-2A visa program and by successfully arguing to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that job orders that failed to include these higher wages were unlawful.
Supporting efforts by mushroom workers to organize, co-counseling a case on behalf these workers who are seeking union recognition and facing retaliation as a result.
Secured a court order declaring that when an indigent individual is detained in jail, the county must submit any medical debts incurred as part of the judgment and sentence process before the county can attempt to recover medical costs from the individual.

Lead teams and collaborate with advocates on complex litigation and appeals, including class action litigation, in state, federal, and administrative forums. Litigation team lead responsibilities include but are not limited to:
Supervising and managing teams through all phases of litigation
Leading legal strategy discussions and ensuring that advocacy proceeds forward in a timely and effective way
Assigning work to other team members, setting clear expectations and ensuring that all team members are engaged and productive in support of advocacy
Providing ongoing feedback to team members and keeping them in the loop on all components of the advocacy
Guiding the team in communications and engaging with the press
Assisting with conflict resolution for the team
Guiding the team in race equity analysis and community engagement strategies
Advance policy advocacy in the state legislature and other forums.
Initiate and develop new advocacy.
Investigate practices and laws identified by the communities we serve that adversely affect their rights or benefits and devise creative strategies for addressing these problems.
Collaborate with community groups to support their initiatives and strategies.
Coordinate with other advocacy groups, legal services organizations, and the private bar to identify opportunities to advance the law for our client populations and communities.
Analyze complex problems using a race equity lens and develop creative, practical, systemic solutions in conjunction with clients and communities most impacted by these problems.
Develop legal and litigation skills of more junior staff attorneys, including being a thought partner on research projects and development of cases and investigations. 
Mentor and support advocacy team members.

This job posting is not designed to contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee, and others may be assigned.


Law degree and license to practice in Washington, or ability to take next Washington bar exam. 
Demonstrated ability to develop and litigate complex litigation and/or class action cases independently and collaboratively.
Experience supervising and managing litigation teams, including assigning tasks and communicating clear expectations.
Lived or other demonstrated meaningful and sustained experience with people living in poverty, people of color, immigrant, or indigenous communities or the criminal legal system. 
Humility, humor, and flexibility.
Commitment to exposing and dismantling all forms of structural bias and oppression.
Demonstrated initiative and creativity, interest in learning and exploring different legal areas and ability to apply multi-forum advocacy approaches at a strategic level.
Excellent written and oral communication, research, negotiation, and analytical skills. 
Commitment to continuous learning and openness to new ideas.
Ability to work well on a team, prioritize responsibilities, and meet time-sensitive deadlines.
Understanding of the importance of self-care, and a willingness to take breaks and vacations.
Ability to travel occasionally around the state to engage with community and meet clients.

Preferred, but Not Required:
Experience in civil rights, constitutional, voting rights, administrative, labor (NLRB), or appellate law, particularly experience in applying these laws on behalf of communities harmed and exploited by the systems of mass incarceration or because of their immigration status.
Spanish language skills strongly preferred. Other language skills relevant to our client communities are a plus.
Experience managing and assigning work for complex projects and cases, including utilizing project management best practices.

CLS brings its core values of community, race equity, and justice into all aspects of its work, and we seek an individual for this role who aligns with these values.

To apply: 

To Apply

To apply, please submit an application with a cover letter and resume in PDF format through our application portal in BambooHR.

We accept and review applications on a rolling basis, with priority given to applications received before July 15. We will remove the position from our website once it is filled.

If you need a reasonable accommodation for the application process, please email the Human Resources Department at [email protected].

We are committed to an environment of mutual respect, collaboration, and equal opportunity for all employees, and strongly encourage applications from people of color, immigrants, people who have been affected by mass incarceration, and other underrepresented and historically marginalized groups. We believe in building and sustaining an organization that is reflective of the communities we serve, and is diverse in work background, experience, education, race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, national origin, or sensory, mental and physical abilities. We believe that the resulting diversity is both a source of program strength and a matter of fundamental human fairness.
Salary range: 
The 2024 salary range for a Civil Litigation Attorney with 7-20 years of experience is $95,500 to $115,500.
Submission deadline: 
Friday, August 2, 2024